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Transport - Urgent Question, Please Help!

(18 Posts)
maryellenwalton Sun 02-Oct-11 21:48:44

Would really appreciate any advice.

Ds1 (4.5) been at his special school for 2.5wks now, and goes via transport, a journey which has thus far taken approx 45mins each way.

There were a few teething troubles but in the last week things seemed to have settled down nicely.

On Friday I found out that they are adding another child, a 13 year old, to his transport...he is going to the same school but the secondary site, which is 15mins away from the primary, and starts and finishes at different times.

This is itself I have no problem with. I expected that he might have to share at some point, and can see some positives to that. The problem is that I have just had a call from the taxi firm to say that they now need to pick ds up 45mins earlier, as this other boy lives at the other end of the borough and they want to pick ds up first. This means that ds will now be in the car for 1hr 45 mins, and I just think this is too much for a 4 year old. It is doubling his journey time.

So my question is, do I have a right to complain? Or would this be seen as a reasonable adjustment to his journey? I cannot stand to think of him on a journey that long, and am desperately trying to think how I can start driving him myself but with a 2 year old soon to start nursery near home, and a 7 year old at school nearby I can't see how it could ever be possible.

Dammit! I'm in a right state now

tradesmansentrance Sun 02-Oct-11 21:55:23

No idea of the legal ramifications but not many adults would be able to do that commute and be perky either end. Totally unreasonable. They need separate taxis.

intothewest Sun 02-Oct-11 22:11:27

I wouldn't let my DS go on a journey that long each day- Totally unacceptable- I think that round here the benchmark is no longer than an hour (which is long enough !)

No wonder you're in a state- I really would complain !!

izzie123 Sun 02-Oct-11 22:15:36

You should have a look at your county council's policy on SEN transport. Ask them for a copy. There is a general guideline that it is ok to transport a child for up to 1h15 mins each way. So yours is significantly higher than this and if you are not happy with this I think you probably have very valid grounds particularly as he is little.

maryellenwalton Sun 02-Oct-11 22:27:52

Thanks so much for the replies. Will speak to transport first thing tomorrow, but they won't be open in time to avoid ds doing a mammoth journey in the morning at least.

I'm just so scared that due to cuts etc I'll have no choice but to suck it up (impossible) or take him myself (impossible)

I did google my LEA's transport document and they follow govt guidelines of maximum 45 minutes for primary children and 75 mins for secondary but crucially these only apply to schools in borough (ds is out of borough). This doc did say that 6 children currently travel more than 90 mins each way but as a pal said not only could those be residential placements but it's unlikely that many of those are as young as 4.

I just can't see them stumping up for separate taxis...aaargh!

starfishmummy Sun 02-Oct-11 22:41:13

The response i used to get was that the maximum times for travel were just " guidelines" and not set in stone which was not very helpful.
But have a word with your ds's teacher - you may find that they are on side as they want their pupils to arrive in a fit state to learn and in our case got the transport changed.

Tiggles Sun 02-Oct-11 22:45:30

I think it would be very reasonable to enquire why it is expected that the 4 year old should have the 1hr45min journey rather than the 13year old.

AgentProvocateur Sun 02-Oct-11 23:03:44

Gosh, that's a really tricky one. Presumably, it costs quite a lot for two 90-minute round trips in a taxi every day for your DS, so you can see why they'd be keen to take the other child in the same taxi. But 1hr 45 mins on the end of each day is a lot. Is there an escort in the taxi too?

Presume that the secondary starts earlier and finishes later, which would account for 30 mins of the extra time, but it would cut some time (but not much) off your DS's journey if he was picked up later.

Does he (or could he) sleep in the taxi, and is he happy being in it?

maryellenwalton Sun 02-Oct-11 23:22:59

Yes, I can see that it's tricky for a cash-strapped LEA, for sure. Unfortunately it just so happens that the locations of the 2 children couldn't be worse, logistically.

The secondary school starts 15mins later and finishes 15 mins later.

The problem is that the other boy lives closer to the school, so if they collect him first they would have to pick HIM up v early, and he would then be driving quite a way away from the school to collect DS, and then back towards the school again. But if they collect DS first, it is still a 45 minute diversion at the v least to collect the other boy, and DS then has to be picked up at 7.30am, for a 9.15 school start.

We're talking hideously snarled up London driving here, so it's not a pleasant smooth drive by any means. DS certainly doesn't mind being in the car, but I'd say much beyond an hour and he wouldn't be happy. Especially if it was happening day in day out (and twice a day, as there is the same problem on the return journey). They will only have him in a simple booster seat, so no way he could sleep, and tbh it would bugger up his night time sleep no end if he did.

