SCHOOL TRANSPORT SERVICES by cometjunkie53

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									STIRLING COUNCIL
SERVICE DELIVERY AND PERFORMANCE COMMITTEE 1 FEBRUARY 2007

THIS REPORT RELATES TO ITEM 10 ON THE AGENDA

CHILDREN'S

NOT EXEMPT SCHOOL TRANSPORT SERVICES

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SUMMARY 1.1 At its meeting on 28 September 2006, Service Delivery and Performance Committee asked for a report on the application of the Council policy for home to school transport and a comparison between it and the policy of other authorities. The details of the work undertaken to date are contained in this report.

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RECOMMENDATION(S) 2.1 Service Delivery and Performance Committee is asked to note the content of this report and identify whether further information is required.

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CONSIDERATIONS Policy 3.1 Children’s Services revised Transport Policy was approved by Economy Committee on 8 June 2006. The revised policy brings together into one place the various forms of transport provided to children and young people by Stirling Council and covers:• • • • • 3.2 Home to school transport; Additional needs home to school transport; Home to nursery transport; Non school related welfare transport; Other transport.

Not all elements of the transport policy have yet been completed. A copy of the policy is attached at Appendix 1 for information.

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3.3

Home to school transport – eligibility for free home to school transport is based on (a) distance and (b) suitability of available walking or cycling routes. Under the terms of the Council’s policy a child or young person is entitled to free home to school transport if:• they are under 8 years old and the shortest available suitable route to their catchment school exceeds 2 miles, or • they are 8 years old or over and the shortest available suitable route to their catchment school exceeds 3 miles. These distances are as set out in the Education (Scotland) Act 1980 as amended. Provision may be by private contracted vehicle (including a dedicated school bus), season ticket to allow access to a scheduled public bus service or a parental mileage allowance. All three options are used to provide free home to school transport for children and young people within the Stirling Council area.

3.4

Where a child or young person attends a school other than their own catchment school as a result of a placing request there is no eligibility to free home to school transport regardless of distance or suitability of walking route. Details of how the distance and suitability criteria are assessed and applied are contained in Section 3.21 below. Those children and young people not otherwise eligible for free home to school transport may, where spaces are available, purchase a surplus space on dedicated school transport provision under the Council’s Privilege Pass scheme (section 5 of the revised policy). Surplus spaces are only available where a dedicated school transport service is in place and more places are provided than are required for entitled children or young people. The current cost of a surplus space is £270 per annum. Surplus spaces are allocated on a first come, first served basis. Additional needs transport – transport for children with additional support needs is also provided free of charge where this is recommended and agreed as part of the learning and support package for an individual child or young person. Usually, due to the particular needs of the child or young person, such provision will be in smaller private hire vehicles and with an escort employed by Stirling Council. Given the implementation of the Additional Support for Learning Act 2004, this area of the transport policy is currently under review and a revision will be brought forward for consideration by Members this year. Nursery transport – there is no statutory basis for the provision of home to nursery transport. To assist with access, in particular to more rural provision, free transport is currently provided to a number of stand-alone nurseries, using vehicles based at these establishments. Due to supervision, location, age of children and timing of journeys, nursery transport provision is not currently combined with home to school transport provision. This area of the transport policy is also currently under review.

3.5 3.6

3.7

3.8

3.9

3.10

Welfare transport – generally this transport is provided to children and young people being supported by Children and Families Social Work teams. Such transport is provided to support care packages and fostering arrangements. Each case is assessed on an individual basis and authorised by each Team Leader. Again, this area of the transport policy is currently under review. Other Transport – in supporting curriculum provision within Children’s Services establishments a range of other transport provision is also made available. The main areas under this heading relate to primary school swimming provision and secondary school college/alternative curriculum provision.

3.11

Facts and Figures 3.12 Stirling Council provides free home to school transport to a total of 2265 children and young people from a total roll of 12,921 (17.5%). The breakdown is as follows:• Primary school – 356; • Secondary school – 1726; • Additional support needs – 183. 3.13 As noted above, a number of different means of transport provision are used to deliver the home to school and additional support needs transport outlined above. The breakdown is as follows:Primary Secondary ASN Total

Season ticket Contracted school bus service Contracted Minibus (not ASN) Contracted Taxi (not ASN) Contracted Taxi/Minibus (ASN) Council vehicle Parental Agreement Total 12 356 126 218

1055 561 74 28 183 7 1 1726 183

1055 561 200 246 183 7 13 2265

3.14

The total cost of home to school transport, including additional support needs provision is £2,139,883, broken down as follows:• Primary transport provision - £422,986; • Secondary transport provision - £1,003, 381; • Additional support needs transport provision - £713,516.

