Bristol Home to School Travel Concerns for Send Children:
A Send parent has sent us a copy of a letter which she feels is putting children’s special school placements at a Bristol school at risk.
The parent who sent us the letter says it does not affect her child directly, but as many Bristol Send parents experience problems fairly accessing home to school travel for their children, she is concerned that it is possible for their transport entitlement to be taken away from them.
The background to the concern comes from a Bristol special school which is reorganising Send classes to another Bristol location in its academy chain in order to free up space in its main buildings. With school transport being assessed on an individual basis according to need and location, parents are worried about whether their children will be allowed to continue using the service.
We have chosen not to identify the school or parent concerned, but the letter says:
As you are aware, xxxx have been working very closely with the Bristol City council SEND Casework Team and The Home To School Travel Team (HTST Team) to ensure that all pupils who are eligible for support with travel in line with Bristol City Council’s Home to School Travel policy with follows Department for Education Guidance, are able to attend their nearest appropriate provision as named in their Final Education Health and Care Plan (EHP).
The Home to School Travel Team work with families, young people and education settings to ensure that all children travel to school in the most ordinary, inclusive and innovate way as possible, whilst trying to be aware of travel time and individual needs such as sensory overload and dysregualtion.
The Home to School Travel and Support Guidance Statutory Guidance For Local Authorities July 2014 from the Department for Education states that for children with Send: ‘Eligibility, for such children should be assessed on an individual basis to identify their particular transport requirements. Usual transport requirements (e.g. the statutory walking distances) should not be considered when assessing the transport needs of children eligible due to SEN and/or disability’.
However, at Chopsy Bristol, we ourselves have experienced the Home to School Travel Team actively assess Send children by distance from school disregarding this element of policy and denying disabled children who cannot walk or travel even accompanied access to transport.
Minimising the cost of Send transport has always been an integral part of Send planning at Bristol City Council, most recently rearing its head in the Bristol City Council Strategic Case for SEND Capital Expenditure Increasing and rationalising specialist provision in Bristol for children with special educational needs and disabilities in Cabinet papers on Tuesday 02 July 2019.
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