Agenda and minutes

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Contact: Deborah Miller, Tel: 07920 084239  Email: deborah.miller@oxfordshire.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

93/18

Introduction and Welcome

Minutes:

The Chairman welcomed everyone to the Meeting and in particular the members of the public who had come to address the Committee on the issue of Home to School Transport.

94/18

Election of Chairman for the 2018/19 Council Year

Minutes:

Councillor Mrs Anda Fitzgerald O’Connor proposed and Councillor Carter seconded that Councillor Waine be elected Chairman of the Education Scrutiny Committee for the 2018/19 Council Year.

 

There being no further nominations, the motion was put to the vote and was carried nem con.

 

RESOLVED:  That Councillor Michael Waine be elected as Chairman of the Education Scrutiny Committee for the 2018/19 Municipal Year.

95/18

Election of Deputy Chairman for the 2018/19 Council Year

Minutes:

Councillor Waine moved and Councillor Carter seconded that Councillor John Howson be elected Deputy Chairman of the Committee for the 2018/19 Council Year. There being no further nominations, the motion was put to the vote and was carried nem con.

 

RESOLVED: (nem con) that Councillor John Howson be elected Chairman of the Committee for the 2018/19 Council Year.

96/18

Apologies for Absence and Temporary Appointments

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Jeannette Matelot  (Councillor Nick Carter substituting) and from Councillor Susanne Bartington (Councillor Ian Corkin substituting).

 

97/18

Petitions and Public Address

Minutes:

The Scrutiny Committee received the following Public Address:

 

Item

Speaker

 

7. The Proposed Home to School Travel and Transport Policy

 

Ms Kathy Liddell, Oxfordshire Family Support Network;

 

Ms Jessica Patton;

 

Mr John Riches, Chair of the Oxfordshire Association of Special School Headteachers (OASSH).

 

 

 

 

 

 

98/18

The Proposed Home to School Travel and Transport Policy pdf icon PDF 222 KB

Report by Director for Children, Education and Families (ESC7)

 

On the 19 June 2018, the Cabinet will consider and determine a Home to School Transport Policy for Oxfordshire.  The Education Committee has requested that it consider the report prior to Cabinet. 

 

The Council has proposed and consulted upon a number of changes to its home to school transport policies applying to post-16 students and to those of statutory school age and these are outlined in the Cabinet report.

 

Oxfordshire County Council’s current Home to School Transport Policy is more generous than the law requires for Post-16 students who have an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) and for Post 16mainstream students who attend Henley College. Unfortunately, given the continuing pressure on public finances, the Council now needs to critically consider whether it should continue to maintain spending on this non-statutory assistance for these groups of post16 students. The main proposals include ending automatic free travel for most Post-16 SEND students attending their nearest suitable placement if that placement is over 3 miles away, ending Post-16 subsidised transport to Henley College, clearly specifying when free travel will be provided to alternative education providers and specifying charges for the “Spare Seat” Scheme (formerly known as the Concessionary Travel Scheme) for the years 2018/19 to 2022/23. In addition, as part of Oxfordshire County Council’s commitment to the Military Covenant we also consulted on whether to continue for a further year the current time limited free travel arrangements for those students who are resident at RAF Benson (the need for which is linked to the lack of sufficient places the nearest school, Wallingford School) the nearest school to RAF Benson.

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The Education Scrutiny Committee is RECOMMENDED to consider the and comment upon the report prior to its consideration by Cabinet.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council had proposed and consulted upon a number of changes to its home to school transport policies applying to Post 16 students and to those of statutory school age. On 19 June 2108 Cabinet were due to consider a report seeking approval of the changes and revised Home to School Transport and Travel Policy. Accordingly, an Extraordinary Meeting of the Education Scrutiny Committee had been convened to discuss the proposals put forward for a Home to School Transport Policy for Oxfordshire prior to Cabinet consideration on 19 June.

 

Kathy Liddell, representing the Oxfordshire Family Support Network (oxfsn) spoke on behalf of a number of parents against the proposal to cut transport to school/college for post 16 students.  She spoke of oxfsn’s disappointment that the Council had not written individually to those currently receiving transport to seek their views and were instead relying on word of mouth and upon schools and colleges.  She referred to section 5 of the report and the Council’s responsibilities to children with special needs, explaining that oxfsn believed that the discretionary offer of assistance was tantamount to a blanket withdrawal of support for over 16’s with SEND.  Oxfsn further believed that the need to meet all four criteria set out in the policy to receive assistance would narrow the number of potentially successful applicants down to a very small fraction of those who really needed and deserved support. 

 

Oxfsn asked why it was essential for there to be a medical condition or other circumstance preventing parents from taking to school or lowest income and suggested unaffordable or practically impossible should be added.  They further felt that the lack of local spaces locally had not been taken into account.  Oxfsn asked for clarification on whether the policy would apply to existing post 16 students and reminded the Council that parents of children with often profound, complex and severe special needs were often at their wits ends and least able to engage in an appeal process.

 

Jessica Patton, as a parent of a child with severe learning disabilities and autism spoke against the recommended changes relating to SEN students.  Ms Patton explained that although the proposals would not directly her child, if she had been a few years younger the impact would have been severe, both financially and on her ability to work.  Given the limited number of places in Oxfordshire and the rural nature of the County, there were many areas without a bus service and families without a car would not be able to get their children to school.  The time required to get their children to and from school would impact on families’ ability to work.  She further referred to the impact on family life, with many parents already struggling to balance the needs of their disabled children with those of their other children.  She firmly believed that the proposals did not comply with the DoE statutory guidance on post 16 home to school transport and that the policy in its current form with  ...  view the full minutes text for item 98/18