October 4, 2019
A review of school transport in Wales has found that there is a lack of safe transport for pupils with additional needs. The children’s commissioner for Wales, Professor Sally Holland, stated in her annual report that some children are not being educated as a result of the crisis and they’re at risk of being let down when school transport arrangements change.
Professor Holland has urged the government to review its policies after stating that the current situation isn’t acceptable. Welsh ministers say they’re committed to improving school transport in the country so that all children can get to school safely.
There have been several cases that highlight the effect that inefficient school transport has on children with special needs. Many parents have complained that it can disturb a child’s routine which can result in them missing school completely. Often children end up using transport that isn’t suitable for their needs. Professor Holland said that these type of changes can lead to stress for the child and the government must step in to improve the situation.
Transporting children to and from school is arranged by the local authority. Wheelchair accessible minibuses and vehicles are available but children with additional learning needs, like ADHD, autism and Asperger’s syndrome are left to use transport that simply isn’t suitable. Using smaller vehicles with less children or arranging earlier pick up times could help but these are regularly changed. The report discussed a new law which will provide additional learning opportunities for children with additional needs but Professor Holland commented that there must be travel arrangements in place to support this.
Committed to Learners
The Welsh Government has committed to ensuring pupils have access to safe transport and recognised that there are challenges within the current system. They’ve promised that they will provide all the support that these children and their families require.
A government spokesman commented: “This includes travelling further, travelling on an individual basis or in small groups, or requiring companions to assist them in their journey,” said a spokesman.
“The learner travel measure sets out the duties to provide safe transport provision for learners, and the Additional Learning Needs Act and the Social Services and Wellbeing Act provide the legislative background to improve outcomes for people with additional learning needs.”