Home to school travel assistance policy: What has changed in 2022

Introduction

This page summarises the changes to our Home to School Travel Assistance Policy.

The main areas that we as a service have changed is as follows:

We plan to offer a broader range of Travel Assistance options, aligned with its commitment to our climate policy agenda, promoting more sustainable modes of travel assistance

Our engagement with children and young people tells us that working towards and supporting their independence is important. These options will help empower them, prepare them for adulthood and as a result contribute to improving their quality of life.

The Council will introduce options such as bikeability (cycling safely and with confidence), driving lessons and access to TfL Oyster Card (in some areas of the county).

We will no longer require children and young people to undertake individual travel training assessment in the home. The assessment will be undertaken in an agreed location.

We will be encouraging the use of collection points, the designated pick-up and drop-off locations for pupils to meet the bus or taxi.

Where children and young people with complex additional needs or the parents or carers' own mobility or disability may impact on them being able to use the collection points, we will assess individual needs to determine suitability.

Where the introduction of collection points is being considered, the Council will consult with the parents and carers already on those routes affected by this potential change in service.

We have clarified our position on transport journey times

The 45-minute maximum planned journey time for primary-aged pupils contained in national guidance will be maintained and exceeded in certain circumstances, such as journeys which enable a child to attend the setting which best meets their needs.

We have changed the measuring system for determining Independent Travel Allowance (ITA) from straight lines to road routes

The policy currently says that the calculation of independent travel allowance is based on a straight-line (as the crow flies) calculation between a home address and school. We propose to change this to a calculation that measures distances via road route.

This is a better and more accurate reflection of the journey distance undertaken.

We have introduced a simplified mileage reimbursement system which replaces the original tiered system with the aim of increasing the take-up of this offer

We introduced a simpler scheme to enable a more unified reimbursement process for parents and carers (including how and when they are reimbursed). The mileage rates to be used will still be set in line with Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Distances will be calculated using the shortest road route.

This change will also enable us to discuss rates on an individual basis with parents and carers where the alternative would be high-cost transport.

We have changed the notice period for the removal of travel assistance in certain circumstances

If a family's low-income status has ended, applicants who have been entitled to travel assistance will be written to with the explanation that assistance will end. Travel assistance will be provided for the next 8 weeks.

We will also connect with families and offer support such as signposting to specific services if this would prove helpful to them.

We have clarified the reasons for the withdrawal of transport and include the removal of assistance if an application approved for home to school transport has been done in error

This part of the policy has been expanded to include the withdrawal of assistance if there are errors with the initial assessment. Parents and carers will have the right of appeal if assistance is withdrawn for this reason in the usual way.

We have clarified our position regarding the provision of travel assistance for under 5s

We may provide assistance to children who are aged four and entering into the reception year at primary school if extenuating circumstances have been demonstrated.

We have added information on medical and health interventions

The new policy provides guidance on the operational standards and processes which we follow if there is a requirement for a medically trained Passenger Assistant to support children during their journey to school.

We plan to reduce the reliance on one child per vehicle transport

The refreshed policy develops a focus on enabling independence and preparing for adulthood such as employment or shared living away from home. The change to individual transport will be that it will only be agreed in extenuating circumstances. This would normally be linked to medical needs or where child or young person is receiving one-to-one support in their educational training venues.

We have clarified the conditions in which transport may be withdrawn based on instances of dangerous behaviour

In circumstances where child behaviour has been dangerous and or potentially risks harm to themselves and others in a vehicle (including the driver), a review of the arrangements will be undertaken.

It is proposed that parents and carers will be written to. If the occurrences are repeated, then a parent or carer will be asked to accept a mileage allowance instead of transport being provided.

We have created an updated version of our statement for post-16 in-line with national guidance

National guidance states that the council does not have to provide free transport for those pupils over 16, but does have the discretionary power to do so.

The change to the policy will be that the we may provide travel assistance for young people with SEND over 16 in order to help them transition into adulthood and explore independent travel.

It also provides signposting to transport services for those young people who are not provided with home to school transport.

Offers of travel assistance will now focus on independent travel, including the use of public transport and not on the provision of private hire vehicles such as minibuses or taxis.

We have introduced Post 16 bursaries

When we assess a young person aged 16 to 19 years as eligible for travel assistance under its policy, the assistance offered in the first instance will be in the form of a Post 16 transport bursary to support families and young people to make their own transport arrangements, unless due to severity of need or a requirement for specialist transport means this is not appropriate. Parents and young people have the right to appeal.

We have changed our travel assistance appeals process

There is national guidance that sets out how appeals against decisions made on home to school transport are conducted. This includes a two-stage process.

Stage two must be independent of the stage one decision-making process. At present the stage two panel can be made up of members of the local authority.

We will continue with the two-stage process and the stage two panel will remain independent of the first but the membership will include council officers in the future as well as members.