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Changes to travel arrangements for children with S.E.N. ...

(183 Posts)
GossipWitch Thu 06-Oct-11 23:17:21

A friend and I went to our local autism drop in centre this week to find that a council official was there and was telling us about the proposed changes for our children and their transport to their special needs schools.

Just so that you understand what I'm writing about there is a link here.

The government are trying to put these measurements in place across the country, you just have to google it and find out for yourself.

I personally feel that this is discrimination against the disabled children and young people of this country and I don't think this is fair to us or our children at all.

This could also have a huge knock on effect to other organisations like the social services etc. Have a read through and tell me if you agree please.

bigbluebus Fri 07-Oct-11 08:29:32

I'm sorry to say that I could see this coming (although not seen anything in our area yet!). They will argue that 'disabled children are getting preferential transport arrangements above and beyond those of NT/able bodied children. Just like in our area Blue badge holders have to pay to park on council run car parks as to not charge would be discrimination!!!
DD is now in 6th form at SEN school and has free transport (14 miles each way) We have just discovered that she may qualify for the new Govt 16-19 bursary (which replaces the EMA which was scrapped). Students at mainstream schools would be spending this money on transport etc - so I wonder how long it will be before our LA catches up with this & starts to charge 6th formers at SEN school (although if she was at mainstream she would only be goiing 4.5 miles each way).
All you can do is encourage everyone you know to feed in to the consultation - although whether or not they take any notice is another matter. What they seem to forget is that even if you live close to the SEN school, you may have other children who go to mainstream primary school in a different place but which starts/finishes at the same time - so how they expect parents to be in 2 different places at the same time is beyond me!!!

davidsotherhalf Fri 07-Oct-11 08:35:32

tbh i think this is wrong, but trying to see this from both sides, i know of 2 parents that are taking the pee out of the lea....1 of them lives 5min walk from his school but because he's deaf he gets free transport (taxi) to and from school, taxi drops him off at home at the end of the day and he drops his bag in the house and he does a 35min walk on his own to the sports centre, he passes the school on his way...... another 1 boy lives in a big detatched house 2 miles from the road no sn, taxi picks up the boy to take him to school. his mum leaves in her car at the same time. she arrives at school at the same time as her ds, as she is a teacher at her sons school, she also arrives home at the end of the day at the same time as her son, it's ppl like this that ruin things for dc who really need transport. i just hope they don't make other dc/parents suffer and have to fight for transport and they take everything into account, we have to fight for enough with sn dc

rosie39forever Fri 07-Oct-11 09:20:33

Hi Gossip, i live in leicestershire and have a dd that goes to a special school on county council transport, these changes would have a massive impact on us as we live just under 2 miles from school. My dd has severe autism and learning difficulties with sensory impairment and no sense of danger or road awareness and would simply not be able to walk that far or get public transport so in effectt would not be able to go to school, my husband uses the family car to get to work in another county and we cannot afford a second car.
We went to a consultation meeting last night with the council and their justification is that other counties are doing it so why shouldn't we!! They also used the we want children with SN to be independent and have the same transport policy as mainstream pupils reason!! All of this would only save around 300k which when you look at how much the council waste in other areas is a drop in the ocean.
Our main problem with this is that policy for mainstream kids going to faith schools will remain untouched, so if you choose to send your able bodied NT child to a faith school you will still get subsidised transport for the first two children and free transport for any other children, where as if you have a child with SEN and live less than 2miles away for primary children and 3miles for junior and senior you wont get any transport at all!! so their transport policy for SEn kids will result in discrimination.
When we asked how this would impact in children with transport in their statements they said they would amend their statements at annual review!!!!
We need to get as many people as possible to fill in the consultation form on line, even if you don't live in the county as this is setting a precident and seems to be happening across the country.

If anyone has five minutes to spare please fill in the form at www.leics.gov.uk/sentrans. and say that you disagree with the proposal for changes to SEN transport Thanks

Lougle Fri 07-Oct-11 09:36:35

rosie I would expect that your child would still get free transport, because she is unable to walk that far.

I don't have a problem with it, tbh. We can't expect to be handed everything on a plate simply because our child has SN.

In Hampshire (where I live) we already have this arrangement. If DD1 was less than 2 miles from school (she is about 10 miles away) she would have her needs looked at to determine if she needed transport. She actually gets transport by default, because she lives beyond the statutory distance away.

At the end of the day, we have to be realistic. If it comes down to a choice, I'd rather money is spent on educating our children than getting them to their place of education.

