Home to school transport is provided for 480 children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities who attend schools and colleges. Of these children, 30 faced major disruption to their arrangements at the start of this term.
The problems followed vehicle operators withdrawing at a very late stage from agreed home to school transport routes. From 14 August to 3 September, 14 out of a total of 127 routes were returned and needed reallocating. This affected 62 children and led to unprecedented strain on the service.
Cllr John Allcock’s first action on taking the role of chair of Children, Young People and Skills Committee at today’s meeting was to offer a full apology, promise action to resolve ongoing issues and announce an independent review into what went wrong.
Cllr Allcock said: “I want to make a direct and unreserved apology on behalf on the administration for the distress, anxiety and stress that has been caused to children, young people and families as a direct consequence of the change to Home to School Transport arrangements.
“The absolute top priority at the moment is to ensure the wellbeing of the children and young people concerned.”
He explained what has been done so far and what the next steps will be to resolve the issues. Parents have been offered reassurance and specific ongoing issues are being looked into. A meeting will be arranged with PaCC (Parent and Carers Council) to discuss concerns. Contractors that pulled out of routes without providing the contractually agreed 30-day notice period will be contacted about their breach of agreement.
The committee also heard that an Independent Review of the entire process has been instigated and an approach made to another Local Authority in the region to enable a thorough investigation. The results of the review will be reported to the Children, Young People and Skills Committee in January 2020.
Cllr Allcock said: “I want to give this assurance - absolutely no stone will be left unturned. We will be inviting all involved to contribute to that report, parents, schools, governors, parent associations, officers and suppliers.”
Parents are asked to continue to refer any concerns about Home to School Transport to Richard Barker, Head of School Organisation, email@example.com or 01273 290732.