Home to School Travel Assistance Policy

Please find the Home to School Travel Assistance Policy for children and young people attending school.

The policy has been refreshed for 2022, since its last update in 2018. 

We have updated external link information, web addresses, contact details and clarified existing information within the policy. We have also made the application form clearer and easier to fill out. 

Policy Date: May 2022

Review Date: April 2023

Summary 

This document explains who can receive assistance with travel from home to school, how to apply for that assistance (and how to appeal if you do not receive it), what type of help may be given, and which journeys we will help with. It also explains the standards we expect to provide, how we look after your children, and how to contact us when you need to. 

When deciding when to provide travel assistance, we look at your child’s age and needs, and the school they are attending. We may speak to you, the school and other professionals to help inform that decision. We aim to let you know our decision within two weeks from the date we receive your application.  

If we decide you are not eligible for help with travel assistance, you can ask us to review that decision. The review will be made by a senior officer outside the Assisted Travel team, and a second review can be requested from an independent appeal panel. You can also appeal to the Local Government Ombudsman if you feel we have not followed our policy correctly. 

If we agree to help your child get to and from school, we will then decide what sort of help to provide. This may be help with public transport, or a payment (called a personal travel budget) to help you to take your child to school. Where appropriate we might suggest that your child receives support in the form of ‘independent travel training’ to help them to use public transport, or a companion to travel with them. It may be the provision of a minibus or car to take them to school. It may be a mix of these and this may change over time.  

We may also need to arrange an additional adult who travels with them to keep them safe while travelling, or occasionally arrange for a nurse to travel with them. 

We can only help with journeys directly between home and school so that your child can attend school, unless we have agreed something different in advance. We expect you to arrange appointments for your child outside school times, and to arrange transport to and from those for yourself. If your child is ill, or in detention, this is your responsibility. We won’t take you to and from school for meetings; we only provide transport/travel assistance for your child. 

We have high standards for travel assistance; we expect all our children to arrive at school safely, feeling comfortable and ready to learn. Where we are providing transport, we try to keep the same timings, and the same vehicles and people transporting your child, though sometimes we have to change them. If we do, we will give you as much notice as possible. When we provide assistance and your child is ill or cannot go to school, we need you to let the travel assistance provider know so that the right people know and the arrangements can be changed. 

Drivers, escorts and children are expected to be courteous and to treat each other with respect. 

Children must:

  • wear seatbelts at all times
  • not stand up or open doors whilst the vehicle is moving
  • not smoke on school transport
  • not drop litter in vehicles
  • not eat on school transport
  • only use personal stereos/radios with headphones
  • not distract the driver in any way
  • not behave in such a way as to cause risk to him or herself, any other children or adults on the vehicle or any member of the public
  • follow instructions given by the escort and/or driver

Parents and guardians will be held responsible for damage caused to vehicles by their children. In extreme cases, it may be necessary to suspend or withdraw transport because of behaviour. In such cases, you would be expected to make your own arrangements to get your child to and from school.

If something is wrong with the service, please tell us. You can phone, email or write to us. Our contact details are at the end of the policy

Contents 

1 Introduction

2 Eligibility

  • Children of pre-school age

  • Children of pre-school age with special educational needs or disabilities

  • Children and young people of compulsory school age

  • Children and young people of compulsory school age with special educational needs or disabilities

  • Post-16 Students

  • Children and young people with short term difficulties

3 The application process

4 The Decision Review process

  • Stage One

  • Stage Two

  • The Local Government Ombudsman

5 Travel Assistance Options

  • The TfL Zip Oyster card

  • Independent travel training

  • Request for ITT

  • Independent Travel Training Pilot (Nov 2021 to June 2022)

  • Personal Travel Budget or mileage allowance

  • Walking companion

  • Shared vehicles

  • Taxi/private hire vehicle

  • Passenger assistants

6 Provision of Travel Assistance

  • Pick up and Drop off arrangements

  • Absence from school

  • Place of Safety

  • Severe weather

  • Medication on transport

7 Service Standards

  • Vehicles

  • Drivers

  • Drivers contracted by the London Borough of Sutton

  • Passenger Assistants

  • Passenger Assistants contracted by the London Borough of Sutton

  • Continuity of staff

  • Journey times

  • Quality surveys

8 Safeguarding

  • Local Authority Designated Officer

9 Comments, compliments and complaints

10 Contact Information

1. Introduction 

1.1 This policy outlines the assistance that the London Borough of Sutton will make available to provide for children of compulsory school age to attend school. 

1.2For reference, children must start full-time education once they reach compulsory school age. Compulsory school age starts on 31 December, 31 March or 31 August following a child’s fifth birthday - whichever comes first. If a child’s fifth birthday is on one of those dates then they reach compulsory school age on that date. 

1.3 Children must stay in full-time education until they reach school leaving age: if a child is going to be 16 by the end of the summer holidays, the school leaving date is the last Friday in the June of that year.

1.4 This policy sets out for parents and carers the criteria for eligibility, how to apply for assistance with travel, how decisions are made, what assistance may be offered, and how to appeal against decisions that they believe do not comply with this policy. 

