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Policies and guidance

Walsall Council's transport policies in full, and extra information to help you understand what we do and what we need from you.

Policies

Home to school transport policy 2021/22

Introduction

A. This document sets out Walsall Council’s policy for providing transport or travel support to children of compulsory school age (5-16), young people of sixth form age (16-18) and those aged 19 to 25 for whom an EHC plan is maintained. It describes the circumstances in which the Council will provide free home to school transport and the other travel support services that are available. 

B. This policy has been produced in accordance with the requirements of the 1996 Education Act, as amended by Part 6 of the Education and  Inspections Act 2006, and subsequent statutory guidance issued by the Department for Education (i.e. the Home to School Travel and Transport Guidance: July 2014 and the Post 16 transport and travel support to education and training: January 2019). 

C. The Education Act 1996 places a legal duty and a responsibility on parents to (firstly) ensure that their school aged children are registered at a school and (secondly) attend their school regularly. Therefore parents must also make any necessary arrangements to ensure that their children attend school each day on time. Parents who fail to secure the regular attendance of their child at school commit an offence under section 444 of the Education Act 1996.

D. The Council must provide free transport to and from school to those children who are eligible if they are aged between 5 and 16 (‘statutory school age’). The transport will comprise such arrangements as the Council considers necessary to ensure that suitable travel arrangements are put in place to facilitate each eligible child to attend their school (or other educational establishment). These arrangements are summarised in this policy document.

Section 1: General eligibility

Children of statutory school age

1.1 Pupils will qualify for free home to school transport if:

  • they are a resident of the Borough of Walsall; and
  • they are 5-8 years of age and live more than 2 miles from their nearest suitable school; or
  • they are 8-16 years of age (at the end of the school year in which they reach 16) and live more than 3 miles from their nearest suitable school

1.2 Transport is to the nearest ‘suitable school’. That is the nearest qualifying school, with places available, that provides education appropriate to the age, ability and aptitude of the child and any special educational needs that the child may have. This may not necessarily be the school of the parents’ preference.

1.3 The Council does not have a statutory duty to transport children to school unless the criteria in paragraphs 1.1 and 1.2 are met.

Children from low income families

1.4 Entitlement to free home to school transport is extended to pupils from low income groups. Children from low income families are defined as those who are entitled to free school meals due to their income, or whose family receives the maximum Working Tax Credits or Universal Credits (UC) if:

  • they are a resident in the Borough of Walsall; and
  • they are aged over 8 and under 11 years and living more than 2 miles from their nearest appropriate school; or
  • they are 11-16 years of age and attend one of the nearest three appropriate schools as long as the school is between 2 miles and 6 miles from the child’s home address; or
  • they are 11-16 years of age and the nearest school is preferred on grounds of ‘religion’ or ‘belief’, as long as the school is between 2 miles and 15 miles from the child’s home address
Children below statutory school age

1.5 Free travel assistance is provided only to children who are below statutory school age who are attending a Reception class in a state funded infant or primary school as ‘rising 5s’, and where there is an entitlement to transport as set out in paragraphs 1.1 and 1.4 above (disregarding the age restrictions in that paragraph). 

Home address and change of address

1.6 Free travel assistance is provided by or on behalf of the Council from the child’s permanent home address to the school where they are on roll. A child’s ‘home’ is the place where he/she is habitually and normally resident. If a child spends time at more than one address during the school week, eligibility for travel assistance will be assessed from their home address as recorded by the school and any travel arrangements will apply to that address only. When a family moves to a new address, eligibility for travel assistance will be re-assessed using the policy in place at the time of the move.

1.7 For children in Year 10 or Year 11, travel assistance to a school in Walsall or elsewhere may be provided if transfer to a school closer to home is impractical, because of syllabus or entry requirements, and where the distance between home and school by the shortest walking route is 3 miles or greater. 

Change of school

1.8 Sometimes ‘managed moves’ are arranged where a child attends another school for an initial period before going on roll at that school. Travel assistance will be provided during that period where the child meets the eligibility criteria of the home to school distance or low family income (see paragraphs 1.1 and 1.4). 

