Update February 7th 2019

We recently consulted on the future of home to school/college transport for eligible children and young people with a special educational need or disability (SEND) in Richmond. The consultation ran from 14 December 2018 to 27 January 2019 (see below) 

A report summarising the responses can be found below:

Download summary of responses (opens a pdf)

The consultation responses informed the final proposals due to be discussed by the Council's Cabinet at their meeting on 14 February 2019. The Cabinet report can be found here. Sections 3.4 - 3.8 explain how the final proposals were influenced by views expressed through the consultation.  

If some or all of the proposals are agreed at the Cabinet meeting, there will need to be separate Home to School Travel policies for Kingston and Richmond (currently, there is a single policy covering both boroughs). This is as a result of the proposed changes in Richmond, as well as Kingston Council's decision not to seek to make any material changes to the current policy. 

 

We are consulting on the future of home to school/college transport for eligible children and young people with a special educational need or disability (SEND).

Over the last few years, the number of children and young people with SEND in Richmond who are eligible for help from the Council to get to and from school or college has grown significantly.This has happened at a time when councils across the country are facing severe financial challenges across all of their services. 

We would like to hear your views on

How the SEND Transport we provide can better prepare young people with SEND for adulthood. 

  • In particular, we are asking for your views on how we can make better use of some of the support which is already included in our policy - in particular, independent travel training for young people; more flexible financial support to families to enable them to provide their own transport; and introducing collection points on a small number of routes.

How we can bring what we spend on SEND Transport into line with the money available to us. 

  • Councils are only legally required to provide SEND transport to eligible young people aged between 5 - 16 years, but in Richmond we currently provide support to young people aged up to 19 years. Through this survey, we are asking for your views on changing our policy so that we only support new applicants aged between 5 - 16 years. We are also asking for your views on whether we should ask for financial contributions from parents of young people aged 16 years and over.

Drop in sessions

We have arranged the following drop-in sessions where you will be able to discuss these proposals with representatives of Achieving for Children (AfC) and Richmond Council.

  • Monday 21st January - 7pm - 8.30pm - The Venue, Heatham House, Twickenham.
  • Wednesday 23rd January - 10am - 11.30am - The Venue, Heatham House, Twickenham.
  • Wednesday 23rd January - 1pm - 2.30pm - The Venue, Heatham House, Twickenham.

This consultation closed at midnight on 27 January 2019

 

Where can I get a paper copy of the survey, or an accessible or translated version?

Please email us at info@achievingforchildren.org.uk and we will be able to help you.

Frequently Asked Questions - SEND Transport in Richmond: building independence

Over the last few years, the number of children and young people with SEND in Richmond who are eligible for help from the Council to get to and from school or college has risen significantly. This has happened at a time when councils across the country are facing severe financial challenges across all of their services.
 

SEND Transport can better prepare young people with SEND for adulthood. In particular, we are asking for your views on how we can make better use of some of the support which is already included in our policy - in particular, independent travel training for young people; more flexible financial support to families to enable them to provide their own transport; and introducing pick up points on a small number of routes.
 

We can bring what we spend on SEND Transport into line with the money available to us. Councils are only legally required to provide SEND transport to eligible young people aged between 5 - 16 years, but in Richmond we currently provide support to young people aged up to 19 years. Through this survey, we are asking for your views on changing our policy so that we only support new applicants aged between 5 - 16 years. We are also asking for your views on whether we should ask for financial contributions from parents of young people aged 16 years and over.
 

We believe that supporting young people to travel independently between home and school is an important investment – not only is it a valuable life skill, but it’s also an essential employability skill. Independent travel will provide so many opportunities for young people, not least increasing confidence in their abilities as well as supporting their future development. We believe that an effective SEND Transport system should aim to increase the independence of children and young people, and prepare them for adulthood.

Currently, £3.3million per year is spent in Richmond on providing SEND Transport support to 336 children and young people. The majority of the funding is spent on children and young people who are aged between 5 - 16 years, which is the age group the Council is legally required to provide transport support for. The Council currently spends over £225,000 per year on SEND transport for young people aged over 16 years, which we are not legally required to do.