Policy change like this is just to stop people being able to gain an advantage when they don't need it.

Agnesdipesto Fri 07-Oct-11 10:04:54

We had a similar consultation and I think I am right in saying the outcry meant the changes were abandoned, although poss the post 16 charge was implemented (they tried to argue that these children get DLA mobility and so were getting double payments), but I think even htat might have been dropped

If your child can't go safely by themselves the law says the LA has to pay, whatever the distance, but that could be someone to accompany them to school rather than paying for a taxi.

Transport is a massive part of the budget esp in rural areas, which I suppose is meaning less can be spent on the actual services which might make a difference to the child's outcome.

I totally support those who work and cannot transport their own child to school getting free sen transport. Or disabled children who cannot use a before / after school club but parents have to get to work. Or families with children in different schools as you cannot be in 2 places at the same time.

But I can also see the other side as I do know parents who do not work, have only 1 child, have a free mobility car but still use the taxi service rather than take their child to and from school even though it is only a mile or so further than if their child was at mainstream and I suppose I can see the argument that there is actually no reason why that parent cannot drive their own child as they would if the child did not have SN.

If we had personal budgets alot of parents would not use an expensive taxi service but would drive their own child and just claim for the petrol.

I know one family who get a taxi to take their child to respite at the weekends and I don't really see why when both parents are at home and they have a free mobility car they cannot drive to the respite home. The costs could nearly provide another family with respite.

I actually save a lot of money because DS has ASD. He is not hassling me for toys, he does not need pocket money, he doesn't do swimming lessons or football or guitar lessons and sometimes I do have to remind myself that if he had not had SN I would have been spending money on him and would still have had the hassle of getting him to and from school or paying for childcare.

Our LA did cut the faith school free transport though which I was really pleased about because (about to get flamed) that is a matter of choice, children do not have to go to a faith school.

So I think the principle of assessing each family is fine. If there is a reason eg work, no car, don't drive, other children to transport then yes it should be free. But if the parent is available to take their child I actually think they should.

TheNinjaGooseIsOnAMission Fri 07-Oct-11 10:32:04

Apart from the charging part shock we have a similar set up already here, have done for years. It does seem to work, those who really do need the transport do get it. I agree with lougle that it should be needs based not just automatic, at my dd3's last school transport would have been a total waste of money as she went to a unit in the school my other dcs were at so I was doing the journey anyway. They have however included a part that says if your other children are at different schools and you need to be in both places at once then you may qualify for transport.

rosie, I would say the same as lougle having read that, you should still qualify. Isn't the faith school policy already governed by distance from school? They probably won't tackle both faith and sen transport at the same time anyway, more people to oppose it at the same time [cynical]

Our Lea tried a couple of years ago to change the current policy to one where children would be collected from designated pick up and drop off points for their transport so no longer a door to door service. It didn't get through so now they are trying to do it on a school by school basis, sneaky feckers, but I would be very careful to insist they define what they mean by 'This could mean that irrespective of the distance from school, a pupil may still be entitled to travel assistance if a disability restricts their independent mobility.', according my lea, autism isn't covered by this under their new proposed policy hmm

Rivenwithoutabingle Fri 07-Oct-11 10:39:30

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

squidworth Fri 07-Oct-11 10:52:39

When they do this they know that the majority of those who appeal will win, but there will also be parents who receive the not entitled letter and accept it, they will struggle use family and friends as when they are told no they except it no questions asked. This is where their cost cutting works.

rosie39forever Fri 07-Oct-11 11:08:26

Thanks for the replies, i appreciate that the council needs to save money but as with ninja goose autism and learning difficulties is not covered by their policy, their current transport policy only includes "children who have visual or hearing impairment or physical difficulties or can physically only walk a short distance", these children quite rightly are protected by the law but because children who have autism or developmental disorder are seen as able bodied they aren't included in our local authority policy as it stands.

Lougle Fri 07-Oct-11 11:15:31

But Riven, your DD would still get transport under the new scheme proposed, because her needs make it essential.

All they are saying is that it shouldn't be automatic that SEN=transport, and I agree.