1.5 In general terms, it is the responsibility of the parent or carer to ensure that their child attends school regularly, under section 444 of the Education Act 1996 (as amended by the Education and Inspections Act 2006). This includes arranging necessary travel to and from the school and/or accompanying their child as necessary. No special consideration is given for parents or carers who are working or who have children travelling to several schools at the same time. In both cases, parents or carers are expected to make other suitable arrangements for someone else to accompany their child. 

1.6 Under the Education Act 1996 (as amended), local authorities have a duty in certain circumstances to make such travel arrangements as they consider necessary in order to ensure that suitable home to school travel arrangements are made for the purpose of facilitating a child’s attendance at relevant educational establishments for children of compulsory school age. 

2. Eligibility 

2.1 This policy applies to children and young people who are resident in the London Borough of Sutton (or who are Looked After Children by the London Borough of Sutton). 

Children of pre-school age

2.2 There is no statutory requirement on local authorities to provide travel assistance for children under compulsory school age. Parents or carers are expected to take their own children to pre-school provision, and children of pre-school age will not be provided with travel assistance other than in exceptional circumstances. 

Children of pre-school age with special educational needs or disabilities

2.3 It is expected that any pre-school child, whether they have special educational needs and/ or disabilities or not, will be transported by a parent or carer, unless there are exceptional circumstances such that it would not be reasonable to expect parents or carers to do so. 

2.4 Travel assistance applications will be considered for children below statutory school age where the child has an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP). In applying this exemption, the London Borough of Sutton must be satisfied that, without such assistance, the child would be prevented from attending an appropriate nursery or early years’ education placement. Decisions in relation to this are taken at our discretion.

2.5 When considering applications for pre-school children, particular attention will be paid to the following: 

  • The age of the child; 

  • The distance between home and nursery; 

  • The special educational needs or disabilities of the child; 

  • The reasons for the pre-school education placement; and 

  • Whether the child has other siblings of an age where it is not reasonable to expect them to travel alone, who attend school(s) a significant distance away from the provision proposed for the child. 

Children and young people of compulsory school age

2.6 The legal responsibility for ensuring children and young people receive education rests with their parents or carers. Generally, parents and carers are expected to make their own arrangements for ensuring children and young people travel to and from school to guarantee that they attend school regularly. 

2.7 Children and young people aged up to 18 can get free and discounted travel in London, depending on the mode of transport.  There are different fares for different age ranges and parents / carers will need to apply for an Oyster photocard if their child is 5 or above. Further information is available from the Transport for London (TfL) website (external link). 

2.8 The London Borough of Sutton expects pupils to make use of the free travel available and applications for this should be made directly to TfL

2.9 Local authorities have a statutory duty to provide free transport/travel assistance to all pupils who meet the statutory walking distances eligibility criteria set out in the government home to school travel and transport guidance.

  • If a child is under 8 years of age and lives over two miles from school; or 

  • If a child is aged between 8 and 16 years and lives over three miles from school.  

View the government publication on home to school travel guidance (external link). 

2.10 In both cases, the pupil must be attending the nearest suitable school. This is defined as a school which has places available and that the local authority deems to provide education appropriate to the age, aptitude and ability of the pupil and any special educational needs or disabilities he or she may have. 

 2.11 In addition, for pupils who are entitled to free school meals or whose parents or carers are in receipt of maximum Working Tax Credit, free travel assistance will be provided, if: 

  • The nearest suitable school is beyond two miles (for children over the age of 8 and under 11); 

  • The school is between two and six miles (for children aged 11-16 where there are not three or more suitable nearer schools); 

  • The school is between two and 15 miles and is the nearest school preferred on the grounds of religion or belief (for children aged 11-16). 

Check eligibility for free school meals (external site). 

2.12 ‘Maximum Working Tax Credit’ is defined as follows: when a customer is first awarded tax credits, or following a change in their household circumstances, HM Revenue and Customs may issue a “tax credit awards notice” detailing the breakdown and amount of the award. Part two of the award notice gives details of “How we work out your tax credits” including details of the full WTC elements. This is the maximum amount a customer can receive in WTC in any year. It then lists “any reduction due to your income” and shows the net amount payable. In order to qualify this amount must be £0.00.

2.13 Local authorities are also required to make transport / travel assistance arrangements for all pupils who cannot reasonably be expected to walk to their nearest suitable school because the nature of the route is deemed inappropriate. 

2.14 For the majority of children and young people, the free travel available through Transport for London’s Zip Oyster card will be considered to be sufficient to meet the local authority’s obligation. 

Children and young people of compulsory school age with special educational needs or disabilities 

2.15The local authority must make travel assistance arrangements for those children who cannot be reasonably expected to walk to school because of their special educational needs, their disabilities, or health and safety issues related to these needs and disabilities.

2.16 There is no blanket requirement for all children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities to be provided with assistance. Eligibility for travel assistance for these children and young people will be assessed on an individual basis to identify their specific transport needs

2.17 In such cases, transport requirements such as the statutory walking distances do not apply and will not be considered when assessing their transport needs. 

Post-16 Students 

2.18 Local authorities also have a duty to facilitate access to full-time education for young people aged 16-19 and this may include assistance with travel in certain circumstances. Details of the support available to those over the age of 16 are found in the Post-16 Policy on the Local Offer website.

Children and young people with short term difficulties

2.19 Pupils who do not otherwise receive assistance with travel, but who have a short term illness or health difficulty may be eligible for assistance to and from school for a limited period.

