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school refusual due to school transport issues

(23 Posts)
bjkmummy Sat 30-Jan-16 20:34:15

my son goes to an indie school which we won via tribunal about 3 years ago, school is quite a distance from our home address and takes about an hour.

for the last 3 years there have been no issues and he has had an excellent attendance record.

recently the school has moved to a new site and combined sites which has meant that as of January my LA have now put my son in a taxi (previously he always had his own taxi) with 2 other older children who due to their own disabilities they scream and shout most of the way to school.

my son has huge sensory issues and we did raise concerns at his AR in December but it was agreed he could sit in the front and we hoped this would work.

however it hasn't and my son has been going into school extremely distressed and telling anyone who will listen of his distress -we are then getting the fall out when he comes home.

things have now come to a head and he is refusing to now go in the taxi so is now out of school. we are asking the LA to arrange more suitable transport for him but they are saying they cant without the sen team agreeing to it - they will now meet on tue to discuss but what do I do if they refuse on Tuesday to not arrange another taxi for him? my understanding is that transport is not an issue for a sen tribunal so how do I put pressure on them? givenmy history with my LA and the fact he was palced at the school via tribunal there will be no doubt resistance to help my son at all and im expecting that the ultimatium will be that they will move him to a nearer school!

I have asked them to arrange emergency transport whilst the arguing over it goes on so we can get him back into school but ive hit the brick wall as they wont do anything as a taxi contract is in place for him (albeit unsuitable)

shazzarooney99 Sat 30-Jan-16 22:43:14

Could you take your child yourself?

WhoKn0wsWhereTheMistletoes Sat 30-Jan-16 22:43:45

This from the SENCOP seems pretty clear:

4.49 Local authorities must ensure that suitable travel arrangements are made where necessary to facilitate an eligible child’s attendance at school. Section 508B of the Education Act 1996 requires local authorities to make such school travel arrangements as they consider necessary for children within their area. Such arrangements must be provided free of charge. Section 508C of the Act gives local authorities discretionary powers to make school travel arrangements for other children not covered by section 508B. Such transport does not have to be provided free of charge.

Your DS's arrangements are not suitable. However I'm not sure how you enforce it and to be honest I think LAs are probably flouting the Code left right and centre WRT transport. It also says each LA must have a transport policy, ours states that they can only pickup and drop off at one address eg no scope for using a childminder on some days which is clearly not suitable for some families and yet they seem to get away with it. The word "suitable" is unfortunately open to a lot of interpretation.

Maybe give IPSEA or SOSSEN a ring?

honkinghaddock Sat 30-Jan-16 22:52:06

School transport must be non stressful. There is some info on this on the ipsea site.

bjkmummy Sat 30-Jan-16 23:00:26

I can't take him - it's a 40 mile journey each way - the other issue I have is due to my LA previous games with my else son I currently have to transport him to his school in a neighbouring LA which I have been doing for the past 3 years plus I have a 3rd child out of county as well

Veritat Sun 31-Jan-16 03:23:58

If they won't provide transport, you can threaten judicial review on the basis that they are also refusing to give your son full time education or the special educational provision set out in his statement or EHCP. Contact SOS SEN for an official pre-action letter if they still won't do it.

It sounds like you might be entitled to transport for your other son?

OneInEight Sun 31-Jan-16 08:23:20

We had this issue with ds2. School made it worse by forcing him into the taxi on the way home which was not a pleasant journey by all accounts for the escort.

We took him in ourselves for a few days but when the LA didn't budge we stopped taking him and emailed them every day to say he was not going in. School contacted them for us too. After about two weeks they conceded and provided individual taxi's.

Staggering to believe it but they tried the same thing the next year with the same child that had caused the issues even though we and school had explained it was not that he would not share a taxi but that this pair of children were totally incompatible on both sides. As I pointed out when either of the children had a meltdown at school several staff came running (and I mean running) to control the situation so how on earth did they think it was safe for one elderly lady to manage the situation in the taxi,

ds2's placement broke down anyway before the transport situation was fixed and whilst this was not entirely to blame it was certainly a contributory factor. We had a verbal agreement that they would go back to individual taxis but he was refusing totally to go in by this point.

I think my recommendations would be to (I) get school to ring the transport people (ii) Keep contacting the SEN team to say he is school refusing to get their help and (iii) to try and escalate further up the management hierarchy. Problem is transport and school fees come from different budgets so you need to go up maybe even as far as the commissioner to point out that there is no point them paying expensive school fees if the transport prevents him getting there.

I do get the transport people are under severe pressure to make economies but there is a reason why children like ours end up in specialist schools and this means that shared arrangements can destroy the placements.

bjkmummy Sun 31-Jan-16 08:35:01

School have sent a very clear and detailed letter stating the anxiety it is causing him - the meeting they are having on Tuesday includes a person who is the budget holder for the independent school placements so hopefully they sort it on Tuesday.