1.9 In some cases, a child may attend a Short Stay School (Pupil Referral Unit) or similar provision for a period of time. Assistance with travel will be provided so long as the eligibility criteria are met.

Exceptional circumstances

1.10 In exceptional or extenuating circumstances, the Council may use its discretionary statutory powers to provide transport for those children who do not meet the eligibility criteria for free travel support. Each case will be judged on its own merits. Examples of the circumstances in which the Council might exercise its discretion are as follows: 

i) Children with a temporary medical condition where usual travel to school arrangements are impeded by the medical condition. The parent/carer must submit evidence to outline why they were unable to get the child to school themselves and to provide written evidence from the child’s GP or hospital consultant stating why they were unable to walk to school and the likely period of their incapacity.

ii) Children in the care of the Local Authority and those with further special circumstances may also be supported, for instance, where a Looked After Child moves placements resulting in a change of home address and they need to stay on roll at the school they currently attend.

iii) If the available walking route is unsafe, even for a child accompanied by an adult, taking into account the age of the child and the nature of the route. A route may be deemed to be unsafe following an assessment by Council staff.

Denominational travel

1.11 The Council ceased to provide transport assistance to faith schools from September 2015, other than to pupils who qualify for this through the low income criteria described above (see paragraph 1.4 above). However, any children currently receiving free transport assistance in the form of a bus pass will continue to do so while they are eligible up the age of 16, or until they move to another school (whichever is earlier).

Distances and accompaniment

1.12 Distances for the assessment of eligibility are measured according to the shortest available walking route (not the shortest distance by road). This is a route along which a child, accompanied as necessary, can walk with reasonable safety to their school.

This methodology does not apply to the 6 mile and 15 mile upper distance limits, which are measured along road routes.

1.13 The general expectation is that a child will be accompanied by a parent if necessary when walking to school, unless there is good reason to show that this expectation would be unreasonable, such as for example if a parent’s disability prevents them from accompanying their child.

Types of transport support provided

1.14 The Council provides the following kinds of transport support for eligible pupils:

i) Bus pass: Travel assistance is usually provided in the form of a bus pass for use on public bus services.

ii) Independent travel training (with bus pass): an accredited training scheme is available to secondary school age students, where this is appropriate.

iii) Travel expenses: The payment of travelling expenses in the form of a personal travel budget. A mileage or a cycling allowance may be offered as alternatives where this is cost effective. 

iv) Coaches, minibuses and individual taxis: Depending on the nature of the travel need of an eligible pupil, vehicle types such as these may be provided where it is cost effective and where they are the only viable alternative to a bus pass.

1.15 Where there are two or more eligible children living at the same address, attending the same school and mileage has been agreed for one child, an additional mileage allowance will not be paid as both or all children are expected to travel together.

1.16 Where a family has two or more children attending different qualifying schools, the mileage for the entire route will be paid based on the optimum route defined by the Local Authority.

Decisions and appeals

1.17 Staff in the Council’s Transport team will provide, in writing, the reasons for the Council’s rejection of any application which has been made to it for free transport or travel assistance under this Policy. Parents or carers of the child in question will then have a right of appeal against any decision by the Council under this Policy not to offer travel assistance for their child, or against the transport arrangements which have
been offered by the Council. The appeals process is described in section 5 of this Policy.

Section 2: Children of statutory school age with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND)

Eligibility

2.1 Most children with an Education, Health and Care Plan do not require any additional specialist support with home to school transport beyond a bus pass or a place on a contracted coach. If additional transport assistance is necessary, the Council will arrange the most suitable form of transport provision that takes account of the needs of the child in question. Each child will be assessed on an individual basis to identify
their particular transport requirements.

2.2 Transport assistance will be provided for a child with special educational needs of statutory school age under the general eligibility criteria that are set out in Section 1 of this policy. If parents opt for and the child attends a school that is a greater distance from home than the school that is named by the Local Authority as the appropriate or nearest suitable school, then the Council will not meet any costs of travel.