2.20 Pupils who receive assistance with travel whose circumstances have changed because of a short term illness or health difficulty may require a change to the type of assistance offered. 

3. The application process 

3.1 Assistance is provided on the basis of assessed need. Only where a child or young person is assessed as meeting the eligibility criteria set out in this policy will he or she be entitled to assistance with home to school travel. There is no entitlement for assistance with travel before an application has been received and assessed. 

3.2 When assessing entitlement for travel assistance for pupils with Special Educational Needs or Disabilities, the Assisted Travel Manager will consider the individual needs of each child. This may include taking professional advice from SEND Coordinators, Educational Psychologists, Social Workers, medical officers and teachers and consulting with parents and carers before arriving at a final decision. 

3.3 Consideration will also be given to the pupil’s physical and medical requirements including any disabilities they may have. Assessment may include face-to-face contact with the pupil.  

3.4 The following factors will be considered when assessing transport entitlement: 

  • The age of the pupil; 

  • The distance between the pupil’s home and the nearest suitable school; 

  • Whether the walking route would be appropriate for the pupil, either unaccompanied or accompanied; 

  • The Special Educational Needs or Disabilities of the pupil; 

  • The type of school provision being made for the pupil;

  • Whether the pupil has physical, medical, or communication difficulties that would prevent them from safely using public transport; 

  • Whether suitable and accessible public transport is available; 

  • Whether the pupil may be vulnerable and at risk of danger if they use public or other transport 

  • Whether the pupil would be a danger to other passengers, drivers or the vehicle, if they use public or other transport; 

  • The efficient use of resources; 

3.5 The above list is for guidance only. It is not exhaustive, and each case will be reviewed on its individual merits. 

3.6 Satisfaction of one or more of the criteria does not automatically allow entitlement to travel assistance. Attendance at a Special School does not automatically entitle a pupil to travel assistance, nor does a pupil having an Education, Health and Care Plan. 

3.7 Eligibility for travel assistance is primarily determined according to the pupil’s needs. Other family circumstances, such as parents and carers attending work or looking after other children, cannot be considered when determining eligibility. 

3.8 In order for a child or young person’s entitlement for travel assistance to be assessed, parents or carers must complete the application form accessed via the Cognus website. Find the travel assistance application (external link). The completed form may be returned in paper or electronic format to the address on the final page of the application. 

3.9 Once the completed form has been received, parents or carers will be advised in writing of the Local Authority’s decision. This is typically within 10 working days from receipt, but may be longer if it is necessary to allow time to take professional advice or consult with parents or carers. 

3.10 If assistance with travel is agreed, it is the responsibility of the London Borough of Sutton to allocate travel assistance which is suitable and appropriate for the needs of the child or young person. The options typically offered are described in section 5, below.

3.11 The most suitable form of travel assistance will usually be implemented within 10 working days following the decision to agree assistance. If a parent or carer does not accept the travel assistance offered, this can be challenged through the Decision Review Process, outlined in section 4, below. While the review is being undertaken, the parent or carer remains responsible for their child’s journey to school. 

3.12 In general, assistance will be agreed for the current academic year only. When an application is received during the summer term, a decision will be made for the current term and for the following academic year, so long as the student is continuing at the same school.  

3.13 Parents or carers must re-apply for assistance each year during the Summer term (April to July) to allow for review of a child or young person’s eligibility for assistance, and the type of assistance that is required. For example, a pupil may no longer require a passenger assistant or may be ready to start independent travel training. If parents / carers do not re-apply, we will assume that travel assistance is no longer required. 

31.4 Any changes in circumstances may also result in a change in eligibility for travel assistance (for example, a child’s special educational needs and / or disabilities may have changed, or parents may have moved house). 

3.15 If changes take place at any time of the year (e.g. change of placement or home address), travel assistance provision will be reviewed in accordance with the normal criteria. Assistance will not be provided solely because a house move has taken the child beyond distance limits for their current school. 

3.16 It should be noted that if a child is currently eligible for assistance, this is no guarantee that they will continue to be eligible in the future. The London Borough of Sutton reserves the right to review travel requirements outside the annual application process in order to safeguard its duty to ensure the efficient use of resources. 

4. The Decision Review process 

4.1 If the London Borough of Sutton considers that travel assistance should not be provided, the pupil’s parents or carers will be advised of the decision. This is typically within 10 working days from receipt of the application, but may be longer if it was necessary to allow time to take professional advice or consult with parents or carers.

4.2 The London Borough of Sutton has a two stage home to school travel assistance review process for parents who wish to challenge a decision about: 

  • Their child’s eligibility; 

  • The type of assistance arrangements offered; 

  • The distance measurement; 

  • The safety of the proposed route. 

4.3 During a review regarding the outcome of an initial application, travel assistance will not be provided to the pupil. Where the review concerns a change to assistance arrangements for a child who has previously been assessed as eligible for the same journey, the previously agreed travel arrangements will continue. 

Stage One 

4.4 A parent has 20 working days from receipt of the London Borough of Sutton’s home to school travel assistance decision to make a written request asking for a review of the decision.

4.5 The written request should detail why the parent believes the decision should be reviewed 

4.6 Within 5 working days of receiving the request to review, the London Borough of Sutton will acknowledge the receipt of the request and confirm the expected timescale for review and response. 

