Councillors and committees

Agenda item

Home to School Travel Policy for Children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities

To consider two travel options within the existing Home to School Travel Policy for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) ie collection points on selected school routes; and targeted independent travel training. To agree a minor amendment to the existing policy in relation to an enhanced Parent Pay offer to those parents and carers who organise their child’s own transport to and from school.

Decision:

Resolved that –

 

1.            subject to consideration by the Director of Children’s Services (in consultation with the Portfolio Holder) of the responses from the targeted consultations referred to in paragraph 12 of the report, collection points are implemented on selected routes to improve efficiency and, wherever possible, reduce journey times for pupils;

2.            targeted independent travel training is implemented for young people with SEND to promote independence, life skills and their future employability;

3.            an enhanced parent pay offer is implemented which supports families to arrange transport between home and school for their own child, by increasing the payment rate from 47 pence per mile to £1 per mile where appropriate and agreed; and

4.            it be noted that agreement to the recommendations above would create a stand-alone SEN Transport policy for the RB of Kingston upon Thames, replacing the existing AfC SEN Transport policy which covers the LB of Richmond also.

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report proposes the implementation of two travel options within the existing Home to School Travel Policy for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).  These are: collection points on selected school routes; and targeted independent travel training. The report also proposed a minor amendment to the existing policy in relation to an enhanced Parent Pay offer to those parents and carers who organise their child’s own transport to and from school.

The Council has a statutory duty under the Education Act 1996 to provide free home to school transport, where necessary, for pupils with SEND who are of compulsory school age (aged 5 to 16), where their nearest suitable school is beyond two miles (if they are under the age of eight) or beyond three miles (if they are between the aged of eight and 16). 410 children and young people are currently in receipt of SEND transport in Kingston under the eligibility criteria in the current SEND transport policy.

The Council set out its approach and eligibility criteria for the provision of home to school transport in its Home to School Travel Policy for pupils with SEND, which was approved at the Children’s and Adults’ Committee on 16 March 2016.  The policy is attached to this report as Annex 1 of the report.  The policy included the options to implement collection points on selected school routes, independent travel training, and an allowance for those parents wishing to transport their own child to and from school.

There has been significant financial pressure on the budget for home to school transport since 2014/15. There are three main reasons for this: the implementation of the Children and Families Act 2014 which extended the eligible age range of children and young people with SEND for educational support from 19 to 25; the increasing complexity of children’s and young people’s needs and the requirement for individualised support and/or solo travel options; and an increase in the number of pupils educated at a distance from the borough based on their assessed needs.  In 2017/18 there was a £369,000 overspend on home to school travel; in 2018/19 this is projected to be £357,000.

The Children and Families Act 2014 places a specific responsibility on Councils to promote the independence of children and young people with SEND.  This includes promoting greater independence in travel to and from school. In order to better manage the financial pressures on the home to school travel budget, and to better promote the independence and life skills of young people with SEND, it is proposed to implement two options within the existing Home to School Travel Policy. These are: (i) the implementation of collection points on approximately 13 school transport routes for ambulant pupils subject to an assessment of their needs and consultation with their parents or carers; and (ii) the introduction of targeted independent travel training for pupils in Year 8 onwards where an assessment indicates that they would be able to complete the programme in order to travel independently to and from school.

The promotion of independent travel training is included within the Home to School Travel Policy (see paragraphs 65 to 67). The Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice requires all local authorities to promote the independence and life skills of young people, in particular in their transition to adulthood. The use of independent travel training is an important mechanism for supporting young people to become more independent, acquire key life skills, develop their interests and friendship networks, and increase opportunities for employment.

The reimbursement of mileage costs for parents transporting their child to and from school is included within the Home to School Travel Policy.  The reimbursement rate is currently 47 pence per mile. There is low take-up of this option.  It is proposed to increase the reimbursement rate to £1 per mile to increase take-up of the scheme.

Resolved that –

1.            subject to consideration by the Director of Children’s Services (in consultation with the Portfolio Holder) of the responses from the targeted consultations referred to in paragraph 12 of the report, collection points are implemented on selected routes to improve efficiency and, wherever possible, reduce journey times for pupils;

2.            targeted independent travel training is implemented for young people with SEND to promote independence, life skills and their future employability;

3.            an enhanced parent pay offer is implemented which supports families to arrange transport between home and school for their own child, by increasing the payment rate from 47 pence per mile to £1 per mile where appropriate and agreed; and

4.            it be noted that agreement to the recommendations above would create a stand-alone SEN Transport policy for the RB of Kingston upon Thames, replacing the existing AfC SEN Transport policy which covers the LB of Richmond also.

Voting - unanimous

 

Supporting documents: