Growing demand for supported SEN journey placements

By Local Democracy Reporter Ciaran Duggan

Demand for special faculty travel placements are rising to “unprecedented” ranges in Kent, it has emerged.

Around 6,250 children journey from their house to school on transport throughout 12 districts, which is organised by Kent County Council (KCC), excluding Medway.

Under this, the overwhelming majority of pupils residing with particular instructional needs rely on personal taxi and minibus providers.

There has been a rising demand for college transport, with about 750 extra mother and father requesting the KCC-led service since last year, marking an increase of 13%.

Cllr Shellina Prendergast (Con), KCC’s cabinet member for education, has described the pressure on the county council as “unprecedented”.

She stated: “The biggest financial challenge persevering with to face the council as an entire is the funding of support for particular instructional wants and disabilities (SEND).

“KCC’s new price range will seek to deal with the pressures from the rising demand of transport.”

Her feedback were made yesterday (Jan 11) during an internet debate involving KCC’s training committee.

Free and discounted college transport is offered to some youngsters with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP). Some of the costs are lined by KCC.

Hiring buses and taxis is becoming harder to rearrange for KCC due to driver shortages, rising demand from households and rising financial prices.

It comes as County Hall chiefs have laid out the authority’s draft budget proposals for April 2022 to April 2023, which is ready to doubtless quantity to more than £1 billion.

From April, KCC is pledging to spend an extra £2.5million on college transport, which may have knock-on effects for spending or cuts to different council services.

In helping to balance the books, new arrangements are being trialled, including new pick-up points and for parents to pay for the utilization of other journey schemes.

Initiatives embrace the Kent Travel Saver, which is proposed to extend in price from September 2022.

A long-term answer is being sought, which includes enrolling extra children with special needs into mainstream secondary schools and schools.

Cllr Prendergast mentioned: “In essence, we want to discover a better means of managing future demands by supporting extra kids to attend their native schools, rather than being placed in the extra specialist provision miles away from their houses.”

Former KCC cupboard member Cllr Gary Cooke (Con), of Maidstone South East, stated he “strongly” supported the move but voiced a “word of caution”.

He advised more monetary investment would wish to go into mainstream education to make the county council’s imaginative and prescient a actuality.

He mentioned: “Moving to larger inclusion in mainstream to minimize back the strain on transportation would result in better outcomes for youngsters, in the occasion that they have not received to travel thus far.

“It’s not just about cash, however higher outcomes for children as well.”

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