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A journey to a journey – transformation of Home to School Travel

by | Apr 29, 2024 | Place | 0 comments

Home to School Travel is making headlines in the mainstream media this year – particularly journeys for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). In March, the BBC reported that the cost of school transport for SEND children in some counties has doubled in the last five years, and the County Councils Network (CCN) November 2023 “From home to the classroom: making travel to school services sustainable” report concluded that by 2027/28 there are likely to be 80,000 more children and young people in their member authorities requiring transport than there were a decade earlier. Possible solutions are being floated in the media including building more special schools and, controversially, means testing SEND families. The one thing that isn’t routinely being talked about is the children and young people themselves.  

Many councils are working really hard to try to ease the pressure on the Home to School Travel system, and common projects include route optimisation, use of smart technology and fleet management. All of these initiatives are valuable and will make vital inroads into working towards a more efficient system, but none of them consider the wider picture for the individual, nor their strengths and needs. 

At IMPOWER we have worked with over a dozen councils on home to school travel, identifying over £20m of savings. Our multi-disciplinary team – including experts in SEN, transport and procurement take a different approach by widening the lens through which our clients begin to tackle the challenge. In our view, the actual journey is the final part of a longer metaphorical journey. This is one which involves really understanding the demand picture for Home to School Travel, the needs and strengths of individuals and the potential development of children and young people’s ability to travel more independently as they grow and begin to prepare for adulthood. Crucially, Home to School Travel should be considered as one part of the whole experience jigsaw for children and young people and their families, and not in isolation. It should bring together expertise from across the system – from teachers to fleet managers – to improve outcomes. 

Key considerations include where they are travelling to and why, what is driving decisions to transport a child for an hour or more to school, and how does that impact their readiness to learn, and enjoyment of their day? Whatever solutions are tested, we believe they need to be designed with a child centred, holistic view of the individual circumstances, needs and strengths of each young person. 

This month we team up with the County Councils Network in a webinar for their members, to shine a light on local areas who are tackling the challenge in a holistic way. Instead of waiting for legislation change or more funding from central government, these local areas are looking at ways they can make a difference in the way Home to School Travel is managed, whilst respecting the rights and individual needs of children and young people and their families.  

If you would like to learn more about our work or speak with a member of the team, please get in touch.