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Transport - please help!

(29 Posts)
StarlightMcKingsThree Fri 24-Jan-14 13:34:00

I had provisional agreement to change ds' pick up time from 7:35 to 7:50am. Not great but better.

His school day starts at 8:45am and he is 7. He gets back at 4:10.
We live 3 miles away from the school.

They just called to say that they are almalgamating two taxis to one minibus and ds' pick up time will now be 7:20 and drop off at 4:30.

He had been complaining that the journey was too long already which is why we got it changed. This also prevents him from attending NT after school clubs.

I don't drive and have a school run with other children to do.

What can I do?

I would be speaking to the Transport Services department at your local council offices as a matter of urgency.

Who has called you to make such changes and when does this start?.

What does DS's school make of this new arrangement?.

Your son is now being expected by this company (who seem to be costcutting here) to sit in a minibus for just under 90 minutes for a journey of three miles. That's only the outward journey as well!. Unacceptable on all counts.

Who has made this change and how much notice have you been given?.

I would also be having a chat with both IPSEA and your local MP.

Any opportunity to learning to drive in the longer term?.

StarlightMcKingsThree Fri 24-Jan-14 13:48:56

The transport company told me the council arranged a meeting with them and gave them the job of calling the parents to tell them. Ds isn't the first on the list. One child, just 6 is being picked up 45 mins earlier shock

The more recent Home to School Travel and Transport Guidance suggests maximum reasonable journey times for all children of 45 minutes for primary school children, and 75 minutes for secondary school children, and that this may be shorter for children with SEN and/or a disability: the child’s age and disability would have to be taken into account. Breaks might be needed when children lived a long way from their schoo

StarlightMcKingsThree Fri 24-Jan-14 13:51:49

Even if I learned to drive the logistics woukdn't work as can't be 3 miles away and here at same time.

Transport said something odd to me. They said they stood up for parents and explained that some have no alternative as can't drive. I wondered why that even came up. Are they trying to force people to not use the transport?

Again in view of what I have posted this is in breach of guidelines laid down by the Department of Education.

bjkmummy Fri 24-Jan-14 13:52:44

that's awful star but does seem to be the way a lot of LA are operating at the moment as they try and cut the costs down further. I know parents as my eldest school have now started to transport them themselves then the children face such long journeys for such short distances but that option isn't available to all parents obviously

StarlightMcKingsThree Fri 24-Jan-14 13:53:02

Transport have told me the council said it doesn't apply to out of county. Ridiculous given it is closer than any provision IN county.

One minibus instead of two taxis smacks of cost cutting on the council's part.

I would complain to all the bodies I have suggested and make your voice of dissent heard.

The council said they stood up for parents - well of course they did, NOT.

bjkmummy Fri 24-Jan-14 13:57:34

I wonder if transport were trying to tell you that the LA wanted even bigger cuts - in some areas - like in the LA next to me children at secondary only get transport if they live a certain distance away from school whereas before they would have got it due to their SEN. at my sons school I know see children walking to school who would have normally got transport - the head of the school is terrified that something is going to happen one day to one of his students

hope you get it started

StarlightMcKingsThree Fri 24-Jan-14 13:58:38

No sorry. The poor girl in the contracted transport company who had to call us as said this.

I'm going to start by puting my email on a generic letter that I can try and give to the kids on the bus if possible, with my contact details on. See if I can't get a group together.

StarlightMcKingsThree Fri 24-Jan-14 14:07:41

Thanks. I have found the IPSEA stuff, though have been trying to get through to them forever.

Will I be able to get copies of the minutes of the meeting they had do you think?

lougle Fri 24-Jan-14 14:59:18
StarlightMcKingsThree Fri 24-Jan-14 15:33:20

Thanks Lougle It looks like it will be a LONG ole complaints process though with weeks and weeks of misery, even if the LGO agree...

claw2 Fri 24-Jan-14 15:51:56

You probably know this already, 1 hour and 25 minutes travel time would be not be regarded as 'non stressful'

"The issue of school transport for children with statements was raised in the case of R v Hereford and Worcester CC, ex parte P, (1992), Times, 13 March. The court held that it was implicit that the transport provided by the local authority should be “non-stressful” if the child was to benefit from education.

