Government to review guidance on travel arrangements for children with disabilities
Thursday 21 September 2017: The Department for Education has announced that it will review guidance to local authorities on home-to-school transport for children with disabilities.
This is in response to a recent report, from the charity Contact, which revealed the difficulties and challenges parents faced in finding suitable school transport arrangements for their children with disabilities.
Key findings from Contact’s report showed:
- Almost a quarter (23%) of the more than 2,500 parents and carers who responded to the survey said their child's journey to school was ‘stressful’ and impacted their ability to learn.
- Almost half (48%) said travel arrangements for their child had affected how long the parents and carers could work.
- More than half of the local authorities they studied, in England, were publishing misleading, or unlawful guidance, on transport arrangements for children with disabilities.
Young Epilepsy asked families about home-to-school transport in a survey earlier this year. It found one in six families (17%) are concerned about home-to-school transport for young people with epilepsy. Among those, one in three (34%) were with regard to young people at secondary school. This older group are often expected to travel further and/or independently to get to school.
In Young Epilepsy’s survey, a number of families spoke about their concerns that seizures might go unnoticed on school transport. They have had to adjust their schedules to enable them to take their children to and from school. Families raised concerns about taking public transport or walking alone due to the risk of seizures. In addition they voiced concern about the lack of training for transport staff, such as using emergency medication. The full results from Young Epilepsy’s school support survey will be published, in full, later this autumn
Local authorities are required to provide home-to-school transport for children who cannot reasonably be expected to walk to school because of their mobility problems, or because of associated health and safety issues related to their special educational needs or disability.
Contact’s survey had prompted the Local Government Association (LGA) to react, stating that councils are working hard to ensure suitable travel arrangements are made for children with disabilities. However, they cite ‘financial challenges’ as a contributing factor to guidance not being met by some local authorities.