Contact responds to BBC school transport research

2 mins read

Wednesday 27 March 2024

Tags: school transport, bbc research, council spending, cuts

The BBC has published research that finds council spending on school transport has doubled in the last five years.

Tim Oliver, leader of the County Councils Network, has called the costs “unsustainable” and suggests that parents might have to pay for their child’s transport.

Anna Bird, Chief Executive of Contact, said:

“We understand the very real difficulties that local authorities have with their squeezed budgets, but it isn’t fair to balance the books on the backs of families with disabled children. 

School transport costs are being driven up by a combination of factors, including the lack of funding for support in mainstream school for children with special educational needs (SEN), driving more to special schools that are often further away. This, together with more eligible children, plus higher fuel and staff costs and the reliance of local authorities on private companies to provide school transport, has led to increased costs. But the law is very clear on what transport must be provided to disabled children.

“We have seen school transport policies placing emphasis on cost-cutting rather than transport based on individual need and legal entitlements. It places all responsibility on parents already under enormous pressures. Disabled children are more likely to travel further to school or college because local schools can’t meet their needs. Unlike their non-disabled peers, many can’t travel independently, even as they reach secondary school age.”