Issue - decisions
Consultation on Home to School Transport Policy Changes
Prior to consideration of the item Councillor G.Davies having declared a non-pecuniary interest left the meeting whilst the item was being considered (Minute 22 refers).
The Cabinet considered the report of the Director of Children’s Services which indicated that the Council was under significant financial pressure and a review of services had been carried out. At Cabinet on 18th February 2013 a decision was taken to review the provision of transport for children and adults provided by the Council.
The report was in respect of transport to schools and colleges for children and young people only, transport and budget savings for Adults were being dealt with separately.
The report indicated that the Council had a statutory duty in accordance with section 508B of the Education Act 1996 to provide school transport to assist compulsory age pupils within certain criteria. The Council currently also provided discretionary transport provision above its statutory duty. The application of new transport policies for students aged 5-16 and post-16 would reduce the level of discretionary transport available whilst maintaining a focus on providing transport to some of the most vulnerable students in order for them to access education. The proposed new policies were detailed in Appendices 1 and 2 in the report.
The report noted that children and young people who currently received transport support would continue to do so until they leave or change school, at which point the new policies would be applied. For some young people this would occur when they transfer from their primary school to their secondary school. The proposed changes would therefore be phased in over a period of up to 6 school years.
In respect of pupils with special educational needs and/or a disability (SEND), the proposed new home to school transport policies would provide a framework within which proactive work would be undertaken by the Local Authority with head teachers of special schools/colleges and parents of pupils, to seek their views about how to jointly shape the service to promote greater independent travel for young people.
The proposals for post 16 SEND transport have been adapted after careful analysis of the consultation responses.
The report further indicated that the 2013/14 Budget for Home to School Transport was £5.1 million. The savings target to be delivered in this area was £2 million over the period 2014/20. The proposed actions set out in the report would deliver £1,440,000 savings, which would contribute to the target of £2,000,000. The remainder of the savings would be delivered through a range of demand management initiatives, including travel training.
Councillor P.Davies indicated that this was a difficult decision that had to be taken due to the reduction in the budget but reiterated that protection of vulnerable people within the Borough remained a high priority for the Council. He urged schools and colleges to look at their own budgets to assist pupils as and where possible.
(1) the new 5-16 Home to School Transport Policy and the new post 16 School and College Transport Policy be adopted so that they apply to pupils and students commencing in September 2014 onwards at primary and secondary schools and colleges;
(2) pupils and students who have been assessed under their existing policies are to retain their current provision until they leave their current school;
(3) the change in budget savings arsing from the Post 16 SEND policy, and the remainder of the savings be delivered through a range of demand management initiatives including travel training be noted.
Councillor G. Davies returned to the meeting.