Transport sent us a letter (which was hand delivered to our home on Christmas Eve) stating that they were changing his transport but that the transport arrangements could be reviewed at any time if they didn't work. It twittered on about how my sons needs had been considered and how it was agreed he could sit in the front. We hoped that would have been okay as knowing my LA and the 4 tribunals they put us through that if it came to this we were in for a long battle. I have used JR before for the elder boy and they did back down but whilst we fight that it's time isn't it that he remains off school

We could get transport now for our elder son as at transfer to ehcp they removed the part that his special school was our choice as the LA were forced to concede that he needs to be in a special school and he meets the ridiculous criteria they have of being 6 years behind so they quietly removed the mainstream alternative. Reality is that now he is stuck in his routine and I don't think he would appreciate going on a minibus with other kids. Plus even if he did and I transported the other son to his school 40 miles away I would have to start the journey an hour before the minibus came and get home later as well so it wouldn't work but I have sat and thought through every way I could get the younger one to school but I'm stuck until this taxi situation is resolved

Ineedmorepatience Sun 31-Jan-16 08:43:21

So sorry to read this bjk sad angry

bjkmummy Sun 31-Jan-16 09:39:03

I need to prepare myself for a JR I think. DH is convinced they will say 'we have provided suitable transport and its our sons choice not to use it'

thankfully as I said before school have wrote a very detailed letter explaining the 'considerable' distress the taxi has caused him and our sons high level of sensory needs and how since January he has stopped talking at school and also eating as his anxiety is sky high.

my son has said that he is not refusing to go to school he is refusing to go in the taxi. I am meeting school on Tuesday and I have to take him and he is happy to go with me as I have no childcare but needed reassurance I am taking him with me when I leave and not leave him to come home in a taxi. transport already asking me if I have family or friends who could help cos of course as a parent of 3 sen kids I have a wealth of readily available friends who don't work and would happily transport my child 40 miles to his school......

to get to the meeting at school on Tuesday - we wont get there until 11am which is the earliest we can get there due to the other sons school transport needs and then we have to leave at the latest 1pm to make sure we are back for the school pick up so even if I did transport him he would only be in school for 2 hours a day

my other worry is transport is meeting with the sen officer who has made us fight every step of the way - 4 tribunals, a costs order against them, one previous judicial review and a stage 2 complaint - yep shes really going to be open to helping us I don't think so it looks after just a matter of weeks of no battling my battle armour needs to be dusted off again

Veritat Sun 31-Jan-16 15:38:46

Any LA who tries to fob you off on the basis of this being your son's choice would be laughed out of court, right before being ordered to pay rather a lot in legal costs.

Nigel1 Sun 31-Jan-16 21:34:21

You have a SSEN.
The SSEN names the school.
The LA has a legal duty to provide that education, challenged by Judicial Review if it is not provided. It would never get as far as a court as the LA would concede.
The LA has to provide transport as it is over the statutory distance
The Transport has to be non stressful. [Hereford and Worcester]
Does the school agree that he is arriving at school in a condition too stressed to engage in education? If so then it is clear that the current arrangements are not working.
The LA were warned at the last AR that this may happen and so it is not unexpected.
Get the school to advise the LA that attendance is being impaired though their actions.
Unless urgent action is affected then he is at risk of becoming a school refuser and will require Education Other than At School for the same length of time that he would be recurving at school. It is not that he is unable to attend school; it is that the means by which he is being being managed is not working.
By asking for EOTAS you are increasing the LAs costs against the costs of providing individual transport, to force them to act.
Basically they are trying it on.
Challenge them firmly in writing along the lines above with written confirmation by the school.

bjkmummy Sun 31-Jan-16 21:54:11

The school has put it all in writing very clearly that the transport is causing him huge stress and is a very powerful letter. Transport say they can't do anything without Sen teams say so as they have assessed him as being able to share a taxi. I'm hoping on tues they back down and sort it but as its me I worry the LA will ignore it and I also think they don't know the law - it's madness cos I've won 4 tribunals, a costs order and a previous JR but they never seem to learn. Fingers crossed Tuesday resolves it when they have had their meeting otherwise JR it will be.

Nigel1 Mon 01-Feb-16 13:37:40

If that is the case then clearly he will need to reassessed.
This is normally nothing more than a paper screen/tick box exercise.
Good luck

bjkmummy Tue 02-Feb-16 16:44:26

update :- kind off what we expected - they refuse to allow a separate taxi for him so will continue to send the current one each day

they are now going to have an 'investigation' as to why my son is suddenly now not coping

they said that they assessed him 3 years ago when he started at the school as being able to share - he then didn't share for 3 years as no other child from LA at school but that assessment 3 years ago stands . it looks like the only consultation done before changing the contact in January was speaking to the taxi company rather than the school.

so on that basis they don't understand the problem - the fact he is in a taxi with 2 children who due to their own difficulties are screaming and shouting and being repetitive in their language for 2 hours plus a day.

their solution - to give us £50 a day for a taxi which at tribunal they argued would cost £28 k a year - they say the current taxi for the 3 of them is £150 per day so my third share of the £50 should cover a 40 mile plus each way journey twice a day. I can of course ask friends and family who I have lots of readily available (not) to spend 6 hours a day transporting my son to school

so looks like we have reached stalemate. I asked them to organise a taxi and use the £50 a day to pay for it as its soooo easy isn't it to do that - they refuse - I either take the £50 and do it all ourselves or put him back in the taxi he is refusing to get in.

