Budget Proposal 2017/18: Home to School Transport for Post 16 Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND)
Introducing a contribution from parents of SEND students to help pay for transport
We currently provide free transport to young people over 16 with SEND if they have a Statement of Special Educational Needs or Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan and their nearest suitable school or college is more than three miles from their home address. This may take the form of a bus or train pass, taxi or minibus depending on the young person's needs.
We are required under the Education Act 1996 to provide assistance with transport for young people over 16 with a Statement or EHC Plan, whose nearest suitable school or college is more than three miles from the family home, if this is necessary for the young person to access education.
However, there is no requirement to provide transport free of charge. Parents of young people over the age of 16 who do not have SEND are expected to make a contribution to the cost of their child's transport. This charge will be £703 per pupil per annum from April 2017. There is no reason, legally, why a similar charge cannot be made in respect of young people over 16 with SEND and many councils levy such a charge. We have traditionally not asked families of young people over 16 with SEND to contribute to transport costs, but we can no longer afford to provide this service free of charge.
Our Home to School Transport Policy states that a charge may be made in respect of pupils over 16 with SEND, so charging would be compliant with this policy.
What are we proposing?
To charge parents of post 16 pupils with SEND £703 per annum as a contribution towards transport costs. Based on the current post 16 SEND student cohort, and if all families decided to pay the contribution rather than making their own transport arrangements, we would save £47,101 per annum.
It should be noted that £703 is only a contribution to the cost of transport; the actual cost is significantly greater in most cases. The average cost is currently £4,503 per student.
What do we think the impact will be?
This will have a financial impact on families.
There are no exceptions for families on low incomes. However, the contribution can be paid in instalments up to a maximum of eight instalments per year. If families are suffering financial hardship and cannot afford the transport fee, they can also apply to their school or college for bursary funding. All schools and colleges receive bursary funding for their post 16 students, based on the number of students they have on roll.
The Bursary Fund is designed to assist with transport and other access issues. Schools are required to have a policy on how they allocate their bursary funds which should be made available to parents.
Please refer to the Equality Impact Assessment (EqIA) for more detail. [15kb]
What else have we considered in arriving at our proposal?
No other options to reduce expenditure in this service have been identified.
Why we would like your views
We would like to hear from you as to how this proposal could potentially impact on you and on the wider community. In particular, we would be interested in any views you have on how we can minimise the impact of this proposed change.
All feedback will be considered, and a final decision made by Full Council at the meeting on 2 March 2017. Following this, the results and your anonymised response will be published on this page.
Please note: Twitter and Facebook posts will not be considered as a valid response.
This consultation is now closed.