There will be an escort looking after both boys.

I realise transport is a privilege. and have been very grateful to get it. But it's turning into a nightmare, and it's just breaking my heart that I can't take him myself, and spare him all of this

BakeliteBelle Mon 03-Oct-11 09:22:03

Three and a half hours on transport per day for a four year old?!!! That sounds really outrageous.

Why do cuts have to impact so badly on the most vulnerable members of society? Would the people who work at Transport put their four-year-old on a bus for three and a half hours every day? Cruel cruel cruel and can mean the difference between being educable or not by the time they reach school

chatee Mon 03-Oct-11 10:28:57

check out the ipsea website they have clear ibfo that will help you

BobLoblaw Mon 03-Oct-11 15:54:42

Have you finalised the statement? It's written into my DD's statement that she could not cope on transport for longer than 30 minutes, she goes in a LA taxi now with an escort.

Nigel1 Mon 03-Oct-11 16:30:04

The key issue is how stressful is the transport of the child. It may be that 10 mins in a taxi woudl be too stressful. The legal precident is Hereford v Worcester - transport must not be stressful to a child. The rule is under 11 not more than 45 mins over 11 upto 1 hr 15 mins. However given his very young age I would suggest it shoudl be less than that. It is irelevant whether the child is in or out of borough.
Transport is not a privilage. If the child can not attend school then he can not be educated and the LA would be held responsible. Put the blame where is lies - on the LA.
Say given the change in circumstances the journey time is unreasoanble and the LA now needs to provide an individual taxi due to the escalating journey time.

ethel1 Mon 03-Oct-11 21:03:10

I'd phone transport and point out the 45min policy,ask the school for their help
I'm sure they will agree with you.
I hate to say but if you let them get away with this now,it will get worse as he gets older,I gather that he has got an escourt.

r3dh3d Tue 04-Oct-11 12:45:26

What do school say? Ime, school try not to get involved in Transport issues because they have no power at all in the relationship (it's paid directly by LEA after all) and get caught up fighting your battles without actually getting better results than you. BUT if LEA are being genuinely unreasonable, the fact school rarely get involved can mean that when they DO get involved LEA take them seriously. A phone call from the Head to a contact higher up in the council, saying it's not reasonable to put a child this young on Transport for this long might go a long way.

Mind you, a letter from paediatrician (or even GP) would be even better. LEA like paperwork on this sort of thing because ime stuff like school transport is expensive and the sort of thing the auditors find easy to check when they come in annually to go over the council's books. So it's hard for them to justify 2 different taxis going the same(ish) route, it stands out like a sore thumb. If they have a doctor's letter in the file, saying they need 2 different taxis, the auditors will let it pass.

maryellenwalton Tue 04-Oct-11 13:45:02

Thanks for all the advice since I last posted!

Nigel1, ds has a statement but there is no mention of transport at all

ethel1, yes he has an escort (now shared between the 2 boys)

r3dh3d, I have told the school and they did say it's something they try not to get involved in, but they were alarmed to hear that ds would be facing a pretty long journey both ways and said they would support me if I needed them to , eg confirming that it could affect ds's educability.

As for what has happened since I first posted...well the LEA are not returning my calls, or the calls of the head of the taxi firm. No surprise there. Things haven't been too bad in the morning (well, if you call 75mins not bad) as the other mother seems (inexplicably) happy to have her son collected first, at 7.30am. But yesterday pm ds had a 90 minute journey home as the other boy was dropped off first.

I'm really not sure what to do now. A friend suggested I give it a week, noting down all the journey times, and then presenting the LEA with the facts re how long it's taken each time. I think it's a good idea to have that evidence but still hate to think of subjecting ds to some pretty long haul trips in the interim!

To that end, I called in some favours re dd's school run, and am going to pick him up myself today. So he should have a relatively supersonic 30mins to endure (touch wood)!

starfishmummy Tue 04-Oct-11 15:30:54

Statements often don't mention transport unless ther is something really specific to the child; this does not mean that the LA can wriggle out of providing "non stressful" transport as has been previously metioned.

growlybear Tue 04-Oct-11 19:51:21

oh hec we too have transport issues.Round here they say that kids should not be on bus for more than an hour but i think they are just guidelines.I would also speak to the sen office .That is what i have just done because they can liase with ed transport.

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