2.3 Transport assistance may be provided for pupils who are resident in the Borough of Walsall regardless of the distance between their home and the nearest appropriate school on the following grounds:

i) Physical, sensory or medical need. Children who cannot reasonably walk to school even when accompanied by an adult because of associated health and safety issues related to either their special educational needs or to their ‘disability’ (as defined by the Equality Act 2010)

ii) Significant special needs, in which case the Council will have regard to:

  • the age of the pupil
  • the appropriateness of the walking route
  • the special educational needs of the pupil
  • whether the pupil has physical, medical or social communication difficulties that would exclude them from using public transport
  • whether the pupil would be vulnerable and at risk of danger if they used public transport
  • the efficient use of resources
  • any other individual circumstances

2.4 The Council’s assessment of the need for transport support for each eligible pupil will cover both eligibility for support and the type of transport provision. A review will take place annually, ordinarily as part of the annual review of the child’s statement or Education, Health and Care Plan. The provision of vehicular transport may cease to be needed as a young person becomes more independent.

Residential schools

2.5 Children and young people who attend a residential school that has been named in their Education, Health and Care Plan as the most appropriate school to meet their needs, will be allowed a maximum of 6 return journeys from/to their school each year (at the beginning and end of each half term). For 52 week placements, 8 return journeys are allowed.

2.6 Parents/carers can alternatively be reimbursed for the cost of the journey at an agreed rate that is based on the actual mileage to and from the school, or can apply to the Council for a Personal Travel Budget (see paragraph 2.8(v) below).

Forms of travel assistance

2.7 When a young person is assessed as eligible for free travel assistance to school, the decision on the type of transport will be made by the Council based on an assessment of the young person’s needs and the efficient use of the Council’s resources.

2.8 The Council offers a range of transport support for children with special educational needs and disabilities as detailed below:

i) Independent Travel Training (ITT). The aim of Independent Travel Training (ITT) is to give young people with SEND the skills and confidence to travel independently using public transport to and from school or college. Following an assessment of whether ITT is appropriate for them, Walsall Council’s ITT scheme provides each young person with their own personal travel programme to learn how to travel independently. Students are accompanied to and from school or college until they are ready to make the journey independently. 

ii) A young person’s travel pass will be provided once their travel training is completed. Alternatively, and subject to further training, support to buy a bicycle for use in getting to and from school or college may be provided (see paragraph 2.8(iv) below).

iii) Bus Pass/travel card: This is provided for use on public bus services where this is appropriate.

iv) Cycle scheme/ cycle training sessions: The Council offers cycle training for young people. Financial support for cycle purchase is also available for young people as an alternative to a travel card. A one-off cycle grant (to the value of £300) will be made to young people with special educational needs and disabilities of secondary school age who complete both an independent travel training scheme and a cycle training scheme.

v) Personal Travel Budget (PTB): A Personal Travel Budget is an allowance provided in advance by the Council to parents or carers of children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities who are eligible for travel assistance under this Policy. The PTB allows families to make their own arrangements for travel such as covering the costs of driving or making arrangements with other families. The PTB is based on the distance from home to the school, for one round trip per school day and a mileage rate of 45 pence per mile.

vi) Motability cars: The parents of some children may be in receipt of the higher rate mobility component of the Disability Living Allowance (DLA). This gives them access to the Motability scheme that supplies vehicles, adapted or not. If a Motability car has been provided for the benefit of a child with a disability, this may be taken into account, as part of a discussion with parents, in determining any transport arrangements. Reasonable evidence as to why the Motability vehicle is not available for the child to get to school must be submitted before any other transport or transport support can be provided. A Personal Travel Budget for mileage purposes may be agreed. Wear and tear costs are included in the Motability agreement.

vii) Vehicles: The Council may transport children/young people to and from school in private hire vehicles. These are full size coaches, minibuses, and adapted vehicles, separate or shared taxis. The type of vehicle will be the most appropriate according to each child’s needs. Children with special educational needs and disabilities may have specific needs that require the use of specialist vehicles. 

