Cabinet to reconsider school transport decision after scrutiny "call-in"

Hereford Times: Cabinet will have to reconsider its decision to change its school transport policy. Cabinet will have to reconsider its decision to change its school transport policy.

A SCRUTINY committee has decided that Herefordshire Council's cabinet should think again about a decision which could see pupils driven out of county schools.

Herefordshire Council’s general, overview and scrutiny committee called-in cabinet's decision – made last month – to implement a set of major changes to the county's school transport policy.

That decision ruled that children would be provided with free transport to their nearest school – with places and in England – only and not a catchment school as previously.

Post-16 Special Educational Needs (SEN) and mainstream pupils would be charged £720 for their seat under the scheme, and that would also be the fee for parents who continue to use transport to a school which is not the nearest.

And despite Jo Davidson, director for children's wellbeing at Herefordshire Council, insisting that the council was not "forcing" parents to move their children, members of the committee remained concerned about the potential impact of the change.

In particular, post-16 SEN proposals "go against" the council's first principle of protecting the vulnerable, according to the committee.

And as a result, it wants cabinet to “delete” its decision regarding post-16 SEN transport and replace it with a requirement to introduce a suitable “formula" to provide free or primarily subsidised transport according to need and means for those pupils.

Other grants and opportunities were available to help cover transport costs for SEN students, cabinet had reported, but councillor Gary Swinford raised concern that those bursaries could see money for families lost elsewhere.

To offset the impact of the decision on SEN pupils, the committee wants measures put in place to ensure parents are given guidance and support by the council about access to new funding and bursaries.

The committee also wants to set up a task and finish group to look into whether the council, schools and colleges review the use of bursaries and the provision of information for applicants to those bursaries.

The implementation of the policy – scheduled for September 2014 – should be put back to September 2015 to give parents time to consider their child's high school choices, the committee recommended.

An amendment of the policy decision to include the choice of “nearest school in-county” should also be strongly reconsidered, the committee heard.

Members also want officers to hold "urgent" meetings with schools which may be the most impacted as well as their local transport providers, community transport providers and local ward cluster members.

Those meetings are an effort to determine the potential full impact of the decision and to identify any measures which could minimise the effects.

Comments (2)

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10:29pm Sun 19 Jan 14

bobby47 says...

Bloody Council! They'll fiddle around the edges, disrupting people's lives to claw back a few thousand pounds but not think twice about shovelling half a million quid a month into the hungry mouths of Hoople and tell us they're saving us millions.
They'll throw tens of thousands at a Customer Service IT system that don't work and never will,work and reward the man who buggared it all up in the first bloody place and nothing gets mentioned.
They'll spend thousands and thousands of our pounds on pointless Consultancy fees and never consider whether or not this was money well spent.
They'll bung Stanhope half a million quid, spend tens of thousands upon wining, dining and feathering the nest and give them a five hundred and fifty year bloody lease and not even think twice about it.
They'll waste thousands of pounds on that bloody 'Here You Can' sign and not give the monstrous mistake a single backward glance.
They'll bung oneanother huge gagging payments designed to fuel the hungry bureaucratic monster and not think for a single moment that its not right.
They'll spend over six million quid on the destruction of Rockfield DIY, destroy its wealth, destroy its jobs, flatten the place and turn it into a bloody Car Park and have no problems proclaiming, 'WE ARE COMFORTABLE ABOUT THIS'.
They'll bully their staff, be forced to make payments in compensation and not give a jot that's its our money they are playing with.
They'll spend thousands of our money on a new shower block a prayer room and a contemplation area within Plough Lane and still even now, after all of this, they still think its a good idea to disrupt the lives of Moms and Dads who are struggling to keep going during these hard economic times.
The recession? To the Council who feast upon our generosity and our stupidity, it never happened. Not to them. Within their bubble that's disconnected from our lives, the recession was something that happened to 'us', the fools who fund this collusus we call the Council.
Bloody Council! They'll fiddle around the edges, disrupting people's lives to claw back a few thousand pounds but not think twice about shovelling half a million quid a month into the hungry mouths of Hoople and tell us they're saving us millions. They'll throw tens of thousands at a Customer Service IT system that don't work and never will,work and reward the man who buggared it all up in the first bloody place and nothing gets mentioned. They'll spend thousands and thousands of our pounds on pointless Consultancy fees and never consider whether or not this was money well spent. They'll bung Stanhope half a million quid, spend tens of thousands upon wining, dining and feathering the nest and give them a five hundred and fifty year bloody lease and not even think twice about it. They'll waste thousands of pounds on that bloody 'Here You Can' sign and not give the monstrous mistake a single backward glance. They'll bung oneanother huge gagging payments designed to fuel the hungry bureaucratic monster and not think for a single moment that its not right. They'll spend over six million quid on the destruction of Rockfield DIY, destroy its wealth, destroy its jobs, flatten the place and turn it into a bloody Car Park and have no problems proclaiming, 'WE ARE COMFORTABLE ABOUT THIS'. They'll bully their staff, be forced to make payments in compensation and not give a jot that's its our money they are playing with. They'll spend thousands of our money on a new shower block a prayer room and a contemplation area within Plough Lane and still even now, after all of this, they still think its a good idea to disrupt the lives of Moms and Dads who are struggling to keep going during these hard economic times. The recession? To the Council who feast upon our generosity and our stupidity, it never happened. Not to them. Within their bubble that's disconnected from our lives, the recession was something that happened to 'us', the fools who fund this collusus we call the Council. bobby47
  • Score: 9

12:28pm Mon 20 Jan 14

mizza21 says...

This council is an abysmal disgrace.
I have a child looking at starting secondary school in September.
If I choose anything but the local secondary school I'll have to get her there myself or pay £720 sovereigns.

Some say fairy nuff.
But what if the local school doesn't meet her needs. What if there's a cross border school 2 miles away where all her friends go, but an in-county school is 6 miles away and has problems.
Surely there can be a bit of flexibility in the system.
However, if I am wealthy I can afford the transport fees. A good education for those who can afford it. This is the thinking I would expect from a Tory Council.

The removal of post 16 SEN pupil transport provision is surely nothing short of monstrous.
These pupils are in the most need of our help at this age. They'll end up costing a lot more in the long run if we deny them a future because of penny pinching now.
I don't know how you could suggest this and be able to look at yourself in the mirror in the morning.
This council is an abysmal disgrace. I have a child looking at starting secondary school in September. If I choose anything but the local secondary school I'll have to get her there myself or pay £720 sovereigns. Some say fairy nuff. But what if the local school doesn't meet her needs. What if there's a cross border school 2 miles away where all her friends go, but an in-county school is 6 miles away and has problems. Surely there can be a bit of flexibility in the system. However, if I am wealthy I can afford the transport fees. A good education for those who can afford it. This is the thinking I would expect from a Tory Council. The removal of post 16 SEN pupil transport provision is surely nothing short of monstrous. These pupils are in the most need of our help at this age. They'll end up costing a lot more in the long run if we deny them a future because of penny pinching now. I don't know how you could suggest this and be able to look at yourself in the mirror in the morning. mizza21
  • Score: 3

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