Free school transport for disabled young people is retained

Young people with special education needs and disabilities will continue to be funded by Oxfordshire County Council, following a decision by Cabinet members today (Tuesday, 16 July).

A cross-party group of councillors reviewed the service for students with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) aged 16 or older to find savings needed by the council in response to reduced government funding.

After consulting with schools and parents, a new approach to providing home to school transport has been agreed without needing any changes to the council’s policy for entitlement to free home to school transport. The council believes it will be able to make further savings in the future. Savings will be made by:

  • Route rationalisation – routes into 12 schools have been streamlined to use vehicle capacity more effectively
  • Bardwell School in Bicester has agreed to use their own school minibus to support home to school transport and other schools will be encouraged to do the same in future
  • Encouraging other modes of travel, including parents to take up direct payments for travel to support their own arrangements.

Councillor Lorraine Lindsay-Gale, Cabinet Member for Education who chaired the cross-party group, said:

“Giving every child access to education will always be our number one priority. We listened to the concerns of parents and schools and I am delighted to say that we have found a way to preserve that free school transport for those young people who need it while still managing to save money.”

Watch Councillor Lorraine Lindsay-Gale’s interview on That’s Oxfordshire TV here.

The council has worked with 14 SEND schools to identify the necessary £300,000 of savings for post-16 home to school transport; removing any current need to change existing SEND free transport arrangements. A separate fund has also been created to provide transport for children to go to after-school activities.