We hosted an Information Event on 24 March 2017 with staff from East Sussex County Council outlining changes to policy. Here are a number of questions and answers arising from that event.
1.What happens if your young person doesn’t get transport, and you are unable to get them to college?
You must provide all the information relating to why your family requires post-16 transport for your child on application. if you do not agree with the decision, you are able to appeal. If you do not agree with the appeal panel decision, you have a right to approach the Local Government Ombudsman, who will thoroughly assess your case.
2.What happens to those young people who are declined transport, but who are below the statutory school leaving age?
Statutory aged children will have transport declined if the child is not attending the nearest suitable placement as agreed by the LA. In other words if the placement is parental preference. In this case the LA has no duty to transport, and the parents will need to make their own arrangements. The other reason is if the family live close to the school – so under 2 miles for low income families or children under 8, or under 3 miles if 8 and over and not eligible for Free School Meals. In this case transport will not be granted if it is considered reasonable to expect the child to walk to school, accompanied as necessary – it becomes the parent’s responsibility to get their child to school and back, whether they walk or decide on another means to get there. This is based on national statutory guidance. Again if the family do not agree with the decision, they can appeal, etc.
3.Why are families are being advised to put transport in their young person’s EHCP in East Sussex?
As far as ESCC is aware, they are not. Transport should not be included in the EHCP beyond (for some young people) including independent travel as a goal, or in some cases stating that the placement is parental preference and not the closest, and therefore parents will be responsible for travel. If there is any confusion please contact your Assessment and Planning Officer and ask to discuss this.
4.Why are families not allowed to attend the transport panels?
Application stage The Council uses national guidelines to determine transport policy and discretionary cases are considered by a panel of officers. The post 16 SEND transport application prompts families to provide details and evidence that will be relevant to the decision making process, so that families have the opportunity to set out the circumstances of their case clearly. The communication to parents or carers regarding a transport decision will set out clearly why a request was declined, to offer transparency for families.
Appeal stage Local authorities are required to have in place a review/appeals procedure for parents to follow should they have cause for complaint about the service, or disagreement about the eligibility of their child for travel support. There is no statutory requirement to allow attendance. Parents are invited to submit all relevant information with their application, and elected members from the 3 main political parties meet to consider the case.
5. Why are only Councillors sitting on the transport panel, and what expertise do they have?
Our current panel members are highly experienced, democratically elected councillors who have in-depth knowledge of the Council’s transport policies and relevant statutory guidance. The Council considers that as elected members with a duty towards the interests of residents, Councillors offer an appropriate level of scrutiny which allows an impartial second hearing for officer decisions. This is in accordance with statutory guidance.
The ESCC Councillor responsible for home to school transport policy is Cllr Nick Bennett
Key people to contact regarding bus passes for 16-19 year olds with SEND who are attending education, as well as those of working age who would like to use public transport before 9.30am to get to their place of employment. Justine Greening (Secretary of State for Education) firstname.lastname@example.org Chris Grayling (Minister for Transport) email@example.com
Copyright East Sussex Parent and Carers' Council 2017