Agenda item

Transforming SEN Transport - Supporting Children and Families in Innovative and Cost-Effective Ways


The report set out proposals developed following a review of SEN Transport operations in Bromley to enable a broader offer of support for families giving greater access to preferred schools, improved transport options and more flexibility in the service offer.


Over the past five years there had been a significant increase in the number of children and young people with Education, Health and Care Plans in Bromley which had increased pressure on the arrangements for providing SEN Transport.  A range of options had been considered for the future delivery of SEN Transport designed to ease anticipated pressure and it was requested that a public consultation be undertaken on updated Transport Assistance Policies for all children aged 0-16 years, Post-16, and 18+ Adult Learners, including those with Education Health and Care Plans.  The revisions were intended to improve the lives of young people accessing services, introduce efficiencies and improve consistency of the service offer.  Updated versions of the report and associated Transport Policies were tabled at the meeting for consideration by the Children, Education and Families Committee which removed any reference to Post-16 charging.


In considering the report, the Head of Access to Education and Inclusion advised that most efficiencies would be derived from route optimisation which was also expected to offer more consistency in terms of drivers and journey times.  A specialist transport advisor had completed the route optimisation work on behalf of the Local Authority and moving forward it was planned to develop in-house expertise in this area.  The Chairman welcomed the proposals around independent travel training which would help young people develop greater confidence and independence.  In response to a question from a Member, the Head of Access to Education and Inclusion explained that the vacant seat payment scheme had been proposed to maximise use of SEN Transport; whilst it was not anticipated there would be high demand for this service, it would create an additional transport option to families not entitled to transport.  Places would only be made available under this scheme where there were vacant seats and notice periods would be enforced to ensure that children who were entitled to transport were not displaced by paying service users. 


In response to concerns raised by a Member, the Director of Education confirmed that robust data analysis had been undertaken in developing the proposed options for the future delivery of SEN Transport which could be made available to Members on request.  An in-house SEN Transport service had been considered but was not feasible as the cost per service user would be significantly higher than the proposed delivery model.


RESOLVED: That the Executive be recommended to:


·  Agree the draft transport policy for public consultation and endorse the proposed transport initiatives recommended for progression in the revised report;


·  Agree the introduction of Personal Transport Budgets and revisions to the mileage payment scheme;


·  Endorse the development of the Independent Travel Training Service;


·  Agree to the retention of existing discretionary transport support for children under statutory school age;


·  Agree to the introduction of a vacant seat payment scheme where families who were not entitled to transport may purchase the use of available seats on a vehicle accessing their school where appropriate;


·  Note the transformation efficiency gains outlined in the report, required to deliver the medium-term financial plan for the council; and,


·  Agree to delegate authority to the Director of Education to take a decision to implement the proposed policy changes in consultation with the Children, Education and Families Portfolio Holder following formal consultation and feedback relating to the proposed Transport Policy changes.

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