viii) Pupil attendants: Where appropriate, a pupil attendant will be provided through the authority’s contract with the vehicle operator. Pupil attendants are responsible for the supervision of pupils on the journey to and from school and for assisting children with entry into and out of the vehicle. They will supervise the behaviour and safety of children so that the driver is unhindered in his/her duties. Pupil attendants will normally be deployed where any of the following circumstances apply:

  • the pupil is of primary school age
  • there are 10 or more young people on a vehicle
  • the young person has medical needs, particularly where rescue medication is required
  • an individual pupil’s needs create a health and safety risk to themselves and to others on the vehicle
  • an assessment of the pupils on the vehicle and the journey to be undertaken highlights a health and safety risk to passengers on the vehicle
Other points

2.9 Some special needs travel assistance is provided through private hire vehicles, such as buses, minibuses and taxis. Contracts are awarded by the Council through a tendering process. The transport provider may change from time to time as a result of retendering or for other operational reasons. 

2.10 Where transport is provided, a child will be expected to join an existing transport route and share the vehicle with other pupils unless there are circumstances which are supported by evidence that this is not appropriate.

2.11 All coach and some minibus services collect and drop off children at designated ‘pick up points’ along their routes. Parents are responsible for getting their child/children to and collecting their child/children from those pick up points at the relevant times.

2.12 Parents/carers will be provided by the Council with a ‘Home to School Transport - A guide for passengers and their parents’ handbook once transport has been awarded. This sets out our service standards and provides information on how the service works and how parents/carers can help to make it run smoothly. 

Exceptional circumstances 

2.13 In exceptional or extenuating circumstances, the Council may use its discretionary statutory powers to provide transport for those children whose needs are such that do not meet the eligibility criteria for free transport or travel support. Each case will be judged on its own merits.

Decisions and appeals

2.14 Staff in the Council’s Transport team will provide in writing the reasons for the Council’s rejection of any application which has been made to it for free transport or travel assistance under this Policy. Parents or carers of the child in question will then have a right of appeal against any decision by the Council under this Policy not to offer travel assistance for their child, or against the transport arrangements which have been offered by the Council. The appeals process is described in section 5 of this Policy.

Section 3: Post-16 transport (16 to 19 year olds who have started a course before their 19th birthday)

3.1 A post-16 transport policy statement which applies to the above stated age group, is posted on the Council’s website at the end of May each year. The policy states the arrangements for the provisions of transport, or otherwise, that the Council considers necessary to facilitate the attendance of all persons of sixth form age receiving education or training.

3.2 The post-16 transport policy statement is updated annually by the Council and is published in May because it applies to young people moving into post 16 education and training in the following September. 

3.3 Walsall Council no longer provides direct transport support for young people aged 16-18 other than those with special educational needs or disabilities. 

3.4 The Council’s post-16 policy is to provide some students who have special educational needs with transport to support their participation in education or training, where this assessed to be necessary. This provision can be extended beyond age 19. The Council will also consider the post 19 student’s income. This provision is at the discretion of the Local Authority. 

3.5 The post-16 transport policy statement updates information on concessionary fares (which this Council supports) and identifies sources of information and financial assistance with transport, such as government bursaries, which young people can use to secure help with their home to school/college transport requirements .

January 2019

3.6 In January 2019, the Council adopted a new policy for post 16 education and training students with special educational needs and disabilities. The policy requires that each student or their family/carers must contribute towards the cost of any transport which is provided for them by the Council. The policy is as follows: 

i) Students with special educational needs and disabilities are eligible for help with transport to enable them to participate in education or training. Eligibility will be conditional upon the student attending the nearest appropriate school or college offering the majority of the course, with places available. The distance to the school or college must be more than 3 miles by the shortest available walking route from the home address for the student to qualify for transport support, unless this is overridden by the student’s special educational needs or disabilities. 

ii) An Independent Travel Training assessment will be offered to all post 16 students with special educational needs and disabilities. Once a student has completed an Independent Travel Training scheme, the Council will pay each academic year the cost of a regional travel card for the period of the course of study (unless the student qualifies for a Disabled Person’s card, which is free of charge). The Council has the discretion to subsidise this travel card for early morning travel if there is genuine hardship.

