The council policy is:
- to promote independent travel for all secondary age children unless it is clear that following an assessment due to their special educational needs and/or disability they cannot be transported to school safely
- to support parents and schools/colleges to encourage and promote independent travel for children at secondary school age
- to develop sustainable methods of transport such as walking, cycling and the use of public transport to replace taxi travel to and from schools and colleges
- for schools and parents to work collaboratively to develop children’s’ and young people’s independence by actively supporting independent travel trainers, as appropriate to work with children for agreed periods of time
- to develop life skills, self-confidence and self-esteem of children and young people within their local communities
Where a child has special educational needs (SEN), a disability or mobility problems the council must assess on an individual basis whether the child could reasonably be expected to walk to school. This applies whether or not the child has a statement of SEN or an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).
Subject to this individual assessment, parents or carers are responsible for ensuring that children with SEN, a disability or mobility problems arrive at school on time, safely and ready to learn. There is no automatic entitlement to transport assistance for these children. If the individual assessment concludes that the child could reasonably be expected to walk to school and is therefore not eligible for additional assistance, the usual statutory distance criteria (as set out in paragraphs 2 and 3) would still apply.
How the Council will assess eligibility for additional travel assistance
In all cases children must be resident in Brighton & Hove and will normally have an EHC Plan or statement of special educational needs issued by this council.
The local authority will consider providing home to school transport assistance for children:
- who are of compulsory school age (this does not include children under 5 years of age or young people post 16)
- who have special educational needs and/or a disability which affects their ability to walk, cycle or use public transport to school
- who have been offered a place at the nearest suitable school and provided that this is more than the qualifying distance set out in paragraph 2 or for low income families set out on paragraph 3
- where parents/carers have a preference for a school further distance from home (see paragraph 9.214 of the Code of Practice 2014) the local authority would not consider providing transport assistance
Where a child does not meet the eligibility criteria but where parents/carers consider that there are circumstances when transport assistance may be provided they can appeal against the Council’s decision through the two stage appeal process set out in Part 4 of this policy.
If the parent or carer of a child with SEN, a disability or mobility problems considers that the child may be eligible for additional assistance with travel from home to school they must complete the home to school transport application form (Appendix 1) and submit this to the SEN Team. The form is intended to capture all the factors that may need to be considered in assessing eligibility.
When an application form is received, a risk assessment will be requested from the child’s school, or if the child is not yet attending the school, from other professionals working with the child. Key factors in this assessment will be whether the child can travel to school independently (either accompanied or unaccompanied), whether the child can travel to school independently with support from a travel training plan, or whether the child is not yet ready to travel independently with any form of additional assistance.
The application form and the risk assessment will be considered by a Transport Panel of 3 officers drawn from the Home to School Transport and SEN Teams. They will consider this information against the eligibility criteria for additional travel assistance (Appendix 2). By reference to these criteria the panel will decide:
- whether the child is eligible for additional travel assistance
- whether it would be reasonable to expect the parent or carer to accompany the child to school
- if it is decided that the child is eligible for additional assistance, the form of assistance to be provided
The form of additional assistance to be offered may include for example arranging for a child to be met from a bus stop close to the school, escorted travel with a bus pass, a group of children travelling together by bus with an escort, taxi or minibus transport from a set meeting point, and taxi or minibus transport from home to school. Other forms of assistance may be offered – this is not an exhaustive list.
Where it is decided that a form of assistance other than a taxi or minibus direct from the home to school and returning to the home will be offered, the Home to school transport team will liaise with the school to agree a home to school travel plan for the child. The aim will be to identify a progressive plan with reduced additional support as the child grows in maturity, confidence and awareness. Safety and safeguarding will be paramount considerations.
The general expectation, in line with the Department for Education’s statutory guidance, is that the child will be accompanied by a parent where necessary, unless there is a good reason why it is not reasonable to expect the parent to do so. Reasons could include for example the parent’s own disability or medical reason (supported by evidence from a medical professional), the age of the child and whether one would ordinarily expect a child of that age to be accompanied.
If a Motability car has been provided for the benefit of the child, consideration will be given as to whether, if parents or carers agree, this should be used to take the child to school. In such circumstances the agreed mileage rate will be paid (30p per mile).
