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(UK) Birmingham: 900 SPED students to lose school transport

Mar 11, 2024, inews: Nearly 900 SEND children left without school transport amid Birmingham council cuts 

Midlands


Pupils with special educational needs and disabilities aged 16-18 will no longer be eligible for council-funded taxis or minibuses to take them to and from school or college.


Nearly 900 vulnerable children have been left without appropriate transport to school after funding cuts at bankrupt Birmingham City Council, i can reveal.


From September, pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) aged 16-18 will no longer be eligible for council-funded taxis or minibuses to take them to and from school or college.


A total of 5,048 children currently use the home-school transport service, including 861 teenagers aged 16-18, the council has confirmed.


Councils are legally required to provide transport support for SEND pupils aged between 5 to 16 in compulsory education, but support services beyond that are non-mandatory.


The cuts to SEND transport will save about £7m [$9M], according to the council – part of £52m slashed from its children’s and families budget.


This is part of £300m [$383M] in spending cuts approved by councillors last week after Birmingham council – which is the largest municipal authority in Europe – effectively declared bankruptcy last year over multimillion-pound liabilities to settle equal pay claims.


The Labour-led council has faced a £760m bill to settle equal pay claims and costs of more than £100m for the botched roll-out of an Oracle IT system to streamline payment and HR processes, five times the original estimate.


The cuts, which will see street lights dimmed across the city and reduced funding for adult social care, are thought to be the biggest budget reduction in local authority history.


Adrian Weissenbruch, assistant director of Home to School Transport at Birmingham City Council, ran a consultation meeting for parents on Thursday 7 March where he confirmed the service was changing. . . . 


Parents of SEND children have expressed “anger” and “upset” over the withdrawal of support, with some fearing they will have to stop working and others saying their child will have to drop out of school.


I spoke to parents who have vowed to launch an appeal against the council. For many, this will be the the second time taking the council to tribunal after fighting to get their child an education, health and care plan (EHCP) in the first place. . . . 


 “My son’s future has been taken away”


SEND parent Angela Glen, 43, from Birmingham, said her son’s future has been “taken away from him” as he will not be able to get to his special educational needs school without a council-funded minibus.


Jake, 16, has complex needs including autism, ADHD, dyspraxia, dyslexia, anxiety and depression. Currently, he travels to school on a minibus that takes nearly two hours. . . . 



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