Par­ents crit­i­cise school trans­port cuts con­sul­ta­tion


Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS - By JAS­MINE RAPSON Lo­cal democ­racy re­porter

A COUN­CIL con­sul­ta­tion into plans to cut school trans­port has been crit­i­cised for not be­ing ac­ces­si­ble for par­ents who have chil­dren with spe­cial ed­u­ca­tional needs (SEND).

Mum Sarah Hodges told mem­bers of Bucks County Coun­cil’s (BCC) chil­dren’s select com­mit­tee on Novem­ber 27 that she strug­gled to at­tend the evening con­sul­ta­tion ses­sions as it is dif­fi­cult to ar­range care for her daugh­ter.

BCC launched a con­sul­ta­tion on the over­haul of the ser­vice in Oc­to­ber af­ter grow­ing pres­sures saw the au­thor­ity bust its school trans­port bud­get by £1.3 mil­lion.

The cuts could mean par­ents of young peo­ple aged 16 to 18 with spe­cial needs may have to pay for their child’s travel.

Other po­ten­tial changes in­clude scrap­ping free trans­port ar­range­ments for pupils trav­el­ling from Iver to The Chal­fonts Com­mu­nity Col­lege and Iv­inghoe to Cottes­loe School, in Wing, as well as us­ing more pub­lic trans­port ser­vices.

Ad­dress­ing the com­mit­tee, Ms Hodges said: “All the drop in times are cur­rently in the evening.

“They were from 7pm to 9pm. I have a child that has spe­cial needs and I find it very hard to get care in the evening.

“It would be nice if they were of­fered dur­ing the day the con­sul­ta­tion, the same as the early help con­sul­ta­tions and the short break con­sul­ta­tions. There didn’t seem to be any spe­cial needs con­sul­ta­tion for spe­cial needs chil­dren, as ad­vised on Oc­to­ber 22 in the cab­i­net meet­ing.”

Cab­i­net mem­ber of chil­dren’s ser­vices Mike Appleyard said fur­ther ses­sions have been ar­ranged specif­i­cally for par­ents of chil­dren with SEND, how­ever con­cerns were raised that par­ents were not given enough no­tice.

Coun­cil­lor for Penn Wood and Old Amer­sham Iso­bel Darby said: “A con­sul­ta­tion is noth­ing new to this au­thor­ity.

“I re­ally would hope that we could ac­tu­ally be good at con­sult­ing and it con­cerns me.

“If you re­ally want to talk to peo­ple you have got to give them no­tice.

“This isn’t the first time we have done a con­sul­ta­tion, so please can we get it right and please can you ac­tu­ally con­sider the peo­ple who are go­ing to be af­fected.

“The peo­ple we want to hear from – we may not like what they are go­ing to say – but we have to give them the chance to have their voice heard.”

Cllr Appleyard said the coun­cil al­ways planned to hold sep­a­rate meet­ings on the cuts for par­ents with SEND chil­dren, how­ever ad­mit­ted this may not have been made clear.

Di­rec­tor of ed­u­ca­tion at BCC Sarah Cal­laghan added: “We have done 13 ses­sions and we have an­other two sched­uled ses­sions which is quite con­sid­er­able.

“We have al­ready had nearly 3,000 re­sponses, and we know those re­sponses, when we have looked at them, that SEND par­ents are well rep­re­sented in those re­sponses. I think the fact we have had such a strong re­sponse sug­gest peo­ple have been made aware of the con­sul­ta­tion and we have spo­ken to a num­ber of par­ents at the ses­sions who have chil­dren with SEND.”

There will be no changes to ar­range­ments for pupils who are el­i­gi­ble for free school travel, ac­cord­ing to the coun­cil.

A re­port is due to be pre­sented to BCC’s cab­i­net in March be­fore a de­ci­sion is made.


Par­ents may have to pay to get chil­dren with spe­cial needs to school

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