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SEN transport to *mainstream* school named in Statement?(9 Posts)
After nearly a month I have heard nothing about my application for SEN transport for my DS2 to the mainstream indi he started at in April. I rang the department and they told me that he wasn't eligible for transport (at least under their remit of SEN transport) as he attends a mainstream school. But I think he is eligible for transport as the school is the only one named in Part 4 of his statement and it is 15 miles away. I'm right aren't I?
The SEN dept haven't managed to give me details of anyone in 'mainstream education' I can speak to and when I tried myself I ended up being put through to SEN transport again! I now have an email but I wanted to check the position here before I contact her.
Is he attending there under the terms of an SSEN/EHCP?
Is that the closest appropriate school?
In the SSEN does it qualify in any way the issue of Tpt in Part 4/ Pt I?
If not then he would be entitled to sch tpt.
If he does not get sch tpt then he cant get to school and therefore you can not be prosecuted for non attendance under s 444 Education Act 1996.
This is the LAs responsibility.
Yes from what I've been able to find out so far. The DfE guidance says LAs should provide transport for eligible children to a "qualifying" school. A private school wouldn't normally qualify unless it is named on the child's statement (which in DS2's case, it is).
There's a bit here on the Gov Ombudsman website about it: www.lgo.org.uk/publications/fact-sheets/complaints-about-school-transport/
Hope that helps!
ACE_Ed have a briefing paper on transport. I think this bit might be where you're coming up against a brick wall:
"School choice, transport and SEN
Parents of children with statements of SEN may find that their right to
express a preference for any maintained school is in practice curtailed by
transport issues. If the preferred school is further away than another school
that could meet the child’s needs, the LA could name the nearer school on
resource grounds. It is also open to them to name the parents’ preference
on condition the parents take responsibility for transport. See Special
Educational Needs Code of Practice 8:87-88.
However any school named has to meet the child’s needs. LAs must not have transport policies that aim to restrict parents’ preferences.
The remedy may be to appeal to SENDIST on the grounds that only the
further school is appropriate."
Also, Nigel1 has a point when it comes to non-attendance if no transport is provided:
"Transport and school attendance
Lack of transport can be a defence against non-attendance if the child lives
outside the statutory walking distance. Under EA 1996 section 444 (4) if the LA has not made suitable travel arrangements or given the child a school place nearer home the child will not be considered to have failed to attend.
If a child lives outside walking distance and is unable to attend because the
school bus can’t get through or parents’ car breaks down the absence will be authorised. If the child lives within walking distance he will be expected to walk in these circumstances. For more information see ‘Keeping Pupil
Registers – Guidance on applying the Education Pupil Registration
Regulations’ para 47 & 48."
Ds1 has full door to door transport to his ms indie - for now. Although, according to the SENCO at his AR last month, our LA are apparently rumbling about independent travel tuition, which won't be happening as far as I'm concerned, as for ds it would mean bus, train, walk, bus walk and he can't even be trusted to make it to the corner shop (on the same side of the road) at the moment). They want him to start making his own way there by the start of year 10 and he's currently just finishing year 8. While I will admit their independent travel training does look very good, ds1 is a long way of being ready for it and imo there's absolutely no way he would be able to do it, even by then.
In his case the school he attends was the closest appropriate school and our LA admitted this, as having been refused a place at the local academy, that effectively ruled out all the other secondaries in our area. Having admitted he was in the right placement, they were then liable to provide transport.
Things have changed, a lot, since then though and the LA has reduced the numbers of pupils placed out of area to 1-2 a year, with none at all going to ds's school. They have also changed their transport policy to include a rather worrying paragraph about developing independent travel skills in preparation for adulthood and efficient and effective use of resources - which basically means cost cutting and is unfortunately backed up by the new SENCOP and EHCP guidance. If we can get them to agree that they should continue to provide transport, I have a horrible feeling we're going to be told it's direct payments or nothing. Dps wouldn't be enough to pay for a door to door service and the money itself would be off little or no use to us, with two dcs at local schools and me unable to drive.
