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(UK) Peterborough: 'Significant growth' in SPED kids; $13K/yr/student for transport

Nov 8, 2022, Peterborough Telegraph: Peterborough City Council endorses new school transport services for SEND children https://www.peterboroughtoday.co.uk/news/politics/council/peterborough-city-council-endorses-new-school-transport-services-for-send-children-3908426

SE England

Peterborough City Council questions whether it needs to bring transport services for SEND children in-house to keep costs down.

New plans to provide school and social transport services for eligible children with Special Education Needs and, or, a Disability (SEND) for the next three years have been tabled by Peterborough City Council.

The proposed Transport Transformation Strategy would provide for those who cannot reasonably be expected to walk to school as a result of mobility issues.

It would also provide transportation for those living beyond two miles distance if they are below the age of 8, and beyond three miles distance if aged between 8 and 16, if their parents were in receipt of the maximum level of Working Tax Credits….

The transport teams in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough currently provide transportation for journeys from home to school and for other social care needs.

But there are issues surrounding the current delivery capacity and modernisation of the ways that council’s deliver transport.

The assistant director of capital and place planning, Fran Cox introduced the scheme on November 2 at the Children & Education Strategy Committee.

She said: “At Peterborough City Council there are currently seven members of staff responsible for managing the school transport service, which caters for approximately 2,000 pupils using 233 vehicles, having a combined value of £5 million [$5.8M].

"But we’ve seen significant growth both in the mainstream and SEND population of children and this is having a significant impact on the services that we are able to deliver because of budget pressures, coupled with inflation rises associated with the cost of transportation.

“What this new Transport Transformation Strategy proposes is to explore different options for the delivery of certain transport functions where there is a high volume of routes and passengers. The market is changing, and responding to the national climate on a daily basis, there needs to be scope to ascertain best value….

“There are 42 routes that carry only one child, costing £13,000 [$15K] a year to run. Each child goes to school for 190 days, with a journey to and from school equalling 280 journeys per annum. That works out at about £34 per journey. That could get me in a black cab from Peterborough to Huntingdon.

"That’s a lot of money to get one child to school on a journey hopefully much closer than Huntingdon. How on earth can you justify that figure?”.

Ms Cox replied: “I would perhaps shock you by saying that that would be one of our cheaper routes. We have young people who need high levels of care in a specialist ambulance provision where the journeys are costing around £400 [$461] per day. There is only one of those in Peterborough, but we have eight in Cambridgeshire….

Peterborough City Council is aiming to implement a new transport strategy for SEND children over the next three years to make their journeys more cost-effective (image: Adobe)

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