they have evidence from school but now they need more. it was raised at the AR as well and I also have the email I sent the taxi company in nov expressing concerns

so no way I can get him there - even if I did take him as I have to transport my elder son he wouldn't get to school until 10am or later and then we would need to leave at 2pm so the disruption to him and also his class of 5 other kids needs to be considered and what am I meant to do - walk the streets for 4 hours??? who cares if I have a job or a life......

cant tell me how long this 'investigation' will take but I bet we can conclude that it wont be a separate taxi will it.

some of the things school have wrote:

he has become distressed by the journey since sharing a taxi. he has huge anxieties around noise and other people and his refusal to come to school in the taxi worries me considerably. he has made a list of his concerns about the school move and the shared taxi figures heavily on this list. in school he has stopped eating and communicates with his most familiar staff using writing rather than his voice to communicate. the impact of the anxiety of the journey creates lasts all day as it take him the morning to settle into class and then he begins to worry about the return journey as the afternoon approaches'

but that's not enough apparently ......

Ineedmorepatience Tue 02-Feb-16 16:47:10

sad angry

Veritat Tue 02-Feb-16 18:18:34

Find out immediately what the process is for appealing this decision and put your appeal in, backing it up with evidence about why your DS can't share a taxi. Refer them to the DfE's Transport Guidance, especially paragraph 35 which says that transport arrangements must be stress free.

Write to them also and ask how quickly the appeal will be dealt with; quote what the school says and ask whether they are prepared to arrange a separate taxi at least till the appeal is heard as otherwise your child won't be able to get to school. Tell them that if they're not prepared to do that you will have to begin judicial review proceedings.

If that doesn't get a satisfactory reply quickly, contact SOS SEN about getting a formal letter before claim sent.

bjkmummy Tue 02-Feb-16 19:05:15

ive asked them to arrange a separate taxi already whilst they faff around and they refuse point blank to do it - I have more or less pleaded with them - they are saying that they cannot have 2 separate contracts going so I either send him in the taxi or accept the £50 per day - they will not organise a separate taxi for him full stop.

the appeal process is the generic appeal process so here I believe its 10 days which of course they will stick by their guns and then the next stage is the same I believe. they have seen what the school are saying - they want more - they want to try other methods of him coping in the taxi with the 2 other asd children. he wears headphones as it is. the taxi driver can see it, the other parents of the children in the taxi can see it -just my LA cant or wont.

ive told them he cannot now get to school but they just do not care at all

Nigel1 Tue 02-Feb-16 19:46:22

IM me and I will do my best to help.

bjkmummy Tue 02-Feb-16 20:11:27

school have now emailed me as they have been contacted - school suggesting we hold a meeting with everyone there including my son - im not sure and to arrange a meeting that school and LA can attend given that school I know how no space to hold such a meeting before half term sounds like this is going to just run and run but I don't want to be unreasonable - I want the transport in place now. I guess its good LA are contacting the school so quickly but its the delay between that and no real chance the LA are going to back down anyway is there.

OneInEight Wed 03-Feb-16 07:42:08

sad

Makes my LA look good as they did back down for ds2.

dh's idea is to get the LA exclusions / attendance officer involved who might be interested in preventing the school refusal.
My idea it to escalate it further up the management chain. We found the lower rungs had their hands tied but there was more movement higher up the chain.

It's probably not possible in your circumstances but could you get your ds to school using the £50 one day a week by a taxi your arrange yourself to demonstrate it is not school refusal but taxi refusal that is causing the problems.

We also called an emergency annual review when the school refusal had been going on a while although actually because they had given in he was back attending by the meeting. So this might be another way to get some movement on the situation.

Would it help if school provided the escort rather than the taxi company as they might reduce anxiety in all the children concerned. Could the taxi company provide a different vehicle e.g. larger minibus, black cab type thing.

bjkmummy Wed 03-Feb-16 08:45:12

The taxi company only have ford galaxy cars and because of other reasons of the other children's needs that wouldn't be able to be changed as the other children's parents would have issue with changes to their child's transport.

I think we would need a 55 seater





bus to get him to share in all reality! The simple truth is that the LA won't back down as its me.

Trying to find a taxi to take him is proving hard as where we are is so small so all the taxi company already booked up with taxi contracts - will try his current taxi company again today. My LA just seem totally oblivious to the law and that's the problem as they don't see anything wrong in what they are doing

bjkmummy Sat 06-Feb-16 15:47:47

and on it goes - JR threatened, complaint gone in = appeal against the transport decision gone in - son now enters his 3rd week off being off school. they refuse point blank to provide transport so we are stuck. now waiting to hear how long the appeal will take = I think by the end of the week we will be lodging JR against them

they've asked school to answer a list of questions they have sent to them which they are awaiting school to do. school coming to see me at home on Friday - school totally behind us which helps. but my god this is so so so stressfull

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