Home To School Transport – Update on how things are progressing
I am Pippa Hodge, one of the PaCC Reps. My focus is working alongside the local authority around Home To School Transport (HTST). I have regular meetings with the HTST where we review how the service is performing, and how to keep the service apace with the needs of the children and young people who are supported by this service.
On Monday 12 September, the Children Young People and Skills Committee meeting took place. It looked at the progress on Home to School Transport for pupils with additional needs and other social care transport contracts. Unable to attend in person, my quarterly report from the HTST Service, together with the response from PaCC , was presented there.
The numbers of youngsters using the HTST Service keeps going up year on year, which isn’t surprising as the number of Education and Health Care Plans has been increasing significantly since 2015. In our latest satisfaction survey, 93% of families were ‘very or fairly satisfied with the arrangements’. Feedback also told us that the application process could be easier – only 77% found it ‘very or fairly easy to apply’ – so there is room for improvement there. Your feedback is really important to – be that compliments, complaints or suggestions – and feedback is shared with operators frequently, so you can give feedback on the operator or crew who assist your child/children. A project is also being planned to make sure the service is getting feedback directly from students too. More on this over the next few months.
Home to School Transport is a ’statutory service’ – meaning that local authorities are required by law, to provide the service, according to the guidance set out nationally. The last update was back in 2016, and we are awaiting a long overdue ‘refresh’ that was postponed due to the pandemic. Once we have the information, we’ll share the information with families, and it will be the right time to give policies a face-lift on the council website too, as we feel they could be easier to read and understand.
It will always be really important that parents and carers (supported by school or a SENDIASS helper if needed) provide as much information about their child as possible, as this forms the basis for individual and group risk assessments that the Transport Officers (Gemma, Katy and Malcolm, supported by SEND Officer Loreen and Team Manager Kim), will use to build up the right ‘mix of children’ in the right sized vehicles for their individual and collective needs.
We are excited about two enhancements to the service over the next 6-12 months:
Firstly, Independent Travel Training is being introduced, which will begin with a small pilot, and will be delivered by expert travel trainers from Grace Eyre. It’s new territory for the service, and is limited to students who are eligible to receive transport – more information will be shared on this shortly.
Secondly, Personal Travel Budgets (PTB) as an option are being explored for any families who would find it easier to be ‘in charge’ of their child/children’s travel, and for whom the timing or the nature of the HTST provided transport just doesn’t quite work. The idea in a nutshell, is that you could make your own transport arrangements and they could be funded by the service (provided your arrangements work out cheaper/same as the arrangements already available). This actually gives quite a bit of scope and for some working families it may make life easier. Again, more info to follow, so watch this space!
Finally, a quick word about Post-19 Transport. In recent months I’ve been trying to pin down exactly how this is managed by the council as it straddles the SEND and the Adult Social Care Teams, although it is delivered by the HTST Team. It feels like there are some inconsistencies, and over the next couple of months, I will be prioritising a Post-19 Project with council officers with the aim of delivering a clear policy that will be easy to understand so that greater consistency is achieved. I will be asking for your views on this shortly.
Pippa (HTST Rep for PaCC)