Kent County Council has begun a public consultation on its new Home to School Transport Policy.
KCC’s transport policies are currently expressed through a combination of formal statutory duties, Member decisions and parental guidance. The council says the new policy will combine these into a “cohesive transport policy, to ensure full transparency and provide a single point of reference, making it easier and more convenient for parents and students”.
For post-16 students, no changes are planned for 2023-24, but KCC is required by the Department for Education to consult each year, regardless of any changes, to ensure the Policy provides a full picture of the available transport and support.
For ages 4-16 a number of changes would come into effect from September 2024, and the new policy’s aims include:
- Reducing the administrative burden that parents face when securing transport for their children;
- Explaining how KCC takes a family’s personal circumstances into consideration and how decisions for additional support are made;
- Highlighting alternatives to placing entitled children in KCC-provided vehicles; and
- Explaining the appeal process for occasions when applicants disagree with their child’s assessment.
The policy also brings together existing guidance and information on how procedures work and details how KCC fulfils its legal duties to identify pupils who are entitled to free school transport and provide them with suitable arrangements.
Other changes under consultation for introduction in 2024 include the way KCC fulfils its statutory duties to support 16+ learners, including those with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP). Parents and students should consider these when making decisions about education for that year.
The main changes proposed are to:
- Introduce greater flexibility for transport to an alternative address, making it quicker and easier in many cases for the applicants to obtain a decision;
- Remove the non-statutory provision of wholly free post-16 transport for learners with SEND;
- Remove the non-statutory provision of additional drop-off and collection times for post-16 learners to accommodate partial attendance; and
- Introduce qualifying criteria for learners seeking transport for new education courses starting after their 19th
Rory Love, KCC’s Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, said: “We are keen to hear the views of families who make use of our Home to School Transport arrangements on any changes that may affect them.
“Their feedback and participation in this consultation is really important and will help shape our final decisions.
“A report will summarise the consultation results, which will be discussed at the Cabinet meetings in May and June.”
Feedback can be provided via the consultation questionnaire which is split into five sections and parents are invited to answer as many or as few questions as they wish that are relevant to them.
Drafts of the documents are available to view from the consultation webpage www.kent.gov.uk/schooltransportpolicy.
(Picture – Kent County Council)