3.15

Figures for transport provided on welfare grounds is not currently available. This is an area of management information that will be developed. New processes have recently been put in place to manage and monitor this area of transport provision that will in future enable data to be provided. The cost of welfare transport provision in the current year is projected to be £26K A total of 70 children currently receive free transport from home to nursery. As noted above, this area of service provision is currently under review. The cost of nursery transport provision for the current year is projected to be £82,000. A contract is in place to provide regular transport to support swimming provision for primary age pupils. The value of this contract is £31,000. Transport provision is managed for Children’s Services by the Council’s Transport Co-ordination Unit within Environment Services. A good working partnership exists between the two services. Wherever possible, school transport contracts are not undertaken in isolation and opportunities for providing services that can also support local public bus services are also maximised. Transport Co-ordination Unit manage both the annual season ticket purchases for Children’s Services and the longer term tendering and management of contracted school bus services. Transport provided through use of taxis and small buses under 25 seats is contracted on a 3 year basis whilst large bus contracts for over 25 seats are contracted on a 5 year basis. Both types of contract have annual flexibility to allow adjustment on a year by year basis as service levels require. A total of 329 contracts have been put in place and are managed by Transport Co-ordination Unit on behalf of Children’s Services.

3.16

3.17 3.18

3.19

3.20

Policy application 3.21 As noted above, the main criteria for eligibility for receipt of free home to school transport is either:• Distance from home to school; or • Non-availability of a suitable walking route;or • Additional support needs. 3.22 Distance entitlement – the distance from home to school is measured by the shortest walking route between the home address and the school gates. Distances are measured using the Council’s GIS system. Where distances are queried and are marginal, they are physically measured on the ground. As noted above, distance entitlement only applies where a child or young person attends their designated catchment school unless they have been alternatively placed by the Council.

3.23

Suitability assessment – Assessments are carried out on the basis of whether a route is suitable for a child to walk whilst accompanied by an adult. The assessment takes into a number of factors including availability, condition and width of footpaths; speed, volume and type of traffic; availability of street lighting; and necessity for unsupervised road crossings. The factors are assessed in combination so what is acceptable on a road with low traffic volumes will differ from what is acceptable on a road with high traffic volumes. Assessments are undertaken jointly by Children’s Services and the Transport Co-ordination Unit. Where an assessment is questioned, a review is undertaken by the Head of Planning, Performance & Resources and, as necessary, the Director of Children’s Services. Specialist advice may also be sought from road safety experts and the Police as necessary in complex situations. Assessment of a route as unsuitable may change if appropriate improvements can be put in place, for example improved lighting, condition and availability of footpaths, traffic calming measures or crossing patrols. Additional support needs – as noted previously, assessment for transport on the basis of additional support needs is undertaken on an individual basis as part of an overall education and care package. Surplus Spaces – Where available, children and young people who would not otherwise be entitled to free home to school transport may request a surplus space under the terms of the Council’s Privilege Pass scheme. This was implemented in April 2006 and replaced the previous concessionary places scheme. Under the revised scheme, where surplus places exist on a contracted school bus service these can be purchased on a first come, first served basis by children and young people who are not otherwise eligible for free transport. A space is only allocated if it is not required for a child or young person who is eligible for free transport and can be withdrawn if it is subsequently required. Surplus places are charged at a flat rate of £270 per academic session. To date, 43 surplus spaces have been allocated. Under the terms of the policy and in line with the Council’s concessionary framework, no charge is levied for children entitled to free school meals or footwear and clothing grants.

3.24

3.25

3.26

3.27

3.28

Comparisons with other councils 3.29 With regard to distance entitlement, the 32 Local Authorities have differing policy entitlements. For secondary age children, the picture is fairly evenly balanced between 2 miles and 3 miles as the distance criteria with 16 and 14 Authorities respectively adopting these distances. Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has a flat rate 1 mile distance for all children and young people. The picture for primary age children is more complex with the majority of authorities opting for a single distance entitlement for all primary age children (24 authorities) with 11 of those adopting a 2 mile criteria, 13 adopting a 1 mile criteria and 1 adopting a 1.5 mile criteria.

3.30

3.31

A minority of authorities (6) including Stirling, change the distance criteria at age 8 in line with the Education (Scotland) Act 1980 as amended. Of those 6 authorities, 2 set the distance criteria at 1 and 2 miles for under and over 8 year old children respectively and the remaining 4, including Stirling, use the statutory distances of 2 and 3 miles respectively. This means that for children aged under 8 years old, 14 other authorities have the same distance criteria as Stirling Council. For children aged over 8 years and still at primary school, 4 other authorities have the same distance criteria as Stirling Council. For secondary age children and young people, 13 other authorities have the same distance criteria as Stirling Council. An outline of policy by Council is attached in Appendix 2 for information.

3.32

3.33

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POLICY/RESOURCE IMPLICATIONS AND CONSULTATIONS
Policy Implications (delete Yes/No as appropriate) Diversity (age, disability, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation) Sustainability (community, economic, environmental) Corporate/Service Plan Existing Policy or Strategy Risk Resource Implications (delete Yes/No as appropriate) Financial People Land and Property or IT Systems Consultations (delete Yes/No as appropriate) Internal or External Consultations

No Yes Yes Yes No Yes No No No

Policy Implications 4.1 This report sets out the policy position of the Council in relation to Children’s Services transport eligibility.

Resource Implications 4.2 The policy operates within the financial framework of the existing revenue budget.

Consultations 4.3 There have been no consultations in the preparation of this report.

Author(s) Name Colin McMenemy

Designation Planning & Performance Officer Head of Planning, Performance & Resources

Tel No/Extension 442605

Rebecca Maxwell

442642

Approved by Name David Cameron

Designation Director of Children's Services

Signature

Date

17 January 2007

Reference

N:\DOCS\WP\PR\RM\scltrans scrutiny report_.doc


								
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