iii) Travel assistance will be offered to qualifying students from low income families, subject to a contribution from the student or their parents/carers of £300 per year to the cost of the transport. Young people from low income groups are defined as those entitled to free school meals and those whose households are in receipt of the maximum level of Working Tax Credit or Universal Credit or Employment and Support Allowance (Income related).

iv) Travel assistance will be offered to qualifying students from other families (i.e. which are not low income families), subject to a contribution from the student or their parents/carers of £600 per year to the cost of the transport. This will be for transport by contracted coach, minibus or taxi. The same principle will apply to other forms of transport support such as personal travel budgets or mileage allowances.

v) To be eligible for assistance, a student must be under 19 years of age at the beginning of the first year of their course. For courses starting in the autumn term, the academic year starts on 1 September. Support will continue until the end of the academic year in which the student completes the course of study. 

Students aged 19 to 25 with SEND 

3.7 Students who start a new course after the age of 19 may also be eligible for transport support from the Council. Students must have an Education, Health and Care Plan, or a Section 139a assessment. Each student must provide evidence to the Council to explain why in their view the Council should make the travel arrangements for them, rather than them making these arrangements for themselves or via their family.

3.8 The Council will then consider this evidence carefully and decide what practical support is necessary (if any) and whether this should be provided free of charge.

3.9 Alternatively, instead of providing transport, or other forms of travel assistance, the Council may simply opt to pay all or part of an adult student’s reasonable travelling expenses.

3.10 If the Council exercises its discretion to provide travel assistance then this will only be to the nearest appropriate school, college or Sixth Form College that can provide the desired qualification, with places available (see paragraph 3.4(i) above). For example a student who lives in Walsall wishes to attend a course that is on offer at different colleges in Walsall and Wolverhampton. The Council will only provide travel assistance to the college in Walsall if the students’ needs can adequately be met there. 

3.11 If the Council opts to provide any form of transport for any young adult aged 19 or over under this section 3, then this must be provided free of charge. 

Exceptional circumstances 

3.12 In exceptional or extenuating circumstances, the Council may use its discretionary statutory powers to provide transport or transport  support to any student whose needs and circumstances are such that do not meet the applicable eligibility criteria for transport or travel support under this section 3. Each case will be judged on its own merits. 

Decisions and appeals

3.13 Staff in the Council’s Transport team will provide, in writing, the reasons for the Council’s rejection of any application which has been made to it for free transport or travel assistance under this Policy. Parents or carers of the student in question, or the applicant student in their own right if they are an adult, will then have a right of appeal against any decision by the Council under this Policy not to offer transport or travel
assistance, or against the transport arrangements which have been offered by the Council. The appeals process is described in section 5 of this Policy.

Section 4: General information

Preferences based on religion or belief

4.1 When making decisions about its transport functions under this Policy, the Council is required to have regard to any preference which a relevant individual may have for a particular institution based on their religion or belief (i.e. the parent of any child, any young person of sixth form age, or any young adult). 

Journeys covered

4.2 Where transport is provided, this will be limited to the journey to school at the beginning of the school day and the journey home at the end of the school day. There is no provision for routes to be altered to take account of medical appointments, short breaks etc. Transport is not provided for work experience, to other educational settings or to short breaks. If a child becomes ill or is sent home from school because of
misbehaviour, it is the responsibility of their parent/carer to arrange for the collection of their child.

Poor behaviour on transport

4.3 The Local Authority may withdraw travel assistance where a child’s behaviour is unacceptable when they are using public transport or contracted vehicles. In such cases, the parent or carer would then be responsible for getting their child to and from school at their own expense.

CCTV on buses 

4.4 CCTV (closed circuit television) systems are used on contracted coaches and minibuses for reasons of safety and security. The scheme meets the requirements of the Council’s Information Governance and CCTV policies. A Data Protection Agreement for Data Processors and a Privacy Impact Assessment have also been completed by the Council to ensure compliance with all applicable data protection and other legal requirements.

