The new SEN Transport Policy

Extremely busy Cabinet meeting today, here is what I said to introduce the Agenda item on the new SEN Transport Policy.

This report brings our SEN Transport Policy up to date, adopting best practice and aligning ourselves with other Local Authorities.

When it comes to SEN Transport, Medway Council has always been a generous authority, ensuring that our children have the best start in life and with the increasing number of children qualifying for SEN transport we need to ensure that we are doing the very best that we can.

To put this into context, the previous SEN policy was written in 2003 and is quite frankly, out of date and there are things within that policy that are over and above our statutory duties.

We have therefore, revised our policy statement, one of the significant steps being in the title, it is a Policy on Transport arrangements for children with SEN rather than home to school transport.

Transport for social, economic or domestic reasons will not be granted.

Very importantly, shared transport is specified. Shared transport is not only financially prudent but is also a good stepping stone to independence and adult use of public transport.

There is a proposal for pickup and drop off points rather than door to door transport, this will enable us to benefit through the use of larger vehicles to transport pupils and with more direct routes.

The draft policy proposes that transport will be arranged from one home address provided by parents only.  We have faced increased costs as parents have requested that their children are taken to different addresses on a regular or ad hoc basis, e.g. for child care changes.

Where children are placed in residential schools it has been the expectation of parents that transport was provided when parents wished their children to return home, we are proposing that provision is made that will home and school transport will only be provided at the beginning and end of their placement.

Another important change is that there will be an annual review of transport provision or if a family moves home.

The proposed policy also specifies that there will be no automatic transport entitlement; all parents will have to apply for transport where there is a transport entitlement.

We are also proposing to ask Academies to consult us when they change their school times to give us sufficient time to retender and thus avoid increased costs.

We have consulted widely with all parents and carers of every child in Medway who has a statement of special educational needs; I would like to take this opportunity of thanking all of those parents and carers who have responded.

In particular I wish to thank the members of the Children and Young People Overview and scrutiny committee, the SEN and Inclusion steering group,

The policy has been modified to take account of members concerns.

I will be only too pleased to answer any questions that colleagues might have and would hope that you will support the recommendation outlined in Para 12.1 on page 23.

Here you will find the full agenda for today’s Medway Cabinet meeting

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