Please have your say on Home to School TransportPublished Wednesday, 1st November 2017
The closing date is less than two weeks away for parents and carers to submit their views on possible changes to home to school transport arrangements.
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. Now the Council is looking at changing some services including introducing personalised travel budgets and independent travel training for some children.
This would cut down the need for expensive taxi journeys for individual children, which is costing nearly £3m a year for the Council to subsidise. A consultation to gather the views of families and schools on the service was launched at the end of September.
So far only 90 families out of a possible 700 have responded and now Council leaders are urging people to get in touch before it is too late. Damien Wilson, Rotherham Council’s Strategic Director for Regeneration and Environment Services said: “Thank you to the families who have taken the time to respond already.
“But we need to hear from as many families as possible in order to get a full picture of people’s views. These views will help inform any decisions taken at a future date.
“If we don’t have your view we cannot act on it. 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.”
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 really 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. I would urge all families who have not yet submitted their views to do this now before it is too late.”
The consultation, which runs until Friday 10 November.
The results of the consultation will be published early next year.