How to apply

4.5 Bus pass applications must be submitted to the Council via email. Parents/carers must obtain and complete an application form and return it to buspassapplications@walsall.gov.uk by 1 August to guarantee the application is processed by the start of the academic year in September. The Council is unable to accept applications by post.

4.6 Applications received by the due date stated in paragraph 4.5 above will be processed and parents/carers will be given a date to come and collect the pass from the Civic Centre between 9:30am and 3pm on any working day. No passes will be sent by post.

4.7 For further information on special needs and disabilities transport support, Independent Travel Training, Personal Travel Budgets and how to apply, please contact the Transport Team in Children’s Services on 01922 653761/653762 or email sentransport@walsall.gov.uk

Complaints and appeals 

4.8 Any complaints should be referred in the first instance to the Children’s Services Transport Manager.

The Transport Team, Walsall Children’s Services

The Civic Centre, Darwall Street

Walsall, WS1 1TP

Tel 01922 653761 or 01922 653762

Email: sentransport@walsall.gov.uk

4.9 See also section 5 and Appendix 1 of this Policy, which explains what other options there may be available to pursue an appeal or a complaint.

Section 5: Travel assistance appeals

5.1 Stage 1

Parents or carers wishing to appeal have 20 working days from receipt of the Council’s decision about their child’s eligibility to free transport, or transport support under this policy, to make a written request to the Council asking for a review of the decision. Alternatively if the Council’s decision concerns a young adult (aged 18 to 25) then the young adult may make a written request for a review in their own right. The written
request for a review should explain why the Council’s decision should be reviewed.  Within 20 days of receipt of this request the Children’s Services Transport Manager will review the original decision and send a written notification of the resulting decision to the parents/carers/young adult who have/has appealed.

5.2 Stage 2 – Review by an appeal panel. 

A parent/carer/young adult has 20 working days from receipt of the stage 1 decision letter from the Council to make a written request to
escalate the matter to stage 2 if they are dissatisfied with the outcome of their stage 1 appeal. Within 40 days of the receipt by the Council of a request for a stage 2 appeal, an appeal panel will be convened by the Council and will consider written and/or verbal representation from both the parents/carers/young adult and officers involved and give a detailed written notification of the outcome of the appeal setting out the following
details:

  • The nature of the decision reached
  • How the review was conducted
  • Information about other departments and/or agencies that were consulted as part of the process
  • What factors were considered
  • The rationale for the decision reached
  • Information about the parents’/carers’/young adult’s right to complain to the Local Government Ombudsman

5.3 There is a further right of complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman if complainants consider that there was a failure by the Council to comply with the procedural rules under this Policy, or if there are any other irregularities in the way their appeal has been handled.

5.4 If the complainant considers the decision of the independent panel to be flawed on public law grounds, the complainant may also apply for judicial review. 

5.5 Full details of the appeals process are provided in Appendix 1.

Appendix 1: Travel assistance appeals

Introduction

Walsall Council has adopted an appeals procedure that has been recommended to all local authorities by the Department for Education. The intention is to ensure a consistent approach across all local authorities, and to provide a completely impartial second stage, for those cases relating to this policy that are not resolved at the first stage. 

The appeals process sets out a clear and transparent two stage process for parents/carers/young adults who wish to challenge a decision by the Council about:

  • the transport arrangements offered, including any actual transport provision
  • their child’s eligibility, or the eligibility of the young adult in question
  • the distance measurement in relation to statutory walking distances
  • the safety of the route

The appeals process is shown as a flow chart, on page 13.

Stage one: Review by a senior officer

A parent/carer of any affected child, or any affected young adult acting in their own right, has 20 working days from receipt of the Council decision to make a written request to the Council asking for a review of the decision. 

The written request should detail why the parent/carer/young adult believes the Council’s decision should be reviewed and give details of any personal and/or family circumstances the parent/carer/young adult believes should be considered when the Council’s decision is reviewed.