Rivenwithoutabingle Fri 07-Oct-11 11:21:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Agnesdipesto Fri 07-Oct-11 11:36:13

Riven they would still have to assess eg if you work, have other children in different schools and can't drop off in 2 places. Many Cls do pay petrol too if parents will drive the child.
ASD would be covered by the law. Its important to remember Cl polices are often not lawful and its the law not the policy that wins out.
An ASD child cannot physically walk for all the same reasons they get DLA mobility eg lack of danger, refusal to walk etc etc and would be covered by the law. If it would be unsafe for them to walk eg they just wouldn't make it to school then they would be entitled.
You could point out the policy is unlikely to be unlawful for LD as part of the consultation.
You could also say if they imposed this policy on all children with ASD / LD it would lead to a flood of judicial reviews.
If you get a cl decision which seems unlawful / unreasonable for your child because there is a genuine reason why you cannot get your child to school you can get legal aid and JR it.
If a child has high rate mobility it is hard to argue they can walk themselves to school.

I can see the whole personal budget thing being about cutting eg you have mobility car and carers allowance you don't need SEN transport. The idea of services coming together in my mind just means saying parents are double claiming. eg you don't need direct payments you should use the DLA for care.

Lougle Fri 07-Oct-11 11:49:01

"Rivenwithoutabingle Fri 07-Oct-11 11:21:28

Our council is talking about if younhave a motability car you wont get transport."

Well, is there a reason that you can't drive your DD to school?

I would have thought that familial circumstances will be borne in mind.

In our case, although we live less than 2 miles from DD2's school, we live 10 miles from DD1's school. They both start at 9am.

So, the LA would have a choice of either DD1 starts school at 9.30am each morning and leaves school at 2.30pm each afternoon, missing 5 hours of school per week; or DD2 does the same, missing 5 hours of school per week. Or, they fund DD2 going to early bird club and creative kids club, so that I can drop off/pick up on time, so that will cost £25 per week.

Rivenwithoutabingle Fri 07-Oct-11 11:52:48

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

silverfrog Fri 07-Oct-11 13:24:56

hardly a reasonable adjustment, riven, to expect an entire school to be adapted when one already exists not too far away hmm

a school 3 miles away is not exactly the other end of the country, is it?

I'm with lougle - there isn't an infinite amount of money. and some people do not need the transport as much as others. there are rules in place (distance from school, level of disability) which try to sort out htose entitled.

fwiw I've had a 40 mile each-way trip for dd1 before now - no hint of transport or petrol costs. dd1's commute is now an infinitely more reasonable 15 miles each way (but only because we have incurred huge costs by moving house). but still no transport - that is the deal we made in order to get dd1 into a suitable school, and so that is how it is. it stuffs up dd2's school day, as I cannot be in two places at once, but again, such is life (meant we had to choose one school for dd2 over another, due to before/after school care)

but I'm with lougle and agnes - if a parent is free and able (ie has a car) to take their child to school - well <shrug> I do think they should do so.

squidworth Fri 07-Oct-11 13:30:51

I drive my DS out of personal choice but I can take the 80 quid hit on petrol but I now many who couldn't.

squidworth Fri 07-Oct-11 13:31:35

Thats a month not a week!

silverfrog Fri 07-Oct-11 13:41:01

we're on about £70 a week now - at it's worst, it was about £180 a week. that was awful.

sometimes LA will pay petrol costs - much cheaper for them to do this than to allocate a space on transport. that could be a possibility for those who cannot afford the petrol.

squidworth Fri 07-Oct-11 13:47:30

No the cost is for all the children then divided per child so yes petrol for some would be cheaper but not for all.

silverfrog Fri 07-Oct-11 13:50:43

yes sorry, my post shoudl have said "... it can be much cheaper for them to do this..." - typing while hanging on the phone (clearly can't multitask grin)

BakeliteBelle Fri 07-Oct-11 14:12:08

For many families I know, this would be very problematic as they are having to collect different children from different schools. If the children did not have learning disabilities, they would either be at the same school, or able to walk home by themselves from the secondary school while the mum picks up from Primary.

I just wonder how these proposed changes, with a layer of assessment and - inevitably - complaints and appeals, will cost?

squidworth Fri 07-Oct-11 14:15:40

My phone changes my words, I just think means testing of transport will influence parents on which school which is wrong. It would cost the lea little to transport my son as the bus comes to my road it is i just don't want him spending longer than he has to in a taxi but I am lucky to have that choice.

Rivenwithoutabingle Fri 07-Oct-11 14:27:19

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

silverfrog Fri 07-Oct-11 14:41:46

all schools that are built now are inclusive.

it is not possible to always retro-adapt buildings and setups. both in terms of cost, and practicalities.

3 miles is hardly not local, tbh. Most of dd2's friends (NT, ms school) live more than 3 miles away.

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