Council Reviews SEN Transport Decisions

Decisions not to award Home-to-School transport to post-16 children with Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND) are to be reviewed.

Staffordshire County Council will look again at 50 cases from 2020/21 after an initial review of a fifth showed some need reconsidering.

The decision follows an Ombudsman’s report into one case, which found that the authority hadn’t fully considered all the circumstances surrounding the application.

Jonathan Price, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet member for Education and SEND, said: “Currently we are investing around £100 million-a-year in SEND education, plus another £15 million in providing the necessary transport so SEND pupils can get access to the right education.

“We process hundreds of applications each year and since we received the Ombudsman’s report we put right our initial mistake and we have looked again at a random sample of similar applications for post-16 students who applied on SEN or other disability grounds and whose applications were rejected.

“Using the interpretation favoured by the Ombudsman we found some examples where the application would have been granted so we’re going to review all the decisions – that’s 50 in total – to ensure we reach the right decision in all of them.

“We will be doing this as quickly as possible and where our decision was wrong we will be putting it right immediately and we will contact all those families to let them know how they stand.”

In Staffordshire, 6,300 children and young people with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) are supported by the county council – a figure 20 per cent above the national average.

And 51 per cent of those with an EHCP in Staffordshire who are in an education placement attend specialist provision rather than a mainstream school, compared to 39 per cent nationally.

The County Council is currently working towards educating more children with EHCPs locally, with the right staff in place to support them in mainstream classrooms.

Over and above the £115 million invested in SEND provision, the council recently successfully bid for an extra £2.44m to invest in creating additional places and also improving and adapting existing facilities at ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’ schools in Staffordshire.

Jonathan Price added: “It’s not ideal to be travelling long distances and we want all children with special educational needs and disabilities to be able to reach their potential by receiving the right support at the right time in their own communities, at their local school or place of education.”

Tony Walley
Tony Walley
News & Sport Editor

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