Within 20 working days of receipt of the parent’s/carer’s/young adult’s written request for a stage 1 review, a senior officer of the Council shall review the original decision and send the parent/carer/young adult a detailed written notification of the outcome of their review, setting out the following details: 

  • the nature of the decision reached
  • how the review was conducted (including the standard followed e.g. national Road Safety standards and guidance)
  • information about other departments and/or agencies that were consulted as part of the process
  • what factors were considered
  • the rationale for the decision reached
  • information about how the parent/carer/young adult can escalate their case to stage two (if appropriate)
Stage two: Review by an independent appeal panel

A parent/carer of any affected child, or a young adult acting in their own right, has 20 working days from their receipt of the Councils stage one written decision to make a written request to the Council to escalate the matter to stage two.  

Within 40 working days of receipt by the Council of the parents/carers/young adult’s stage 2 written request the Council will convene an independent appeal panel to consider written and verbal representations from both the parents/carers/young adult and officers involved in the case and give a detailed written notification of the outcome, setting out the following details:

  • the nature of the decision reached
  • how the review was conducted (including the standard followed e.g. National Road Safety guidance and standards)
  • information about other departments and/or agencies that were consulted as part of the process
  • what factors were considered
  • the rationale for the decision reached
  • information about the parent’s/carer’s/young adult’s right to complain to the Local Government Ombudsman (see below) or where applicable, the Secretary of State

The independent appeal panel members should be independent of the process to date and suitably experienced, to ensure that a balance is achieved between meeting the needs of the parents/carers/young adult concerned and the Council, and that road safety requirements are complied with and that no child/student is placed at unnecessary risk.

Local Government Ombudsman

Parents/carers/young adults have a right of complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO), but only if there is evidence of a failure by the Council to comply with the procedural rules or if there are any other irregularities in the way in which their appeal has been handled.

Secretary of State for Education

Young persons of sixth form age or their families can also complain to the Secretary of State for Education. Any complaint should outline the case, set out the decision taken by the Council and include any other relevant documentation (such as any advice or decision made by the LGO). 

Judicial review

If the complainant considers the decision of the independent panel to be flawed on public law grounds, the complainant may also apply to the courts for judicial review. 

Post-16 transport policy

Transport policy statement for students of sixth form age (16-18) and extended access to students aged 19 to 25 with SEND for 2021/22.

1. Introduction

Under the Raising the Participation Age agenda, from September 2014 Students have been required to be in education, employment or training until their 18th birthday. This could involve mixing full-time work with study, following an apprenticeship, continuing full-time in school or college or combining part-time training with volunteering. However, there is no change to compulsory school age and no extension to the entitlement to free transport beyond this (end of Year 11). 

Walsall Council is required by statute to set out what travel support is available from the Council and from other bodies to help young people (Students) aged 16-18 (and older in some cases) to attend their school, further education college or training provider. In compiling this Policy the Council has had regard to the ‘Post-16 transport and travel support to education and training’ January 2019 statutory guidance which has been issued by the Department for Education.

There is no automatic entitlement to free home to school or college transport once a Student is over 16 years and beyond statutory school age. Walsall no longer provides actual transport for post-16 students (other than in exceptional circumstances) and therefore the responsibility for providing or securing appropriate transport arrangements rests with the Student and or their parents/carers. 

Post-16 students with an Educational Health and Care Plan (EHCP) may be entitled to transport assistance. This is no longer free of charge. Transport support may also be extended above the age of 19 to enable the student to make further progress each year and also for students who start their course after the age of 19.  

Students aged 16-18 at the start of the academic year (1 September), and living within the West Midlands metropolitan area, are eligible for discounted travel tickets. Walsall Council makes payments each year to TfWM, the West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority, so that concessionary fares are available for Students. Information is provided in this Policy below about the range of concessionary fares and other sources of help that are available. 

All applications must be renewed and reassessed annually and will not be carried over from one academic year to the next.

This policy statement will be updated in 2022 to reflect changes that apply for the academic year 2022/23.

2. Special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND)

There is no special transport provision for SEND pupils and it is expected that all SEND students with a statement or EHCP make their own transport arrangements like any other Student. However, if they are unable to do this for any reason Walsall Council may be able to assist. Such assistance is discretionary and is determined in accordance with the criteria set out in this document.

SEND Students who are aged 16 or over and who are unable to access or use public transport may be able to apply for travel assistance to support them in their education and training.