Home to School Travel for Pupils Requiring Special Arrangements suggests local authorities establish a service standard for the maximum travel time. The more recent Home to School Travel and Transport Guidance suggests maximum reasonable journey times for all children of 45 minutes for primary school children, and 75 minutes for secondary school children, and that this may be shorter for children with SEN and/or a disability: the child’s age and disability would have to be taken into account"

nennypops Fri 24-Jan-14 18:29:57

If the council say the DfE guidance doesn't apply to out of county schools, they are talking rubbish.

I think you need to contact the council urgently and say they need to reinstate transport that complies with the guidance. If they refuse, or if they don't reply, say that you want to appeal. All councils are supposed to have an internal appeal system for transport cases.

Also say to them that ds cannot possibly cope with travel on that basis, that it is endangering his health and his education, and you therefore need, at the very least, the previous arrangements to be reinstated pending appeal. It would help if you could get something from the school backing that up, and also perhaps from a doctor or other expert.

If none of that works, DON'T waste time pratting about with the Ombudsman. Go to an education solicitor and get a pre-action letter sent with a view to judicial review proceedings. Any JR would be in ds' name and so he would presumably get legal aid.

I would suggest that you pass on that advice to the other parents. That way, you could perhaps jointly fund a pre-action letter and join forces generally in pressurising local councillors and your MP. It would strengthen any JR to demonstrate that there are a number of disabled children seriously affected by this.

StarlightMcKingsThree Fri 24-Jan-14 18:51:19

Thank you nenny, that is really helpful. Also claw, Attila and bk.

Roughly how much is a pre-action letter?

AgnesDiPesto Fri 24-Jan-14 19:20:22

I think the transport co probably meant they argued for 2 vehicles to continue (standing up for parents and their own business at the same time) and its the council insisting on one.

Or perhaps the council cut the rate they would pay so taxi co can only make it pay with one vehicle and driver

StarlightMcKingsThree Fri 24-Jan-14 19:37:12

I dunno. It was handled very badly. Phone call from transport company on Friday. Transport link at council on leave. Implementation on Monday.

Told it was always on the cards. Fine but it wasn't always on the cards for us. If it was always on the cards why not tell us in advance?

Managed to discover head of transport's mobile phone number so phoned him. Never heard so much nonsense. Banging on about cuts and funding and how the well-being is of utmost importance and how he will contact the school to run lessons on how to cope on long journeys in taxis.

I have had a dx for 4 years now. I have never heard anything other than 'cuts'. It means nothing to me.

StarlightMcKingsThree Fri 24-Jan-14 19:39:54

You know the usual: 'It was always in the plans' (what plans), 'as you know it's because of the huge cuts' (er no, what cuts? how are they different than the forever cuts that I've been hearing about since I was born) 'Well it can't be undone now' (Come on man, have a 'can do' attitude) 'There's nothing I can do, the decision has been made' (by whom? Surely you're the head of transport).

StarlightMcKingsThree Fri 24-Jan-14 19:42:00

The main thing:

Guidelines are only guidelines and don't apply to children in out of county schools because they can be some distance away. It only applies to in-borough.

I told him that the guidelines apply to all children. He insisted it was only mainstream and justified it by saying he is also responsible for transport for mainstream kids so should know. hmm

CantQuiteBelieveIt Fri 24-Jan-14 20:09:20

Our transport dept has been appalling from day one. Ds's taxi crashed on the way home and I never heard a peep from transport! It was the escort who had to call me, shaking and in floods of tears, to let me know she was waiting by the side of the road with ds and the car was a write off!

Subsequently ds had 30 different drivers over the next 6 weeks. What happened to that lovely contract sent to me when he started school, outlining all their responsibilities? Turned into complete apathy, my phone calls never returned, nothing ever done no matter how much I protested...I could go on.

Ds has just turned 7 and has a 75minute journey each way. I chose not to fight that particular battle as he seems happy enough. And I've seen how far it would get me! Maddening

nennypops Fri 24-Jan-14 21:17:36

The man you talked to is an utter steaming idiot.

I don't know how much a pre-action letter is, but I don't think it's much. ISTR hearing somewhere that SOS SEN have some sort of arrangement with Maxwell Gillott whereby they will do them at cut rates.

eggsandwich Fri 24-Jan-14 23:36:34

My DS goes by taxi and its 70 minutes each way though for him its not a problem as he looks forward to going in the taxi each day its part of a sensory issue for him so during the school holidays he finds it a bit tough. I know our passenger transport department dont like them travelling for more than an hour each way, I would tell them its unacceptable and if you get no joy contact your local MP.

StarlightMcKingsThree Sat 25-Jan-14 19:37:55

How do I get round claim that they are just guidelines?

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