4.7 Within 20 working days of receipt of the written request, a senior officer will review the original decision and send the parent a detailed written outcome setting out the nature of the decision reached, detailed reasoning for how the decision was reached, and information about escalation to stage two if appropriate. 

Stage Two

4.8 A parent has 20 working days from receipt of the London Borough of Sutton’s stage one decision to make a written request to escalate the matter to stage two. 

4.9 Within 5 working days of receiving the request to review, the London Borough of Sutton will acknowledge the receipt of the request and confirm the expected timescale for review and response. 

4.10 Within 40 working days an independent appeal panel will consider written and verbal representations from the parent and officers and will review the original decision. They will send the parent a detailed written outcome setting out the nature of the decision reached, detailed reasoning for how the decision was reached, and information about escalation to the Local Government Ombudsman if appropriate. 

4.11 The independent appeal panel members will be independent of the process to date, and suitably experienced to ensure a balance is achieved between meeting the needs of parents and the London Borough of Sutton, and that road safety requirements are complied with. 

The Local Government Ombudsman 

4.12 There is a right of complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman if complainants consider that there was a failure to comply with the procedural rules or if there are any other irregularities in the way the appeal has been handled. 

5. Travel Assistance Options 

5.1 It is important to offer a range of options, based on the identified needs of the child or young person. The options will also take account of the London Borough of Sutton’s duty to make best use of public resources.  The options are:

  • The TfL Zip Oyster card 

  • Independent travel training 

  • Personal Travel Budget or mileage allowance

  • Walking companion

  • Shared vehicles

  • Taxi / private hire vehicle

  • Passenger assistants

The TfL Zip Oyster card

5.2 For many young people, the free travel within London offered by the Zip Oyster photocard is a suitable option. There are different schemes for different age ranges and the parent / carer will need to apply for a Zip Oyster photocard if their child is 5 or above. Further information on the Zip Oyster photocard is available from the Transport for London (TfL) website (external link). 

Independent travel training 

5.3 Independent travel training (ITT) is an important life skill and is shown to have a positive effect on young people's independence. Learning to travel safely supports young people to access employment opportunities and participate in social and educational activities which in turn helps them build their own lives and maintain relationships with peers. Through working closely with parents and carers, the child or young person and the school, the aims of ITT are to increase confidence, independence and choices for young people.  Because of the positive outcomes, travel training will be given priority as an option when considering suitable solutions. 

5.4 An expert team of travel trainers train students and adults on a one-to-one basis to travel to their place of learning independently. A trainer will go with the trainee on their journey, giving encouragement and guidance until they develop the skills to travel on their own.

5.5 A trainer will create a training plan for the trainee that meets their needs. This will take into account suitable routes. They will then visit parents / carers and the child / young person at home to talk through the plan and make sure everyone agrees with it. Parent / carer consent will always be requested before training starts.

5.6 An individualised travel training programme includes:

  • one-to-one personalised travel trainer support

  • journey planning

  • road and personal safety skills

  • time management

  • emergency strategies

  • stranger awareness

  • travel technology awareness

5.7 Criteria for successful completion of the training are based on an agreed rigorous training programme and assessment process undertaken by a qualified Travel Trainer.  A copy of the final assessment will be provided to parents and carers. Successful completion of independent travel training will be signed-off by the young person, the family and the Assisted Travel Team. 

5.8 Successful completion of ITT will usually result in the young person being able to travel to their place of learning independently and without the need for support from the Local Authority. This is a great way to achieve one of the Preparation for Adulthood outcomes for a young person. 

Requests for ITT

5.9 Requests can be made by completing the referral form and sending it to the Cognus Assisted Travel Team (SEN.Transport@cognus.org.uk). Find the referral form.  More information on our current ITT offer can be found on our Local Offer website.

Independent Travel Training Pilot (Nov 2021 to June 2022)

5.10 To develop the ‘offer’ further, the London Borough of Sutton invited schools and colleges to take part in a pilot to offer independent travel training to pupils in Sutton, so that it could be delivered by staff who know the children and young people best. Nominated staff have completed their training and the programme is now being delivered within some education settings. Upon completion of the pilot an evaluation of the pilot will take place and consideration will be given to how our ITT offer can be enhanced.

Personal Travel Budget or mileage allowance 

5.11 This is a sum of money paid directly to parents and carers to enable them to make travel arrangements for their child. The amount that parents and carers receive will be based on the distance travelled from home to school and the child or young person’s needs. Payments will be made half-termly in advance. The personal travel budget is not taxed and does not affect any other benefits that parents and carers receive; the only requirement is that children attend school regularly and on time. A personal travel budget can be refused or withdrawn if these conditions are not met.  

5.12 A personal travel budget is funded at £0.45 per mile, paid in six equal instalments across the year. The distance funded is calculated for the round trip, to take the pupil to school and the parent to then return home. 

Example: 

Distance from home to school 3.0 miles 

Distance funded per day 2 round trips = 12.0 miles 

Annual funding 190 days x 12.0 miles @ £0.45 /mile = £1,026 per year 

Walking companion 

5.13 If a child or young person is able to walk to school accompanied, and the Local Authority accepts that it would be unreasonable for the family to provide this accompaniment, it may be possible to provide a walking companion for the child or young person.  