This assessment process will normally take place alongside but separate from an initial SEN/EHCP assessment process or an annual review. This will allow time for independent travel plans or transport arrangements to be agreed and for the child and the family to know what the arrangements are and who will be providing them in advance.
Parents and carers of children receiving additional travel assistance are required to complete an application form each year at the time of their child’s annual review and eligibility for additional assistance or changes to the existing arrangements will be assessed by the Transport Panel alongside the annual review process.
Additional assistance with home to school travel is for home to school and school to home journeys. Home to school transport will not be provided for other journeys which form part of the child’s educational programme, such as reintegration visits or lessons based in other schools or colleges. Similarly, it will not be provided to improve attendance at school. Journeys such as these are for schools to arrange and fund from their own resources.
If parents require support with any aspect of their application for home to school travel, they should contact Amaze which is the Parent Partnership organisation by phoning 01273 772 289.
How the Council will assist in developing independent travel skills
Normally, schools will be the key providers of independent travel training. They know the children and their needs best and are also best placed to liaise with families to ensure that they support and have confidence in the arrangements made for their child’s travel to school. Independent travel training can be integrated by schools into the child’s education programme.
It is expected that independent travel will normally be more cost effective than taxi or minibus transport and that costs will reduce as children become more confident in travelling independently. It is recognised that some arrangements, for example those which rely initially on the child being escorted for the whole journey, may be more expensive at first but that costs will reduce through the life of the plan.
The Council will discuss with schools any funding required to implement their independent travel training programmes and where agreed will make contributions from the home to school transport budget.
It is expected that over time all schools with eligible children, including mainstream and independent special schools, will develop the capacity to arrange and support independent travel training. The Council will work with schools to assist them in developing this capacity, for example, through sharing the good practice of other schools.
Parental Preference for children with a statement of Special Educational Needs or Education, Health and Care Plan
If a child is eligible for assistance with transport, this will be provided to the nearest suitable mainstream or special school named in the statement or Education, Health and Care Plan. If parents prefer to send their child to a school that is further away than the nearest suitable school named by the local authority, transport will not be provided and parents will be required to make their own arrangements to ensure their child attends school. Parents have a right of appeal against any decision not to provide travel assistance.
Pick up points
Where as part of a package of travel assistance it has been agreed that a child will be picked up with other children from a specified point it is the responsibility of parents or carers to take their child to the pick-up point. If the child needs to be picked up from a different pick-up point or address, this must be agreed in advance unless the address is respite care. If the respite care is outside the city, parents need to contact their Social Worker.
Transport at a different time of day
If pupils attend school at a different time of day or at a different site, schools should check that the travel arrangements can be changed but normally where changed arrangements relate to the child’s educational programme (short or longer term) or assist in promoting attendance, extra costs should be met from the school’s budget. Normally travel assistance will not be provided to and from after school clubs unless this can be done at no additional cost and with no unreasonable disruption to the travel of any other children sharing transport.
The council will not provide transport for children to attend nurseries and other pre-school settings.
Escorts will only be provided for children with statements of special educational needs or EHC Plans in exceptional circumstances and will be reviewed regularly. A full risk assessment will be carried out by the child’s school before an escort is arranged.
The SEN Code 2014 provides that where a LA names residential provision ‘at some distance from the family’s home’ the local authority must provide reasonable transport or travel assistance. If a child attends a residential school on a weekly, half-termly or termly basis, the request for transport will be individually assessed. Older children may learn to travelindependently. An escort will not be qualified to provide any form of personal care and if this is likely to be required a parent or carer will need to accompany the child.
Changes in arrangements
Any change of arrangements must be reported by the parent to the home to school transport team, for example change of address, change of respite arrangements or any other change.
The only exception is when a parent is cancelling transport because their child is ill. In this case, the parent should contact the transport operator first and then the Home to school transport team as soon as possible. The council must be sure that transport is only provided when it is really necessary.
Readiness for travel
A child’s parent or carer is responsible for getting them ready for school and taking the child to the vehicle. If the child is not ready, the transport will depart or leave without them and the parent will be responsible for getting the child to school. This is because the transport needs to keep to its timetable or schedule which may include picking up other children. The driver will only wait for a maximum of 5 minutes for any child.
