Contact responds as yet another council charges for post-16 school transport
Thursday 21st June 2018
This week Oxfordshire County Council decided to press ahead with its proposal to start charging for school transport for students aged 16 and over with special educational needs (SEN).
Responding to the council's decision, Contact's head of campaigns, Una Summerson, said: "We are disappointed that Oxfordshire council has voted to cut free school transport for some disabled children and young people, which means they are now unfairly disadvantaged.
"While we recognise that the council has made this difficult decision due to budget pressures, we don't believe the solution is to pass this pressure onto vulnerable families already facing significant extra costs and challenges associated with caring for a disabled young person.
"We are really concerned that more and more disabled children across England are being refused school transport or charged for it, as councils exploit what we think is a loophole in the law. How can it be fair that the law says a disabled young person is expected to be in school or training until 18 but does not have the transport to get there once they turn 16?
"The impact of losing school transport is huge - with parents having to give up work or disabled teenagers unable to complete their education. That's why we are calling on the government to plug the gap in school transport policy for disabled 16 and 17 year olds to stop councils doing this."
Contact is worried that families that disabled children up and down the country are being charged or refused school transport, as councils, like Oxfordshire County Council, exploit a loophole in the law.
The law says a young person is expected to be in school or training until 18 but does not have the transport to get there once they turn 16. This loophole means that funding transport for disabled teenagers is up to the individual council's discretion.
As councils struggle with budget pressures, more and more are withdrawing funding for disabled youngsters to receive school transport. That's why we are calling on the government to close this legal loophole and presented a petition, signed by over 10,000 people to Downing Street last week about this issue.
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For local parent carer groups and forums we have advice on how to challenge local school transport consultations.
If you have been refused school transport or want to find out about your rights to school transport, please call our helpline for advice on 0808 808 3555 (Open Monday-Fri 9.30am-5pm).