Shared vehicles 

5.14 Where assessed as necessary, the London Borough of Sutton may provide a vehicle to transport a child or young person to and from school. Where transport vehicles are provided, they will be provided by a suitably qualified, registered commercial provider working to contractual standards set by the Council. 

5.15 Whenever possible, children will travel together in buses and other shared vehicles, suitable for the needs of those travelling on them. Each route will be planned on the basis of school start and finish times. Most vehicles run closely to time and are required to transport several children. The pick-up and drop-off times reflect the required timings to give the shortest possible route for all children travelling on a particular vehicle. Small changes at one point may make the journey excessively long or otherwise unreasonable for other children. We are unable to arrange times specifically to suit parental preferences

5.16 The London Borough of Sutton currently offers both a ‘home to school service’ for children and young people in receipt of vehicle transport as well as using appropriate safe and convenient ‘collection points’ at reasonable distances to and from family homes. The home to school service will only be agreed where it is deemed essential due to the child or young person’s particular needs. This will normally be on the basis of one pick up point / address and one drop off point / address per day. 

Taxi / private hire vehicle 

5.17 Under some circumstances, the London Borough of Sutton may provide travel assistance in the form of taxis or private hire vehicles based on the assessed needs of the child or young person. Arrangements of this kind will be kept under regular review and, where possible, the opportunity will be taken to move to an alternative and suitable form of travel assistance. 

Passenger assistants 

5.18 A Passenger Assistant (PA) is a person who accompanies students on a route to ensure their safety and the safety of the vehicle.  

5.19 In some circumstances, a PA may be provided to accompany pupils to school on transport provided by the local authority. PAs will only be provided where they are necessary for the safe operation of vehicles or the care of children or young people. A PA will not be provided simply because of the child’s age or because he or she does not know the driver.  

5.20 PAs are provided for all buses and coaches used to transport children with special educational needs. 

5.21 Children transported by other vehicles will normally only be provided with a PA in the following circumstances: 

  • Where a pupil is under the age of seven years and is transported to out of borough provision; 

  • Where the child’s lead medical professional confirms that a passenger assistant is required on medical grounds, and a health care plan is provided;  

  • Where a child has a behaviour, learning or communication difficulty which is such that there is evidence to indicate that their safety or the safety of other passengers could be compromised without provision of a Passenger Assistant. 

5.22 Provision of a PA at any one time does not guarantee that this will be an ongoing arrangement and the requirement for a PA will be reviewed at least annually, or more frequently in the event of a change in circumstance. 

5.23 If a parent / carer is concerned that their child may find travelling without the parent / carer upsetting, it may be possible for the parent / carer to travel with the child on the first day when he or she meets the driver. If this is the case, the parent / carer should contact the Cognus Assisted Travel Team. Contact details are given in Section 10. 

6. Provision of Travel Assistance 

6.1 For children attending school on a daily basis, travel assistance will only be provided for the beginning and end of the school day. 

6.2 For children attending school on a weekly boarding basis, travel assistance will be provided at the beginning and end of the school week, and before and after other periods of closure only. 

6.3 For children boarding on a termly placement where the school is not closed at weekends, travel assistance will be limited to the start and end of the school term, half terms and for periods of whole school closure only. 

6.4 Where a child attends planned respite provision, we can arrange for travel assistance to collect or return the student to the respite provision. This should be arranged as soon as dates are known, to minimise disruption to other students. 

6.5 Any other journeys required will be the responsibility of parents or carers. Examples of these are:

  • Breakfast and After School clubs; travel assistance will not normally be provided to enable students to attend such clubs, which do not form part of the National Curriculum, unless this travel assistance can be provided at no additional cost to the Local Authority; 

  • Attendance at annual reviews or parental meetings; travel assistance will not be provided to allow parents to attend such meetings. This is a parental responsibility; 

  • School trips; schools must notify the Local Authority of any changes to curriculum times to allow for adjustments to be made. Where additional costs are incurred by the Local Authority, such costs must be reimbursed by the school; 

  • Examinations; home to school travel assistance timings may be adjusted to enable early departure from school when students are undertaking national examinations. However, to avoid unnecessary additional costs it is expected that such journeys will be coordinated and schools may be asked to retain students for reasonable periods at school after examinations to enable this; 

  • Work experience; travel assistance will not normally be provided to allow students to attend work experience; 

  • Induction days / observation days / taster days; travel assistance may be made available to allow students to attend Induction (or similar) days at special schools, resourced provision or independent schools which the Local Authority is considering naming in the child or young person’s EHCP; 

  • Curriculum appointments; travel assistance will not be provided to allow parents to attend such meetings. This is a parental responsibility; 

  • Doctors, dental or hospital appointments; travel assistance times will not be adjusted to allow students to attend such appointments. This is a parental responsibility;

  • Clinical, psychiatric or therapy appointments; travel assistance times will not be adjusted to allow students to attend such appointments. This is a parental responsibility; 

  • Illness; travel assistance will not normally be provided to collect children who are ill at school. This is a parental responsibility; 

  • Detention; travel assistance will not be provided to take children home after detentions. This is a parental responsibility; 

  • Any other similar circumstance. 

In these circumstances, it is the parents’ or carers’ responsibility to arrange transport. 

Pick up and Drop off arrangements 

6.6 Transport providers are authorised to make pick-ups and drop-offs at authorised points only. The authorised points will be those specified on the parental agreement letter (normally the home and school address, or in the case of bus journeys, an allocated bus stop). 

