School transport for children with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP)
The responsibility for getting a child to and from school ordinarily rests with the parent / carer.
Gloucestershire County Council (GCC) has a statutory duty to provide transport assistance to all eligible young people where an Education, Health & Care Plan (EHCP) has been issued naming their nearest appropriate school or in the case of Post 16, college. This is outlined in both the Education Act 1996, and Education and Inspections Act 2006. Here are some FAQ’s:
How do you decide who is eligible?
Eligibility is determined by a number of factors:
- Are they going to their nearest school/college as assessed by the County Council as able to meet their needs?
- Is the distance to travel over the statutory walking distance? Distance is based on walking route as assessed by our mapping software. For pupils under 8 years of age that distance is 2 miles, and for 8 years of age and over the distance is 3 miles.
- Concessions may be made for some low-income families or those on free school meals where the child turns 8 years of age and lives between 2-3 miles.
- Assistance with travel is provided for standard school hours only (start and end of school day).
- If you are not eligible, but feel your circumstances are exceptional, there is an appeals process.
How and when do I apply?
Applications must be made to begin the entitlement process:
- An application should be completed as soon as you know you may need travel assistance.
- Please do not assume an application will be made automatically – parents / carers are responsible for applying. NB: another person can complete it on your behalf at your request – you will need to liaise with them directly.
- SEN Travel Enablement Team (SENTE) have 20 working days to process an application, but assuming it is completed properly and all the other aspects (EHCP is correct, we have timetable etc.) are in place, it rarely takes that long.
- For the peak months leading up to September, applications can be made from March.
- The quickest and easiest route is on-line via Transport assistance for SEN pupils page. The application is received immediately, and you will receive an auto-acknowledgment.
- Alternatively, you email or call to request an application form is sent out, email@example.com or call 01452 425011.
Why and when do you review entitlement?
Entitlement is reviewed for the following main reasons:
- Every time there is a substantial change, such as moving house or changing schools.
- When a child’s circumstances change in terms of their mobility.
- When a child transitions from primary to secondary.
- Where any entitlement due to Appeal, Free School Meals or low-income ceases.
Travel assistance will be withdrawn if you are no longer eligible.
Assessments are done as quickly as possible, but this can take time during the summer months, so an early application is recommended.
What transport options are available?
Travel assistance comes in a variety of forms (for Post 16, only the first two apply):
- Bus pass – we have a specialist travel training team to help train young people, if required.
- Personal Transport Allowance – a payment is given to the parent / carer to assist with transport costs based on the mileage from the school/college.
- Taxi/minibus (under 16 only) – depending on the needs of the young person a seat on a taxi or minibus may be considered. These are likely to be multi-occupancy.
Transport is only provided to those attending full-time education and at the normal school start and finish times. Unfortunately, we cannot provide transport for activities off-site such as taster days, work experience, medical appointments or those doing reduced hours
What can I expect from transport?
Taxi and minibus transport is commissioned through an on-line procurement system which requires a commitment upon sign up to provide safe and reliable transport and have enhanced DBS clearance amongst many other conditions. The expectations are:
- An introductory home visit will be carried out before transport commences.
- The hope is that the staff on transport are consistent, but this is not always possible due to staff sickness, resignations etc; you should receive a call warning of any changes.
- That staff act professionally, patiently, and empathetically.
- Pick up times should be consistent to enable arrival at school on time. If for any reason they are running late, you should be notified.
- These are working vehicles so waiting times are limited.
- Each vehicle operates under a contract which is very specific and can only be varied by the SEN Travel Enablement (SENTE). Any requests for changes must be emailed for consideration to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- All staff on transport follow the guidance given in the Passenger Safety Plan (PSP) and discuss any concerns with the parents/carers, school or SEN Transport.
How do you ensure everyone is safe?
Safety is obviously very important and GCC supports this by:
- Providing training to all home to school transport staff.
- Ensuring all transport staff have an enhanced DBS clearance
- Assessing each passenger for the most suitable method of transport.
- Producing PSPs for every passenger.
- Passenger Assistants will be provided on a case by case basis, as numbers are limited.
- Having CCTV on every vehicle.
- Inspectors that visit schools and carry out vehicle checks.
- Providing safety equipment as required.
- A robust contract compliance process.
What role do I play?
Parent / carer responsibilities:
- That as a parent / carer you are present at handover both AM/PM.
- That your son / daughter is ready to board transport at the agreed time in the morning.
- You let transport know if transport is not required (sickness for example)
- You treat transport and GCC staff with respect.
- You support with the transition to/from transport.
- You assist/advise transport staff in managing any behavioural challenges.
- You report any inaccuracies with PSP’s or aspects that have changed.
- You notify us well in advance of planned house / school moves.
- You notify us of any changes to the PSP, for example: medication, seizure history, emergency contacts/telephone numbers etc.
If you have any concerns you should initially contact the transport company providing the service or if you feel that is inappropriate or you have done so and the response was inadequate then please contact SEN transport on email@example.com or call 01452 425011
Why are there changes to transport?
Contracts form the basis of all transport operations and operate as follows:
- Short term contracts can operate for up to 16 weeks and can start sooner.
- Long term contracts can operate for up to 7 years depending on the overall value but take longer to arrange.
- Transport contractors have the same staffing challenges as any other organisation.
- Should there be a substantial change the contractor has the right to not continue operating.
- The compliance team have the right to terminate contracts with immediate effect.
- Depending on the type of vehicle a minimum of one months’ notice must be given either by GCC or the contractor.
- SENTE are governed by contracting rules and regulations, and there is no guarantee the same staff can be retained from contract to contract.
- SENTE have an obligation to provide cost effectiveness, so wherever possible there will be shared transport
This is by no means exhaustive, but it covers the most salient points. The SEN Travel Enablement Team (SENTE) are well aware of the unique nature of operation and try to be as flexible as possible within the restrictions placed upon us.