According to an article by CYPNOW (Children & Young People Now) the disability charity, Contact, launched an inquiry into the guidance that councils have published with regard to providing school transport for SEN pupils.
Following the inquiry, it was found that much of the guidance given by local authorities was either misleading or unlawful – out of the 59 local authorities, 51% were not acting in compliance with the law.
So who is eligible for free school transport?
The law states that “any child with special educational needs, a disability or mobility problems that prevent them from walking to their nearest suitable school qualifies for free transport regardless of how far they live from the school.”
Yet a survey of 2,568 parents of disabled children asking about their experiences of securing school transport suggests that this is not always the case. The survey found that:
“Nearly three quarters said their local authority provides transport for their child”
“74% of those who received transport got it for free”
“23% said they had been refused transport, with a top reason for refusal being that their child lived too close to school.”
“Almost half of parents said they could not work or had to cut their working hours because of school travel arrangements”
“Nearly a quarter said their child struggles to learn because of stressful journeys to school”
A DfE spokesman commented, “We are investing £222m over four years to help local authorities improve special educational needs and disability (SEND) services and local authorities must provide school transport for all eligible children with SEND.
“In light of the findings by Contact, the department will review the statutory guidance for local authorities to ensure it is clear.”
Benchmark Leasing provides cost-effective school transport, including accessible vehicles which are equipped to allow for wheelchair access, including ramps (either fully electric or manual), wheelchair and assistant lifts, and side steps for ease of access.