6.7 Transport staff will assist a child or young person to board a vehicle by steadying them, but cannot lift a child or young person into the vehicle. If a child or young person cannot board without such assistance, consideration must be given to whether they would be more able to travel in a crash-tested wheelchair or similar. It is unlikely that a parent would be allowed to lift a child or young person into the vehicle as most schools also operate a ‘no lifting’ policy which would cause the passenger to be unable to exit the vehicle, or to board for the return journey. 

6.8 All children and young people must be handed over to a responsible adult at the authorised point. Drivers and Passenger Assistants are not permitted to leave children and young people with any person under the age of 16, or any person who is not an ‘authorised’ adult. Parents and carers are expected to bring their child to the vehicle/drop-off point (whichever is applicable) in the morning and collect from the vehicle/drop-off point in the afternoon.

6.9 Where pupils are picked up or dropped-off at home, the parent or carer is responsible for accompanying the pupil to and from their door to the vehicle. The parent or carer should keep a lookout for the vehicle’s arrival since the vehicle will not sound its horn. It is against the law to sound a horn from a stationary vehicle except when another road user poses a danger. In exceptional circumstances (for example, where the child travels alone in a taxi with a passenger assistant) the passenger assistant may call at the door or telephone ahead, although this is at the discretion of the transport crew. Any variation to the usual procedure must be agreed with the controller.  

6.10 Parents and carers must ensure that there are no delays in making pupils available for the journey (or collecting them in the evenings) as this is one of the main factors affecting total journey times and can have a detrimental effect on how other passengers manage the remainder of their journey. 

6.11 Parents are asked on the application form to provide two alternative addresses, to be used in the event they are unable to be present to meet their child. Any changes to these addresses, whether permanent or temporary, must be communicated in writing to the London Borough of Sutton’s Assisted Travel team who will make the necessary arrangements. Until such communication is received, the only other authorised place will be the nearest place of safety; see below for details. 

Absence from school 

6.12 Where a child cannot attend school on any particular day, for example due to illness, it is the parent’s or carer’s responsibility to contact the passenger assistant or transport company immediately. For long term absences, parents / carers should contact the Assisted Travel Team. 

6.13 If a child is transported to school, parents should contact their respective transport company the night before travel if they know that their child will be absent from school the following day, or as early as possible on the morning of travel if their child only shows signs of being ill on the day they are due to travel. 

6.14 All transport which is not cancelled in advance of the vehicle arriving at the home address must be paid for by the London Borough of Sutton whether or not the pupil boards the vehicle. Where parents repeatedly fail to cancel the provision for their child as a result of the child’s illness before it arrives at the home address, or where a child decides not to travel in transport which has arrived on any given day, without any prior notice having been given to the transport company, the child’s transport provision will be reviewed and may be removed. 

6.15 If it can be established that public funds are being used inappropriately, as a result of vehicles not being cancelled with enough prior warning, children may be excluded from transport for a period of time. Parents will be responsible for transporting their own children during any period of exclusion from transport. 

Place of Safety 

6.16 In the event that a parent or carer is unable to meet the child at the specified drop off point at the agreed time, transport providers are instructed to take children to the nearest place of safety. Currently, these places of safety are: 

The Grange Play Centre (for children aged under 13), 

Beddington Park 

London Road

Wallington

SM6 7DT

Tel: 020 8770 4300, 07736 338 532 or 07522 219747

Opening hours: Monday - Friday 2pm - 6pm

and:

Sutton Family Centre (for children and young people of all ages)

Sutton West Centre

Robin Hood Lane

Sutton

SM1 2SD

Telephone: 020 8770 5739

Opening hours: Monday - Friday, 8.30am - 5.30pm

Outside these hours, if the transport provider is unable to contact the parent/s or secondary contact, the transport provider must contact the Sutton Children’s Social Care Emergency Duty Team (out of hours service) on 020 8770 5000. 

6.17 Parents, schools and the transport providers will receive instructions from the London Borough of Sutton on what to do if the transport provider has to drop the child off at a place of safety. Transport assistance may be withdrawn if this happens frequently. Parents or schools should contact the Transport Team if there are any emergency changes.  

Severe weather 

6.18 Overall responsibility for the safe running of the transport service rests with the Assisted Travel Manager. However, it is expected that each transport provider and each school or college will assess local conditions and make decisions based on those conditions and their knowledge of the passengers involved. 

6.19 Where schools inform the Transport Team that the school will be closed, transport to that school will be cancelled. For Sutton schools, and those in many other Local Authorities, the school’s status can be checked online. Check a school's status (external link).  

6.20 In cases of severe weather, where parents and carers are advised that transport has been cancelled for their child’s morning journey, they should assume that transport will also be cancelled for their child’s afternoon journey, unless they are advised otherwise. If parents or carers decide to take their child to school despite the severe weather, they will also need to arrange to collect their child after school. 

Medication on transport

6.21 As part of the service, we require that every driver and passenger assistant is able to respond to an emergency situation. Although there is no statutory duty for transport staff to administer medication, they are expected to ensure the health and safety of all pupils in their care. First-aid training includes: managing the symptoms of shock; dealing with an unconscious casualty; cardiac arrest and cardiopulmonary resuscitation; choking; and seizures.

