Poor transport prevents SEND children being educated

As reported by the BBC, school transport is ‘not good enough’ for pupils with additional learning needs, the children’s commissioner for Wales says

Professor Sally Holland said they were particularly at risk of being let down when there were changes to their travel arrangements.

One parent of a teenager with ADHD and autism said he became depressed after his transport was changed by a council.

Ministers say they are committed to getting all children to school safely.

Prof Holland urged the Welsh government to review its 11-year-old learner travel measure, adding that the current situation was “not good enough”.

She said she had come across several cases in recent years illustrating the “profound effect” of insufficient transport for children.

The commissioner said, as well as changes in routine leading to stress, the children often ended up with transport that didn’t meet their needs.Holland addressed the transport issue in her annual report.

Her 145-page review of the last year also calls for:

  • A “stronger approach” to bullying, which is a key priority for children themselves. Recording incidents is currently entirely optional for schools but the Welsh government should ensure this is statutory
  • New funding for mental health residential care for the small number of young people with the most complex needs is provided. It is “very concerning” that Wales’s two in-patient units are unable to accommodate children whose behaviour is deemed too “high risk”, she said

A delivery plan to set out in detail the practical steps each Welsh government department will take to tackle the impact of child poverty – otherwise reducing it will remain “challenging”.Holland said the new law in theory should provide additional learning opportunities but young people needed to be able to travel to access them.

The Welsh government said it was committed to ensuring learners could travel to education providers safely and that it recognised there were additional challenges in the transport of some pupils with additional learning needs.

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“This includes travelling further, travelling on an individual basis or in small groups, or requiring companions to assist them in their journey,” said a spokesperson.

“The learner travel measure sets out the duties to provide safe transport provision for learners, and the Additional Learning Needs Act and the Social Services and Wellbeing Act provide the legislative background to improve outcomes for people with additional learning needs.”

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