Disabledtravel - epetition reply18 October 2007

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Disabledtravel - epetition reply18 October 2007

We received a petition asking:

"We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to allow students with learning difficulties or disabilities free transport to school after the age of 16."

Details of petition:

"Due to the location of special needs colleges and schools, transport is essential with some students unable to use public transport. As school leaving age is likely to increase to 18, it is unfair to ask students to pay when there are no local special needs alternatives for higher education."

Read the petition
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Read the Government's response


The Government recognises that transport costs can be a barrier for some students and therefore has taken a number of steps to address this problem and thereby ensure wider access and participation in Further Education (FE).

There are particular duties laid down in legislation that local authorities must fulfil to ensure that transport to further education is not be a barrier for students aged 16-19, either by cost or provision. Under the Education Act 1996 (as amended by the Education Act 2002) local authorities in England are required to prepare and publish a transport policy statement specifying what arrangements for the provision of transport or otherwise, and for the provision of financial assistance in respect of travelling expenses, it considers necessary to facilitate attendance at schools and institutions of further education of students.

Matters to which a local authority must have regard as local transport policy statements are developed include: cost; the distance between home and school/college; the need to secure a choice of institutions; and the needs of those who could not easily attend a particular institution if no arrangements were made. Guidance issued by the Learning and Skills Council on behalf of the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families emphasises supporting young people with disabilities and learning difficulties and local authorities must have regard to this guidance when determining transport policy.

On the specific point around free provision for students with disabilities or learning difficulties, not all of these students or their families are financially disadvantaged, so it is not necessarily unreasonable to expect parents or young people to contribute towards costs of transport. It is important that local authorities retain discretion in how they spend and target their money, and aim financial support for transport to those who need it. We must carefully consider what additional financial and regulatory burdens we place upon them.

It is important to note that, if a young person has a Statement of Special Educational Needs, this does not cease just because a pupil turns sixteen - unless and until the authority gives notice to cease to maintain the statement or it lapses in the circumstances set out in the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice (paragraphs 8:117 to 8:124). Therefore any transport provision specified in the statement should continue to be provided by the local authority beyond the age of sixteen.

Further Information
Rosemary, is this the same one printed in CUK's Caring magazine this month?

Paula xx