Cabinet to decide consultation for proposed home-school transport revisions
Proposals on how to implement revisions to Buckinghamshire County Council’s home to school transport service will be put to public consultation if Cabinet Members give the go-ahead on Monday (22 October).
The County Council needs to think differently about the transport offer, which will present an opportunity to support more young people by encouraging and enabling them to access education, and develop their independence. Increasing demand is also causing unsustainable budget pressures and our proposals aim to address this.
The Council currently spends £15.1 million per year enabling children and young people to travel to school. Of this, £12.7 million pays for statutory provision – for those children who are eligible for travel assistance. The remaining £2.4 million is spent on transport where we have applied our discretion and agree to support young people. We know that this level of spend is unsustainable and that we need to use our limited resources to support those who need it the most.
Proposed revisions to home to school transport services include:
- Changing how we provide school transport -We have an opportunity to review our transport offer to ensure that services are of improved quality, providing pupils with flexibility to travel. This would mean reconfiguring the mix of school and public transport to better serve residents. We will be working with local operators to ensure an efficient provision that delivers value for money.
- Phasing out two local legacy arrangements-In the future, parents who choose a school that is not their nearest appropriate school would be required to pay for their transport. This will apply to the Ivinghoe and Evreham arrangements.
- Charging for transport for pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) aged 16-18 –In the future, parents would be required to contribute towards their child’s travel. This would bring it in line with mainstream Post-16 travel arrangements.Where pupils attend college, they would be able to apply to the college for a bursary to assist them with these costs. We will continue to provide transport to pupils with needs that impact on their ability to travel.
There will be no change to arrangements for more than 5,000 pupils who are eligible for free travel. Proposed revisions will apply to children and young people who are not eligible for free statutory home-to-school transport.
Mike Appleyard, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, said:”The finances supportinghome to school transport are causing us serious problems. Costs are rising which require us to look at how we can continue to get children to school safely. This might mean, for example, using public transport instead of dedicated school buses. In many cases public transport and school transport use the same routes. We are looking at a number of options to reduce costs, which limit the need to increase prices.
“I’d like to encourage feedback from our residents on how we implement the proposed options so that our future offer meets the needs of families, communities and schools. Be assured we will make changes considerately so that we limit the need to increase prices.”