Families whose children use home to school transport, provided by Barnsley Council, will soon be consulted on an updated version of the policy which covers the service.
Barnsley Cabinet members will be asked to support the draft updated Travel Assistance Policy at their next meeting on Wednesday, 16 November.
This is an updated version of the council’s last Home to School Transport Policy 2015-16 and it has a greater focus on promoting independence, where appropriate. Travel training, in particular, gives young people skills for life that can be carried forward into adulthood, along with increased independence and confidence, and improved self esteem.
The aim is to create a modern, adaptable and efficient service that better meets the needs of people who need the service most.
To understand how the changes will affect current users, Cabinet members will be asked to support a nine-week consultation with service users, residents and other relevant stakeholders, prior to implementation of the updated policy planned next April. The consultation process will start at the beginning of December.
Cabinet members will be informed that the draft updated policy has been brought in line with the council’s corporate strategy by supporting eligible children and adults with the provision of statutorily required services that encourage and support independence.
No immediate changes will take place as a result of the updated policy; it is the beginning of a planned process to modernise the service. There will be no changes to services for people currently receiving them, only new assessments.
Cllr Roy Miller, Cabinet Spokesperson for Place, said: “The previous policy was based purely upon providing transport services whereas the updated policy provides assistance. We want people to be able to achieve their potential in Barnsley, so providing assistance where appropriate to help people help themselves is a way of reaching this goal.
“The demand for this service has increased from 300 people to around 1,000 people
in the past two years and demand continues to increase.
“In the context of changing demands and reducing budgets there is a need for change but we need to understand how these changes will impact its current users.”
The key aims of the draft updated policy are to
- create and support independence in line with the council’s corporate strategy,
- provide a more sustainable, efficient and effective service offer;
- update Barnsley’s policy in line with Department for Education best practice,
- align Barnsley’s updated policy more closely with the adjacent south Yorkshire authorities and those services that South Yorkshire Passenger Transport support;
- support and complement the Barnsley SEND Strategy 2016-18.
Key changes to the policy include the introduction of a range of options to encourage independence:
- Travel assistance, comprising a range of options for pupils: A Zero Fare Pass (ZFP) purchased by the council from South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE); Personal Budgets – in particular for pupils having SEN or EHCP, paid via their personal budget; Mileage Reimbursement – paid half termly or termly retrospectively, based on the family’s choice; Independent Travel Training –as part of a pupil’s curriculum to encourage independence; Travel Assistance – via a coach, mini-bus, people carrier or taxi/private hire.
- The introduction of annual reviews to assist in the development of independence for any qualifying pupil in receipt of services through the policy. Greater dependency and use of Travel Training as an option: The benefits of travel training are proven to show greater access to education and employment opportunities. It also provides greater accessibility, road safety awareness, improved health and a reduction of dependency on social services
- The introduction and use of a Personal Budget which will place the choice of provision with parents and carers.
- A review of the appeals process.