Merton Council has launched a consultation on possible changes to the council’s home to school/college travel assistance policy, which is primarily for children with SEND (special educational needs and disabilities).
Firstly, we are seeking views on shifting the focus from organised transport – particularly travel by taxi – to more independent forms of travel, such as encouraging independent travel training and promoting personal travel budgets for parents/carers to enable them to get their children to school.
We are also seeking views on a range of options for assistance for non-statutory school age – pre-school and post-16 – children and young people. The consultation will run until 5 January, 2022, and the responses will then be considered at the Council’s Cabinet in February.
The consultation includes an invitation to complete a survey and a webinar is being held in partnership with Kids First, the independent forum for parents of children and young people with disabilities or special needs.
In addition, we will be organising sessions both with staff involved and with children and young people in the three schools where we transport the most children. We are also inviting all Merton residents to share their views with us.
Any change of policy that is agreed following this consultation will apply to new applicants rather than existing pupils, though the council will continue to periodically assess the travel needs of a child or young person as it can change over time, for example, as they grow older, some children may become more able to travel independently.
Councillor Eleanor Stringer, Joint Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Children and Education, said: “We want our policies to providing transportation to schools and colleges to be as fair and effective as possible.
“Our approach should be to support young people to have positive experiences while in education, and to grow into independent adults. It is critical that any decisions over changes to our services for children and young people with SEND is taken with the input of those with lived experience of them.
“This consultation will allow us to fully examine all our policies on home to school transport, to ensure that support goes to those who need it most.”