SEND Transport has an unusual funding model, as although councils are required by law to provide the service, there is no ring fenced government funding stream or grant. It is not funded through the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG), for example, which funds all other SEND services and school and college SEND placements.

This means that SEND Transport is entirely funded from the Council’s non-ring fenced Revenue Support Grant from government or through council tax.
 

  • An increase in the number of pupils eligible for SEND transport
  • The increased complexity of children and young people’s needs – there is a growing trend for older children with more complex needs requiring transport.  This requires a higher level of personal assistant support and reduces the number of children who are potentially able to travel in the same vehicle.
  • Inflation – the contractual costs of the Skanska minibus service in Richmond and Kingston increase on average by 3% per year.  
  • Reduction in funding for local government - the amount of money local authorities receive from central government has reduced by 40% since 2010.
     

These factors have meant that the service has cost more than the available budget for the last few years. The service is projected to overspend by £151,000 this year.

Currently, 336 children or young people in Richmond with SEND receive support from Achieving for Children (on behalf of the Council) to travel from home to their place of education.

All councils are required by law to provide transport assistance to children aged between 5 - 16 years if they meet certain criteria. You can find out more about the eligibility criteria by visiting the AfC SEND Local Offer website.

We do not currently limit our SEND Transport to just the 5 - 16 years age group. We currently also provide a service to 31 young people aged between 16 -19 years.

Many councils already only provide home to school transport for children and young people with SEND aged 5 - 16 years, or provide a reduced post-16 offer.
 

We would save approximately £214,000 by no longer providing SEND transport support to young people aged over 16.

 

Transport type

Number

Taxi

152

Minibus

168

Mileage allowance

14

Bursary

0

Travelcard

2

 

Over recent years we have broadened our SEND Transport offer so we are either offering more ways for young people to travel independently, or giving families more control over how they transport their child to and from school/college. For example, we now offer the following:

  • The allocation of a travel buddy
  • Training to travel independently
  • Training to cycle independently
  • The offer of funded driving lessons
  • Use of the free travel provided by Transport for London using an Oyster photo-card
  • Reimbursing mileage costs for parents or carers

No. Across the country, councils are facing similar challenges on how to ensure they use what money is available for SEND transport as wisely as possible.

The first four proposals are already contained within our SEND Transport policy, which was developed in 2016 after consultation with families. For these first four proposals, we are asking for your views and ideas on how we can best introduce them, rather than whether we introduce them.

  • Routinely offer targeted Independent Travel Training to all eligible young people, where appropriate.
  • Introduce travel bursaries
  • Increase the parental mileage allowance where their child is the only pupil eligible for SEND Transport who attends a particular school.
  • Introduce collection points on specific routes from September 2019, where appropriate, following a consultation with any families with pupils on those routes.

The final two proposals would require a change in our policy, and we are asking for your views on whether we should introduce these at all:

  • *Richmond Council would only provide home to school transport for children and young people aged between 5 and 16 years (end of Year 11). Applications for transport for pupils under 5 or over 16 years would only be agreed in exceptional circumstances. This would only apply to new applicants i.e. existing children and young people aged under 5 or over 16 years would continue to be eligible for home to school transport.

*17/12: Under Proposal 5, a line of the accompanying explanatory text on the online survey was amended to make it clearer. The line now reads: 
"Many councils already only provide free home to school transport for children and young people with SEND aged 5-16, and for post-16 either charge and/or provide a reduced offer."

  • Introduce from September 2019 a contribution charge to parents and carers of up to £1,400 per year for all post-16 SEN transport. This option would apply to all young people transferring to Year 11 from September 2019; it would not be applied to young people aged 16 years and above who currently receiving SEND Transport, who would continue to receive this until the end of academic year in which they become 19 years old. The contribution charge would be means-tested.

The results of the consultation will be considered by Richmond’s Cabinet on 14 February 2019, when it is expected that decisions will be made on which of the options (if any) are introduced during 2019.
 

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