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Complex special needs transport policy for pupils

Entitlement to school transport

1. General statement of policy

This is intended as a general guide:

This statement of policy sets out the way in which the Council has decided to exercise its powers and duties to provide home to school transport in accordance with Section 509 of the Education Act 1996 and the Education and Inspections Act 2006.  Generally the Council will provide transport for pupils who are registered pupils at their local school and live more than the recognised (statutory) walking distance from it, that is, 2 miles for children of primary school age and 3 miles for older children.  For most children this transport is free, but there are charges for those who make use of the Council’s school transport services but are not themselves entitled to free transport. The Council makes no general transport provision for children under the age of compulsory education, or those of any age who attend private schools or colleges.  Generally the Council will not meet the cost of children's travel to schools or colleges other than those which are intended to serve the particular area in which they live, for example; normally the Council's zoned or catchment school. If a parent sends his/her child to another school, she/he cannot claim from the Council the money the school transport service would otherwise have been prepared to spend on transporting the child to his/her local school.

2. Entitlement to transport on complex/special needs grounds

As part of the graduated approach for assessing a child/young person’s complex special needs, the Local Authority will decide whether the child/young person would be able to comply with the distance criteria.  If the advice indicates that a child/young person would be unable to fulfil this requirement, then transport will be provided free of charge.

The Local Authority recognises that there will also be a number of children and young people who by the nature of their disabilities will be entitled to be considered under this policy.

Decisions are evidence based and made following an individual assessment of need.  The Local Authority will look at factors such as the needs of the child, the nature of the route to school and the suitability of existing transport options.

 Criteria would include:

2.1 Review of entitlement

Eligibility via this Complex Special Needs Transport Policy will be reviewed annually. 

3. Students with complex special needs who attend post 16 education establishments

Students who continue their education after the age of 16, whether at school or college can apply for transport via the CSN Transport Policy.

It is expected that the Local Authority will collaborate with local Learning and Skills Council, Further Education colleges, Integrated Youth Support Service Personal Adviser’s and the Integrated Transport Service in developing, publishing and delivering transport for students.  Schools, College Personnel and Connexions Personal Advisers have the responsibility of introducing independence training and reducing the reliance on specialist transport.  These Personnel will also be required to provide evidence for the purpose of assessing eligibility of the student’s independence skills, levels of attainment and course details in adequate time for an appropriate and thorough assessment to be made.

Transport will only be provided to the nearest appropriate college offering the course or similar. Parents/carers will need to re-apply for transport on an annual basis.  Support with transport may be provided at least up to the age of 21 and for a maximum of three years. The appropriate application form is available by calling the Assessment and Monitoring Team:

4. Pupils placed in residential schools

Assessment will be made using the criteria set out in section two. Journeys made will depend upon placement type whether that be weekly, fortnightly, at the beginning and end of each term etc.

Parents/carers will be offered, where appropriate, public transport fare or the standard mileage allowance in order for them to attend annual reviews, open days and informal school events up to a maximum of six visits per academic year upon application. 

5. Dual registration

Subject to qualifying criteria in section two, assisted travel will be offered where a child or young person is registered at more than one school. This travel assistance applies at the beginning and end of the school day only. Travel arrangements during the day will be the responsibility of the schools involved.

6. Extended schools

Subject to qualifying criteria in section two, the Local Authority will provide assisted travel where no additional cost will be incurred.

7. Children in Cheshire’s care

The school at which a child/young person is placed by the Council will be deemed the 'nearest suitable school' for school transport purposes irrespective of the Council's normal zoning arrangements in order to provide continuity of educational provision for such children. The allocation of school will be reviewed as part of the child’s regular Care Plan review.

8. Respite care

Transport arrangements for respite care and accountability are the responsibility of the individual social worker.

9. Parental preference

Where a child attends a school other than that designated by the Local Authority to serve the pupil’s home address or is not the nearest appropriate school the parents are ordinarily responsible for making their own transport arrangements and for all the transport costs. For details of criteria of eligibility for free transport, please refer to School and College Transport Policy, Section 2.1. 

10. Appeals

Should the Local Authority refuse to provide travel assistance or free travel, there is a parental right of appeal to the Appeals Committee.  Details of the appeals procedure are available.

 11. Provision

The arrangements for assisted transport which may be made under this policy will be at the Council’s discretion, taking account of the child/young person’s needs and best value principles.

These arrangements will take the form of:-

12. Travel times

Statutory guidance suggests that it is unreasonable for a journey to exceed more than three quarters of an hour for a primary age pupil and one and a quarter hours for a secondary age pupil. There may be times when exceptions have to be made, for example, attendance at an out of area school.

13. Escorts

Escorts will be ordinarily provided for children who have severe physical or learning difficulties, challenging behaviours and anti-social behaviours.

In a small number of cases, when large numbers of pupils who fulfil the eligibility criteria travel together, more than one escort may be required per vehicle. 

Escorts may also be provided in order that children/young people can use public transport services or contract coaches.

The need for an escort will be reviewed at least annually.  

This section does not apply where parents make their own travel arrangements. 

14. Additional/alternative transport arrangements

Transport will be provided at an appropriate specified place and time. It is the parent/carer’s responsibility to ensure that the child/young person is ready and taken to the agreed pick up point. 

No alternative transport will be made on that day and the parent/carer will responsible for ensuring the child/young person’s attendance at school. 

Whilst accepting that the nature of the child/young person’s complex needs will present some challenges whilst travelling to and from school, the Local Authority must have regard to the safety of others and National policies.  Sanctions may have to be considered and these could include detention to exclusion.

In certain circumstances it may be necessary to make emergency arrangements.  The guiding principle is to examine the consequences of not making alternative transport; for instance, in the case of residential students, the effect would be long term absence from school. 

Changes to transport arrangements, for example, alternative pick up and drop off points, can be made subject to certain conditions including: no resultant additional costs; vehicle availability; or causing minimal inconvenience to other travellers.  Such arrangements must be made for specific days or specific periods of time, not on an ad hoc basis and with 10 working days notice.

No transport provision will be made other than at the beginning and end of the normal school day regardless of circumstances that is, in cases of exclusion, illness etc, if a child/young person has to go home during the course of the school day, or during examination periods, the school, parent or carer is responsible for transport.