6.22 If there is a medical or mental health emergency on a vehicle, when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk, the passenger assistant or driver should call 999. The call handler will decide whether an ambulance is appropriate. It may be safe enough for the patient to be seen elsewhere, or the staff can be given telephone advice by a medically trained clinical adviser. An ambulance will be sent if it's a life-threatening emergency.

6.23 Members of transport staff are not generally permitted to carry or administer medication or to replace medical accessories (for example, gastrostomy or tracheostomy tubes) on board a vehicle. Where it is assessed to be unsafe for a pupil with complex or acute medical needs to travel with only a passenger assistant, the London Borough of Sutton will seek to provide a medically-trained professional, such as a nurse, to accompany the pupil on the vehicle. A risk assessment will be undertaken to ensure the correct level of medical support can be arranged. 

7. Service Standards 

Vehicles 

7.1 All vehicles are provided by contractors under contract to the London Borough of Sutton. 

  • All transport will be provided in accordance with contractual standards and legislation; 

  • All vehicles will be properly licensed in accordance with local regulation and national legislation; 

  • The Assisted Travel Team will conduct regular monitoring of quality and service standards on all vehicles operated by its contractors; 

  • Vehicles will have specialist wheelchair access and wheelchair restraint systems where necessary; 

  • All vehicles will be roadworthy, clean inside and out, fitted with seat belts and carry emergency equipment (for example, fire extinguisher and first aid kit) and any other equipment or notices required by law. 

Drivers

7.2 Drivers contracted by the London Borough of Sutton:

  • Drivers must carry and display suitable identification at all times; 

  • Drivers must have enhanced DBS clearance; 

  • Drivers have completed safeguarding training; 

  • Drivers are provided with certified first-aid training; 

  • Drivers must, as far as possible, be punctual;

  • Drivers must treat parents/carers and children with respect and avoid confrontations. It is also expected that parents/carers will treat our drivers with respect and consideration; 

  • Drivers must adhere to the Council’s no smoking policy; 

  • If the driver has a concern for any child in their care, they must report their concern to their supervisor, who will inform the Transport Team; 

  • Drivers must report any poor behaviour of passengers to their supervisor to relay onto the Transport Team, and to the school and parent as necessary; 

  • Drivers must ensure that all wheelchairs are securely clamped, all passenger harnesses are worn and safety straps are properly adjusted and fitted securely before the journey commences; 

  • The driver is to stop as close to the home address or collection point as traffic conditions will safely permit; 

  • The driver is not allowed to sound the vehicle’s horn to alert parents or carers that the vehicle is there; 

  • Drivers are not authorised to leave a child with anyone other than their parent or carer or a named responsible adult (16+) identified in writing in advance by the parent or carer to the Transport Team; 

  • Drivers have strict instructions not to enter into any personal arrangements with parents/carers, including changing pick up or drop off points without consulting the Transport Team; 

  • Every effort will be made to ensure the same driver is used on a regular basis. This may not always be possible due to illness, holidays, retirement and staff resignations. Changes may also be necessary from time to time to ensure the efficient use of resources. 

Passenger Assistants

7.3 Passenger Assistants contracted by the London Borough of Sutton:

  • Passenger Assistants must carry and display suitable identification at all times; 

  • Passenger Assistants must have enhanced DBS clearance; 

  • Passenger Assistants have completed safeguarding training; 

  • Passenger Assistants are provided with certified first-aid training; 

  • Passenger Assistants must treat parents/carers and children with respect and avoid confrontations. It is also expected that parents/carers will treat our Passenger Assistants with respect and consideration; 

  • Passenger Assistants must adhere to the Council’s no smoking policy; 

  • If the Passenger Assistant has a concern for any child in their care, they must report their concern to their supervisor, who will inform the Transport Team; 

  • Passenger Assistants must report any poor behaviour of passengers to their supervisor to relay onto the Transport Team, and to the school and parent as necessary;

  • The Passenger Assistant should assist children on and off the vehicle and ensure they are seated safely while the vehicle is moving; 

  • Passenger Assistants should deliver children to a member of school staff on arrival at the school so that at no time are children left unattended on the vehicle; 

  • Passenger Assistants are not authorised to leave a child with anyone other than their parent or carer or a named responsible adult (16+) identified in writing in advance by the parent or carer to the Transport Team; 

  • Passenger Assistants have strict instructions not to enter into any personal arrangements with parents/carers, including changing pick up or drop off points without consulting the Transport Team; 

  • Every effort will be made to ensure the same Passenger Assistant is used on a regular basis. This may not always be possible due to illness, holidays, retirement and staff resignations. Changes may also be necessary from time to time to ensure the efficient use of resources. 

Continuity of staff

7.4 Every effort will be made to ensure that the same passenger assistant and driver continue to transport a pupil; however this will not always be possible and changes may need to be made due to illness, holidays, retirement and staff resignations, or to ensure the most efficient use of available resources. 

7.5 Parents, carers and schools will be informed by the transport company about any changes to the crew member(s) in advance. Parents and carers are advised to take the name of the new driver and/or passenger assistant, and ask to see their identification, or contact the transport provider to verify identity if they are in any doubt. 

7.6 Local authorities have a duty to spend public funds in the most appropriate and cost-effective manner. Routes will be reviewed regularly. Separate routes, taking pupils to several different schools, may be brought together into a single route where this is appropriate. Longer routes will be reviewed periodically with the respective schools to ensure that concentration and attentiveness are not compromised by any change to pupils’ journeys. 