Parents or carers who are not at home
If there is no one to receive the child when they are taken home, drivers will on no account leave the child outside the house. Drivers may leave the child with a neighbour or relative, only where this has been previously agreed and or the contact information is given on the child’s Pupil Information Sheet provided by the school or parent to the council. It is therefore essential that parents or carers inform the transport provider and the Home to school transport team of any changes in address or arrangements for receiving a child other than at home by posting or emailing the pupil information sheet to the Home to school transport team.
If there is no one at home to receive a child after school, drivers are instructed to follow the following procedure:
- wait up to 5 minutes for the parent to arrive
- take the other pupils home and return at the end of the travel route
- if there is still no one there, contact the office who will in turn contact the home to school transport team
- the home to school transport team will contact the school in case they have information
- the home to school transport team will next contact social care colleagues and or the Police
If parents or carers are unavoidably delayed and cannot get home on time, they are asked to contact the home to school transport team.
Drivers may also be concerned about leaving the child in other circumstances, for example where there was no adult at home, or the parent or carer appears to be unfit to care for the child. In those, or other circumstances, where there is concern of any kind and in order to safeguard the interests of the child, drivers are instructed not to leave the child but to contact the Home to school transport team immediately to take advice.
Administration of medicine
The council and its staff including escorts, taxi drivers and bus drivers will not give medicine to children during the school journey because they are not trained doctors, nurses or health care assistants. Drivers will receive general training in equalities but they are not medically trained. Parents or carers must tell the home to school transport team if there is any possibility at all that a child will need medication or a medical procedure, during the journey to or from school. The reason for this is to keep the child safe. In exceptional circumstances, parents or carers can contact the Home to school transport team to seek advice about whether a different arrangement needs to be made.
Medical emergencies of children
If there is a significant risk that a child may be unwell during the home to school journey, at school or when returning home from school, there must be an agreed, written emergency action plan in place. This emergency action plan will be agreed in advance between the parents/carers, the school, the home to school transport team and the transport provider. This will normally mean agreement about whether:
- in the event of a medical emergency the child should be taken home, to school, to hospital or to another healthcare setting. Often it will be the nearest place where medical help is available
- the child should be taken by the transport provided by the council, or whether the driver or escort should dial 999 for an ambulance if the child is in any way in danger
The agreement about medical emergencies will be written down on the pupil information form provided to the home to school transport team by the parent or carer.
In the most serious cases of life threatening conditions, the medical agreement should be written up as a formal protocol, agreed by the parents, school, transport operator and doctor. Where schools have sufficient concerns about a child to consider a protocol arrangement, they should contact the home to school transport team.
Standards for SEN transport provision
All transport operators under contract to the council to provide home to school transport receive guidance from the council on required standards for this provision. Performance against the contract is monitored by the home to school transport team and by schools. Key aspects of the guidance include:
- in accordance with Department for Education guidelines, all children attending schools within Brighton & Hove should be able to reach their school within 45 minutes for primary age children, 75 minutes for secondary age children and for children with SEN a shorter time may be desirable
- drivers will be licensed and drivers of large vehicles will hold a PSV licence
- all drivers and escorts will hold a current Disclosure and Barring Service check. This will be updated every three years
- all passengers will wear seat belts and wheelchair users will have properly fitted webbing restraints to hold the chair securely. Child door locks and window locks will be used in vehicles where they are fitted
- children may need a special harness as identified through the risk assessment process. Where this need is identified, the transport provider will ensure that the harness is correctly fitted to the vehicle and the child
- parents will have contact details for the council’s Home to school transport team and for the driver or switchboard of the transport provider who takes their child to school. They will be given information about drop off and collection times
- all drivers and escorts should carry ID and show it to parents upon request
- if a parent is considering changing the wheelchair for their child or there are other changes in the child’s circumstances that may affect their transport to and from school, they should inform the Home to school transport team as soon as possible using the contact details provided because it may affect the type of transport provided
- wherever possible the drivers should be the same to ensure continuity for the children. This should also be reflected in the length of contracts awarded to transport providers
Post 16 Transport
There are separate arrangements for students aged 16 and over who need help with travel costs. This applies if students want to continue their education in a school sixth form, sixth form college or further education college. The post 16 transport policy is published separately here: Brighton & Hove Post 16 Transport Policy.