Home to school transport July 2023 update

We asked the home to school transport team at East Sussex County Council to provide an update on areas which parent carers previously raised with us, as well as any other information which we can share with families.

The transport hub told us that overall this year there has been a lot of engagement with a number of schools to improve communication and transport arrangements, especially with regard to shared transport and suitability. The team acknowledged that communication about transport plans for those starting school and moving sites needed to be improved, and that they have been working more closely with colleagues in ISEND. For example, it has had access to the transport applications which have been arriving since March and it can respond to families directly on these types of queries (starting school and moving sites) without having to transfer the queries to SEN transport in Children’s Services.

The transport team are currently tracking who has applied or been authorised for transport and matching this up with the list of new starters which schools have provided. It is hoped that this will give schools the time needed before the end of term to help families apply for transport if they need it.

On ID badges, we were told that these are in place as well as a straightforward crew clearance process which the home to school transport team are all aware of, specifically the information which is needed before a new route can start. Schools have been monitored over the past few months and the transport team have been able to check badges on site. The plan is to continue routine monitoring visits to schools as it assists the transport team with planning and addressing any issues schools may have with traffic management and other areas.

ESPCF suggested that ID badges is an area where increased awareness is needed for families. We know that there are some families who haven’t received any information about ID badges and therefore wouldn’t be aware that they can ask to see them and be confident in knowing what information the badges should contain. The transport hub acknowledged that this was an important point and will investigate how best it can share the information next year.

On training for drivers and passenger assistants, the transport team said that the following training is now in place:

  • Emergency first aid at work – this is a qualification suitable for managing any first aid which might be required in transport
  • Safeguarding e-learning – this provides a grounding in safeguarding so that crews know which issues they should be consulting on with the local authority or reporting about and the important aspects of safeguarding which they should be aware of
  • Specific-needs training delivered by a trusted nurse practitioner, for example on epilepsy

A provider has been found for disability awareness training but there has been a delay in implementing this while the transport team compiles a brief on measuring the quality and effectiveness of the training before the contract is signed off. Staffing issues have also had an impact on this delay. It is hoped that resources will be in place so that the brief can be produced during the summer and the training can be up and running as soon as possible after that.

ESPCF previously raised with the home to school transport team the importance of familiarisation visits – where the driver and passenger assistant meet the family before starting a route – and discussed putting in place a system to ensure families who had requested a visit did not miss out. This hasn’t happened yet, and we have asked again that this be put in place. The transport hub told us that some visits are facilitated by schools, and for new routes where there is a lot of information about the young person to be shared, it has helped to do this alongside school staff.

We asked whether operators are informing the local authority via the correct processes about any changes in arrangements, for example different crew or route changes. The transport hub told us that there has been an improvement in operator notifications, evidenced by an increase in the number of emails about changes being received. In terms of families and schools requesting changes, the transport hub said that there are some improvements needed to resolve complaints about the time it takes to implement address and timetable changes. These can take a up to week to happen and the transport hub acknowledged that better communication from them to families on approval times is needed.

We’ll continue to keep parent carers posted on any new updates we receive about transport, and we’ll also request to meet with the transport team in the new academic year to follow-up on some of the issues raised above. In the meantime, please do continue to keep in touch with us about your transport experiences.