Journey times 

7.7 The nature of transport congestion in the borough means that travelling times can vary greatly. The London Borough of Sutton, in accordance with DfE guidelines, expects that children should arrive at school safely and fit to learn, and journey times should reflect this. The maximum journey time for SEN transport has been set at 1 hour 15 minutes, although this may be affected from time-to-time by traffic, road works and other environmental and operational conditions.

7.8 These times may not apply to children travelling to out of borough schools, where distances and frequency of journeys vary. 

7.9 Any ongoing delays due to major roadworks or weather will be taken into account and where possible alternative routes will be provided. In this situation parents and schools will be notified accordingly. 

Quality surveys 

7.10 Surveys are sent to a random selection of schools each term to assess and ensure the quality of service. Questions are asked regarding the punctuality of the service, the perceived safety of passengers, the crew’s understanding, empathy and communication with their passengers, and the readiness of students to learn after they have arrived at school. 

7.11 Surveys are also sent to a random selection of families each term to assess and ensure the quality of service. Questions are asked regarding the punctuality of the service, the perceived safety of passengers, the crew’s understanding, empathy and communication with their passengers, and their politeness. Parents are also asked for their comments, and their child’s comments if appropriate.

7.12 The survey responses are shared with contractors, and used to improve the quality of the service that we provide. 

8. Safeguarding 

8.1 The London Borough of Sutton is committed to ensuring that children and young people on transport travel safely to school and arrive ready to learn. The following safeguarding systems are in place to protect children’s safety and promote their wellbeing: 

  • There are regular authorised crews on all routes; 

  • Crew members have valid DBS certificates and appropriate licences; 

  • Crew members have completed safeguarding training; 

  • Crew members are provided with certified first-aid training; 

  • Child-seating is provided for young people below 135 cm in height; 

  • Non-ambulant buggy or wheelchair users undergo a wheelchair risk assessment to verify that their buggy or wheelchair has been crash-tested for use on transport and to ensure that the correct safety equipment is used to secure the buggy or wheelchair in place; 

  • All incidents on board transport are logged and investigated; 

  • Safeguarding concerns or allegations about a transport crew member are referred to the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO);

  • Crew members are provided with a procedure in circumstances where parents or carers are not available at their home address at the end of the school day, or have requested an agreed alternative destination; 

  • Taxi routes are audited on a regular basis and checked for compliance against the service specification, including compliance with safeguarding procedures. 

Local Authority Designated Officer

8.2 Statutory guidance and procedures state that every Council has a duty to manage allegations and concerns about any person who works with children and young people in their area. This includes Council staff, staff employed by partner agencies and volunteers. The London Borough of Sutton complies with this duty by appointing a LADO (Local Authority Designated Officer). 

8.3 The LADO is responsible for investigating and co-ordinating child protection allegations made against staff and volunteers who work with children.

8.4 Referrals to the LADO will usually be made by a designated senior manager, within one working day of being made aware of the allegation. For the Transport Team, the designated manager is the Transport Manager, though any team member may refer if necessary. 

8.5 Concerns should be referred to the LADO by contacting 020 8770 4776 (or via the Out of Hours service on 020 8770 5000) or by email: lado@sutton.gov.uk 

9. Comments, compliments and complaints 

9.1 The London Borough of Sutton constantly strives to improve the Assisted Travel Service and welcomes comments from parents, carers, pupils and school staff on any issue relating to the service. 

9.2 Comments or concerns about operational issues should be addressed to the relevant bus or taxi provider in the first instance. In the event that the provider cannot resolve the concern, the issue should be escalated to the Cognus SEND Transport Team for resolution. 

9.3 Formal complaints will be managed in line with the Council’s complaints procedures. View the Council's complaints procedures.  

10. Contact Information 

10.1 Travel assistance is arranged and managed by Cognus Limited on behalf of the Local Authority. 

10.2 Contact details for the Travel Assistance Team are as follows: 

Travel Assistance Team

Cognus Limited 

First Floor, Cantium House

Railway Approach

Wallington

SM6 0DZ

Tel: (020) 8323 0460 (a voicemail system operates out of office hours) 

Email: assistedtravelteam@cognus.org.uk

  • Version: 1.0. Date: 03/04/2018. Amended by Colin Hargreen
  • Version 1.1 Date: 01/09/2018 . Amended by Colin Hargreen. Notes: Updated address.
  • Version 1.2 Date: 12/02/2019. Amended by Colin Hargreen. Notes: Updated Sutton logo
  • Version 1.3. Date: 21/04/2022. Amended by Kieran Holliday. Note: Updated external link information, web addresses, contact details and clarified existing information.

More information

If you have questions regarding eligibility, please contact the Assisted Travel Service Manager on 020 8323 0460, by email to SEN.Transport@cognus.org.uk, or by post to the Assisted Travel team, Cognus Limited, Cantium House, Railway Approach,  Wallington SM6 0DZ5.

For all other queries, please contact the Assisted Travel team on 020 8323 0460 or by post at the address above.

Read Frequently Asked Questions related to Assisted Transport

 View the Application form (external link). 

View Independent Travel Training: A Parent’s Guide (PDF, 1.08MB)

 

17/05/2022


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