Consultation opens on home to school transportPublished Thursday, 28th September 2017
Parents and carers of children and young people who require specialist home to school transport are being urged to tell the Council their views.
Rotherham Council has to provide transport assistance to and from schools for any child or young person who meets the eligibility criteria, including special educational needs or disabilities.
Some of this assistance includes help with journeys on buses and contracted transport provision on coaches, minibuses and taxis.
The Council is now looking at what it currently provides to see if there is a way of changing it to create a modern, more flexible and sustainable service that meets the needs of children and their families.
A consultation to gather the views of families and schools on the service has now been launched. It includes the Council’s proposed areas of change and how future services could be delivered.
Damien Wilson, Rotherham Council’s Strategic Director for Regeneration and Environment Services said: “We want work with parents, carers, families and schools to ensure all children requiring travel assistance are able to get to and from school safely.
“That is why it is vital that we hear from families their views, so we can ensure the best possible outcomes for all concerned, for children now and for future generations.
“We need to be clear however, that we are in a situation where the current arrangements are not sustainable in the long term so there will have to be some changes. We need to work with parents to best understand how we can do this including allowing children with special needs and disabilities the opportunity to learn to be more independent, or other schemes where parents can control their own travel arrangements to suit their families’ needs.”
Like other local authorities Rotherham Council has been hit with budget cuts, which in the next two years will see it having to find £42m of savings.
This has instigated a review of all policies and practices, including Home to School transport. The money spent now needs to reflect value, give more choice and promote independence on a financially sustainable basis.
One of the options being consulted on which the Council has not used before is Personal Transport Budgets. These would allow parents and carers to arrange their child’s home to school travel arrangements to suit their personal circumstances.
Another option being considered is the introduction of an Independent Travel Training service. This is a service which is already implemented in other Local Authorities but yet to be considered in Rotherham.
It would offer children and young people who have special educational needs and physical disabilities the chance to gain skills to be able to travel independently, should they want this. The aim is to promote independence, confidence and social skills which could in turn open up opportunities to further education, employment and leisure.
Jayne Fitzgerald, speaking on behalf of representatives from Rotherham Parents’ Forum, added: “It is important that the voice of parents, children and young people are heard through this consultation as this will help the Council understand the needs of families living with special needs and disabilities in Rotherham.
“This is an opportunity to use experience of families to shape the service for better outcomes for children and young people. Therefore we strongly encourage all families to take time to share their views so the Council can use these views to shape future services.”
The results of the consultation will be published early next year.
The consultation, which runs until Friday November 10, can be completed below: