There are still more than two weeks left for Hampshire residents to have their say on proposed changes to the County Council’s School Transport and Post-16 Transport Policies.
Two public consultations are running until Wednesday 6 December, seeking feedback on a range of proposals to provide more flexible transport arrangements that better respond to children’s needs, demand and external market pressures. These proposals are not part of a savings programme, and do not include any proposed changes to the eligibility criteria for School Transport and Post-16 Transport.
Councillor Edward Heron, the County Council’s Executive Lead Member for Children’s Services, commented: “We are keen to remind people they still have time to share their views as part of these two consultations, if they have not done so yet. This is vitally important and will help to inform any final decisions that are made. We particularly want to hear from families who use these transport services and others with a direct involvement or interest in them. Please do take the time to read and feed back on the proposals, and to share details of the consultation with anyone else you think may be interested in contributing.”
The key proposals being consulted on are outlined below:
Post-16 Transport Policy
This service is for young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) who require transport assistance to access further education or training. As with most Local Authorities, this is a discretionary service that requires a partial parental financial contribution, with the majority of the overall costs funded by the County Council. The proposed changes to the Policy are:
- Increasing the parental financial contribution, annually from September 2024, in line with inflation. The charge does not apply to families on low incomes or in exceptional circumstances.
- Small changes to the Policy wording, to align more closely with the separate School Transport Policy.
Those wishing to comment on the proposed changes can share their feedback by calling, emailing or writing to the County Council. Contact details are available on the consultation webpage.
School Transport Policy
This service is for children aged five to 16 years old who require assistance to travel to school. The proposed changes to the Policy are:
- The introduction of Personal Transport Budgets, designed to give families greater choice and the flexibility to create more tailored transport arrangements.
- The development of an Independent Travel Training offer to support a small number of children to travel independently, where appropriate and in agreement with parents.
- The regular review of Passenger Assistants (PAs), who accompany eligible children with additional needs on their journeys to school, to ensure the right support continues to be in the right place.
- Increasing the parental financial contribution towards discretionary School Transport services, in line with inflation.
- Small changes to Policy wording to reflect the latest statutory guidance from the Department for Education (DfE).
Those wishing to respond to the School Transport Policy consultation can find an information pack and consultation response form on the County Council’s website. Easy-read versions of all documents are available, along with paper, Braille and other translated copies on request.
Analysis of the consultation feedback will be presented, alongside final recommendations for both Policies, to Councillor Heron at a future Decision Day in January 2024.