Channel 4 News highlights school transport issues for disabled young people

3 mins read

Tuesday 11 June 2024

Tags: disabled children, school transport

There has been an increase in enquiries on Contact’s education helpline about school transport for young disabled people who are 16 and over. We are hearing from more families whose child’s transport has been denied or they are being charged increased costs for it.

Many councils use their discretion to fund transport for disabled young people, aged 16 and over, despite there being no legal requirement under transport law to do so. But as their budgets have come under increasing pressure they are looking at where they can cut.

Channel 4 News have investigated the post-16 transport issue in this film. It features Contact’s CEO Anna Bird and families we support.

School transport is a top issue

Anna Bird, Chief Executive at Contact, said: “School transport is consistently in the top 10 issues on Contact’s education helpline. We anticipate demand for advice and support through our helpline and online channels to increase in the next few months as councils look to make further savings on their school transport costs.

“But it’s vital that councils and the government understand what is at stake. School transport is the difference between coping and crisis for many families with disabled children.

“That’s why it feels important and timely for Contact to be launching a new project about school transport for disabled children and young people.”

Announcing Contact’s new school transport project

The project is parent-led and has been made possible thanks to a grant from the Motability Foundation. The project will scope out the picture of home to school transport for all ages of disabled children across England. This evidence will be used to influence policy, raise awareness in the media and campaign to improve school transport for disabled children and young people.

Rachel Dixon, policy lead on school transport at Contact, said: “As the parent of a disabled 19-year-old who uses school transport to get to college, I am in this project heart and soul.

“I know first-hand that a lack of specialist provision and college courses for disabled young people means they often have to travel much further. And travelling independently is not possible for many.

“School transport is an integral part of the school day for disabled children and young people, building confidence and independence and we will be making that case very loudly through our new project.”

Please answer some questions on post 16 school transport to help our campaign.

What we would like to see

  • Contact would like to see more specialist provision and college courses as well as SEN support in mainstream schools. This would ensure more disabled children and young people can have their needs met locally, and would reduce the requirement for travel.
  • We are calling on the next government to close the loophole in the law for 16–18-year-olds. Currently they are expected to stay in education but without the means to get there. Until the government fixes the law, councils must be given the funding to make free transport arrangements for this group of young disabled people.

Need advice?

You can find information on the rules around school transport including how to challenge a decision in our school transport web pages.

Find out more about our school transport campaign.