In September, the chair of our Children, Young People and Skills Committee announced an independent review into the problems relating to the new home to school transport arrangements. This review will now start in January. It will look at what went wrong and why.
The review will involve around 40 hours of interviews with people who were involved or affected and want their views to be heard. The reviewers will then make recommendations about how the council should run the service in the future. The review will include input from the city’s Parent and Carers Council (PaCC), children, young people, families and other interested parties including councillors.
We recognise that it has taken quite a long time to find independent reviewers with the expertise necessary to carry out this review. We aim for the independent review to be completed by February and will then be considered by CYPS committee in June, ahead of the plans for the new academic year being implemented.
In addition, the committee agreed to set up a cross-party policy panel of councillors, chaired by Cllr Hannah Clare, deputy convenor of the Green group (and an opposition lead councillor). This panel will work separately but in tandem with the independent review to avoid duplication.
The panel’s role will be to review the current operations of the home to school transport service. Part of this work will be to look at how home to school transport is provided by other local councils to see where we can learn from others.
Once the independent review has been completed, the panel will oversee the implementation of any recommendations.
This panel held a preliminary meeting on Wednesday 18 December to discuss the scope of the work to be done.
This first session was not held in public which is standard for council meetings of this type. Future sessions will be held in public unless the Panel needs to consider material which is confidential on either a personal or commercial basis.
All the agreed terms will be reviewed at the next panel meeting in January 2020.
The panel agreed a comprehensive list of issues which it will consider over forthcoming months. The Conservative councillors left the meeting before this list was agreed. They remain invited to future meetings and it is hoped they will be involved.
Joining the panel members at each meeting will be representatives from groups affected by the issues faced at the start of term and representatives from the teams involved with running the service. Public contributions are welcomed in the form of written information which will be discussed at panel meetings.
The Panel agreed that anyone with relevant information to the review should be encouraged to provide it to the separate independent review, which will commence in January.
Following the independent review the Panel will consider what further information, if any, is needed, for the Panel to have confidence in the outcome of the review and make recommendations going forward.