CPCF advice on home to school transport

Cumbria Parent Carer Forum 

Registered Charity number 1175734 
 
Cumbria Parent Carer Forum – Advice to parents on home to school transport - 22nd June 2018. 
 
The Forum recently had a meeting with Cumbria Council on 7th June; There is important advice we can give parent carers who are in great need of consistency for their children relating to transport. 
 
Provided there is compelling evidence that can be given to Cumbria Council that there is a great need for consistency, it is possible to request the Council not to change your child's transport provider as part of a re-tendering process.
 
Retendering is the way the Council ensures they get the cheapest providers and is a process they go through every few years, or if there is some other reason for a change.
 
Compelling evidence would be, for example, a report from a professional that gives reasons demonstrating your child suffers if there is a change of routine in transport, such as a new vehicle or personnel, and suffers to such an extent that his or her education and/or wellbeing is deeply affected, and the report gives the professional's expert opinion that the transport provider should not be changed where at all possible. Suitable professionals may be a psychiatrist, psychologist or a headteacher, or perhaps others may be appropriate. There would be no guarantee that Cumbria Council would agree to this in any particular case, but the Council could be challenged if it is not meeting the needs of students with SEND. 
 
It would also be a very good idea to include the professional's report, together with a passage about your child's transport needs, in your child's EHCP when it is reviewed. If there is any objection to this, refer to the Code of Practice that the Council must comply with, where it says at paragraph 9.215 that transport should be recorded in the EHC plan in exceptional cases where the child has particular transport needs. 
 
CPCF would be grateful for any feedback from parent carers. We have heard the Council are undertaking a pilot scheme of providing the home to school transport themselves. If this proves successful, the scheme may be extended. This may improve your child's situation as there would no changes to transport through re-tendering, provided the council maintain a consistency of vehicle and staff. 
 
There were other matters raised at the meeting and shown on our feedback form, but we show below the details and hope it may help some of our members: 
 
1. CPCF asked for better communication between the Transport Team of the Council, who understand transport, and the Special Needs Team who deal with the Council's other duties to students with special needs, and ourselves at CPCF who represent parent carers and best understand our needs and our children's needs. 
 
2. Complaints were made by some parents, that they did not receive letters notifying them of new tenders being arranged; the Council has agreed to email parents, perhaps through the school, to ensure there is better notification of any consultations as to changes, and to use CPCF's social media to advertise these consultations 
 
3. The Council agreed to ensure that checks are carried out at the annual reviews that there is up to date information as to parent carer telephone numbers, emails, etc, and that any consent required to share information (including relevant information on a student's EHCP) between departments and/or public bodies and/or contractors, is asked for and given by parents 
 
4. Similarly, there should be better communication as to the needs of our children, especially those with particular medical requirements or potentially challenging behaviour; an example given was wheelchair users or others who need special or particular transport; and as another example, those students who cannot travel by car unless the radio is on (or, perhaps for others, off); these needs must be made known for the purpose of ensuring transport is organised to suit our children, and this is an area where parents and schools can give notes to be included in the risk assessment made for transport journeys, and Council staff must ensure these assessments are maintained and used by transport companies
 
5. Further, there should be a simple discussion before each journey between escort and teaching assistant or parent, particularly where a more vulnerable child is transported, to ascertain if it has been a good day for the student or whether he or she is upset or stressed in any way; however, it is difficult to monitor if this is being done, but it can be written into guidelines. 
 
CPCF asks for feedback and information from parent carers on any subject that is important to our members relating to the local council, the local health authority or other providers of SEND services; this can be done through our website, our facebook page, or by emailing us. 
 
If you are worried about any comebacks, there will be full confidentiality by being anonymous or by changing names – we will take everything we hear of seriously. 
 
If you are not a member of CPCF, we will be delighted if you join us and become a member. There is strength in numbers, and we are here to represent your interests. 
 
Here is a link to our membership tab on our website:
 
http://www.cumbriaparentcarerforum.org.uk/index.php/get-involved/parent-carermembership-form
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