The only glimmer of hope is in the ACE-Ed transport briefing document:
"Suitable arrangements – ‘Non-stressful transport’
Travel arrangements made by LAs must be ‘suitable’. This means that any
arrangements must enable children to reach school without undue strain or
stress and to travel in reasonable safety and comfort.
This will impact on journey times and also on matters such as pick up points. 2007 guidance suggests a maximum one-way journey time of 45 minutes for
primary aged children and 75 minutes for secondary.
Likewise travel arrangements involving multiple bus changes or a long walk
either end of the bus journey may not be considered suitable."
... but then the paper also says:
"Many LAs are now changing their SEN transport policies in light of rising
costs and also a desire to promote independence and sustainable travel.
In the past many children attending special school were allocated a school bus place as a matter of course. Now parents may specifically have to apply for travel assistance. Older children in particular may be expected to make their own way to school. Parents who find that their child is no longer eligible should ask whether the school or LA has any provisions for travel training. This may be part of the school travel plan."
Between that hovering over us like a dark cloud and his EHCP transfer coming up in the Autumn, I'm not feeling very optimistic about his placement at the moment, which is such a shame, because it's only just started working and he's finally happy there.
Thanks Nigel and bedelia. Yes, DS is attending under a SSEN (the LA are paying the fees) and the mainstream indi is the only school named in Part 4 and there is nothing else written there. Yes, it is the closest appropriate school - the LA never suggested or consulted with any other school having told us to name a school having put in Part 4 of the 'original' final statement 'a mainstream secondary school.' (DS was out of school at that point.)
I now remember that when I was sent a copy of an email between DS's caseworker from the LA and the indi school, the caseworker said the LA would be responsible for the fees and support costs but she specifically said that transport wasn't the responsibility of the LA.I will challenge it....
Thanks moose as well - I have read your link.
I'm aware that even once the LA accept DS is eligible for transport we will then have to argue for 'suitable' transport. ATM I drive (or another family member drives) DS to school - his ASD and anxiety issues mean that he needs the journey to be as stress free and speedy as possible as he only manages relatively short periods away from home - and I want as much of the time as possible to be spent in school rather than travelling.
DS wouldn't manage to use public transport at this stage - it would be a bus, train, then walk and he finds even accompanied public transport journeys stressful.
Presumambly I won't need to appeal to SENDIST as it isn't the case that my LA are claiming a closer school could meet DS's needs? We had an appeal-in-waiting whilst we waited for the LA to name a school in Part 4, but I withdrew the appeal once Part 4 just named the indi mainstream with no 'conditions'.
If you are 15 miles away from the school you are eligible for Transport.
If he is ASD and finds the journey stressful then that needs to be declared to the LA and ideally have medical evidence of some sort to back it up.
If not then evidence from the school as to what he's like when he gets to school. Stressed?
If he is not calm when he gets to school he can not learn.
The case law - "Hereford and Worcester" is clear that the Tpt must be non stressful. Even if its 50 years down the road.
Be careful if he is joining an existing school run, the time he is on the bus may be extended considerably.
You're definitely eligible, based on the information they have given. Contact both the transport department and the SEN department pointing that out and asking for an urgent decision in writing. If they still say no, ask them about their internal appeal procedure and use it: you can use that also to appeal about the method of transport. If they don't get a move on either with issuing a decision or, if necessary, with arranging an appeal, tell them you will take judicial review action. And if that doesn't work contact someone like Maxwell Gillott or SOS SEN about a formal letter threatening judicial review.
I am spitting feathers! My LA have put in writing that my DS isn't eligible for SEN transport because 'it was parental choice to move X from his previous school.' DS was signed off by CAMHS as medically unfit to attend his previous school! The LA never suggested DS should return there and told us to name a mainstream secondary for Part 4 of his statement. We did, they put it in Part 4 of the statement.
So I now get to appeal. But I am at the furious stage that my LA are incapable of following the law. Oh, and the person I have to send the appeal to is currently on annual leave, so it will take 'longer' (not specified) to be dealt with. Having told me of my right to appeal, the letter writer has the gall to sign off 'Thank you for your time'!
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