Position Statement on the 2018/19 Home to School Transport Policy 29 to 25 age range.

 

In January 2017, Portsmouth City Council consulted with parents/carers and other stakeholders about changes to the Home to School Transport Policy and the Post 16 Learners Statement. Changes to the policies were agreed and a summary of these changes have been available to view on the Portsmouth City Council website and the Local Offer website since September 2017 with the new policy due to come into effect in September 2018.

However, recently updated Government guidelines have necessitated further changes to the 19-25 age range offer .

With this in mind, PPV held a consultation event on Friday Friday 27th April 2018 where parents were invited to share their views. We then presented these views to the Empowering Children and Families Forum (ECAF) and you will find our joint position statement below:
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Empowering Children and Families Forum (ECAF)/Portsmouth Parent Voice (PPV) Position statement on the proposed change to Home to School transport policy post 19 ( May 2018)

Following the publication of the proposed changes to the Home to School transport policy for post 19 year olds, PPV held a consultation event on Friday 27th April 2018 where parents were invited to share their views. The event was supported by a representative from SENTAS and Solicitors Moore Blatch to give some background and information around the legal aspects of the Home to School transport policy. This enabled parent carers to make an informed decision and have a group discussion on the proposed changes. A good range of parent carers attended and took part in the discussions.
Those comments were discussed at the ECAF meeting on Wednesday 9th May where parent carers and members also expressed their views which are stated below:

Page 9 of the Policy
“If there is a family member/carer who is able to transport the student and why it would not be a reasonable arrangement to make”

PPV/ECAF Comments:
A post 19 student is an adult in their own right, there is no legal duty for parents, or other family members to transport them to their place of education, this duty would not be placed on a 19 year old student without SEND therefore potentially is disability discrimination.

Page 9 of the Policy
“If the student is in receipt of higher rate mobility component of the Personal
Independence Payment or Disability Living Allowance, the purpose of which is to assist those who have mobility problems with severe difficulties from walking or who need help getting around, why this should not be used to facilitate transport to a learning provider.”

PPV/ECAF Comments:
We would like to point out that this benefit is for the adult learner and does not release the LA’s duty to provide transport. While the LA may not deem it necessary to provide transport for an adult learner who receives DLA or PIP, if the transport costs were to effectively wipe out a significant amount of this benefit then that would be acting unreasonably.

Page 9 of the Policy
“If there is a Motability’ vehicle to support the student to reach their education placement we would normally expect the carer/student to make their own appropriate alternative arrangements, or provide details as to why this is not possible/reasonable.”

PPV/ECAF Comments:

If the adult learner has a mobility vehicle assigned to them personally then the LA should provide a driver (and escort is required). Again there is no legal duty for parental involvement. Motability have been contacted on this issue and they confirmed that unless the LA have the contract with Motability they have no jurisdiction to enforce how the car is used.

Page 9 of the Policy
“Please note that we would not generally consider work or childcare commitments as an exceptional reason for travel assistance to be provided”

PPV/ECAF Comments:

With regards to work commitments and childcare commitments, the LA could be acting unlawfully. To say to a parent they potentially have to give up work or restrict hours to take a 20 year old to college would again be disability discrimination. Would the Local Authority put that duty on a parent of a 20 year old without SEND?

We also find this statement difficult to read and understand. We believe this could lead to confusion and inhibit people’s ability to make comment.

Page 9 of the Policy
“Where a student follows a programme of study such as a Level 1 course the first year, and progresses on to the Level 2, the next, or completes a series of courses where the outcomes differ each year and there is no requirement to progress to the
10 second or further years to successfully complete each year, this is NOT considered a continuing course.”

PPV/ECAF Comments:

Has this section been added so less young people qualify as adult learners and are kept in the sixth form category age and then don’t receive free transport? We feel that students with special needs on lower level courses might be prevented from accessing education if they do not qualify for home to school transport purely because they are identified as not making progress. What if there are no other courses for them to access and repeat the same course for the same reason?
We also find this statement difficult to read and understand. We believe this could lead to confusion and inhibit people’s ability to make comment.

Further Comments:

Under the section 508f of the Education Act 1996, paragraph (4), transport should be provided free of charge. Could we have clarification as to why the Local Authority is charging adult learners?

There is no mention of personal budget for transport in the post 19 policy and we understand that they need to be provided by law. Is this an omission?

Suggestions:

Travel Training
We understand that budgets are tight but we would welcome the provision of travel training to give young people more independence and less reliance on home to school transport. This could potentially save money in the future

Free Bus Pass before 9.30 am
This would be much more affordable for families and enable young people with special needs and disabilities to access education and/or training.

We understand that the Home to School transport budget sits within the children services. As this section of the policy refers to post 19, would it be reasonable to expect adult social care to contribute to the same budget.

We are aware that Portsmouth is the only authority where the budget is not shared across children and adult services.

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The consultation closes on 21st May and you can send your comments to: HTSTransport@portsmouthcc.gov.uk