Home-to-school transport - September 2020 update

Home-to-school transport has certainly dominated the initial feedback to ESPCF about the return to school, and we were incredibly disappointed to hear from several families that things didn't go smoothly.

A number of ESPCF members got in touch to say that they'd had no communication from the local authority about their child or young person’s travel arrangements. This created uncertainty and anxiety, and left no time for familiarisation visits with drivers and passenger assistants. For some families, the first day of term arrived and they had no idea who would be collecting their child, or if any transport would even be coming at all. This was of course an exceptionally stressful situation for many families.

Background

Around the beginning of the summer holidays, several members told us that they were worried about transport arrangements for September, and ESPCF met with a senior member of the transport team to relay this feedback. We were pleased to receive reassuring information around plans to transport within class 'bubbles', personal travel budget queries, and timescales of when families should receive more details – all of which we passed back to our members.

Communicating with families

The local authority responded positively to our request for an update on its website, reassuring parent carers that transport had not been forgotten, and that the new arrangements would take into account guidance around social distancing and other Covid-related measures.

It was therefore frustrating that this positive momentum didn't carry forwards in the lead up to schools reopening. The forum did its best to raise specific concerns, and passed on urgent cases directly to ISEND leaders to resolve before the first day of school.

The transport department has been working in challenging circumstances, having to re-plan all of the routes in accordance with school bubbles, and waiting for government guidance to be finalised, however, they acknowledge that families should have had better.

Getting in touch

  • Did you receive an email from the transport department to let you know who your child's transport provider would be?
  • Were you contacted by the travel operator before your child's first day back at school?
  • Is your child being transported within their school 'bubble'?

If the answer to any of these questions is No, or if you have other concerns, then please contact the transport team (see below) who are keen to hear feedback directly from parent carers. This will help them build a better picture of what went wrong for some families, so they can work out how or why this happened. This is crucial to help them to determine where processes need to be changed for next time.

We are grateful that Gillian Laughlin, team manager in Transport and Operational Services at East Sussex County Council, has told ESPCF that parent carers can contact her directly to share their experiences: gillian.laughlin@eastsussex.gov.uk

What next?

ESPCF will be following up in the coming weeks once the transport team has looked into the issues. We would also love to hear from those of you who have had positive experiences with your child's home-to-school transport, so that good practice can be shared. You can email the forum directly on info@espcf.org.uk

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