Students aged 16-18

Students who are aged 16 or over with an EHCP who are unable to use public transport and who have no other support available from parents/carers may be entitled to help with transport to ensure they are able to participate in education or training.

You can apply for transport support in your own right or your family/carers can apply on your behalf. Anyone who wishes to apply for transport support from Walsall Council will need to complete an application form each year, even if they have already received any form of travel assistance during the previous academic year.

The Council will assess the individual circumstances of each student and their need for transport support. We will do this in consultation with you, the student, your parents/carers and your school, college or training provider. This assessment will take account of the type, duration and location of the chosen course as well as the nature of each young person’s special educational needs, disability or learning difficulty. 

In most cases, we will offer students the opportunity to take part in an independent travel training programme. More information on Independent Travel Training can be seen in Walsall’s Local Offer pages.

Other travel options for students who are eligible for transport support include a personal transport budget; a travel pass; use of shared transport such as a minibus or, in exceptional circumstances, a taxi, usually shared, with or without an escort.

Contributions to the cost

Whatever the option, low-income students must pay £300 a year towards the cost. Those who do not meet the low-income criteria must pay £600 a year towards the cost. These contributions can be paid by instalments.

Students aged 19 or over

Transport support may also be extended above the age of 19 up to the age of 25, to enable eligible students to make further educational progress each year. This is for any continuing course begun on or before the student’s 19th birthday. 

Students who start a new course after the age of 19 may also be eligible for transport support.  Students must have an Education, Health and Care Plan. Students no longer have a Statement of Special Educational Needs or a Section 139a assessment. You will need to provide evidence to show why you feel the Council should make the travel arrangements rather than yourself or your family/carers. 
    
Alternatively, the Council may simply opt to pay all or part of any adult student’s reasonable travelling expenses.

Where the Council agrees to provide transport support, it will do so in the most cost effective way that takes account of the needs of the student and the best use of resources. The student’s eligibility for support with transport will be routinely reassessed by the Council each year.
    
Notwithstanding the preceding provisions of this policy, the Council has a discretion to provide transport or transport support to any student aged 16 to 25 who resides in the borough, in exceptional circumstances, where there is no alternative means of addressing the transport needs of the student in question, The Council will judge each case on its merits and the onus is on the application to explain why the exercise of the Council’s discretion would be justified.
    
Any transport which the Council provides to young people who are attending a course which they started after their 19th birthday (including those with EHC Plans) must be provided free of charge by the Council.

3. Concessionary fares and other tickets
Public Transport Assistance

Information is provided by TfWM. All prices quoted are correct as at May 2021.

The main bus operators in Walsall are National Express West Midlands, Arriva and Diamond.

Walsall borough is in Zones 4 and 5 of the West Midlands rail network.

Swift

This is a smart card for travel on public transport in the West Midlands. It provides cashless travel across the Network West Midlands area. You select how, when or where you pay for your travel, so whether you want to load it with Pay-As-You-Go credit or a season ticket, you just keep topping up the same card.

16-18 Photocard

The 16-18 photocard allows students in full-time education to purchase child-rate fares, child season tickets and monthly child direct debit tickets for the bus, metro or train. These are about half the adult fare. To apply for the photocard you need to apply to Network West Midlands online.

You can get your 16-18 photo card by obtaining a Unique Validation Code (UVC) from your school or college in September once you have enrolled. Without this UVC code you will not be able to apply for your 16-18 photo card.

The photo card costs £10.00 for the whole academic year (September to July) and entitles you to buy:

  • Child cash fares for travel to and from your school or college only; or
  • Child season tickets, which are valid for one week, four weeks or a term that can be used at any time, seven days a week; or
  • Monthly child direct debit tickets - the best-value option

Child Term tickets and Direct Debit tickets can be bought and used without a valid 16-18 photocard during August and September. You need to show your photo card when you buy single fares and season tickets and keep it with you while you are travelling. 

Student Fares - the network student ticket

You can buy a discounted student ticket if you are over 18 and in full-time education. Or, if you are 16-18 and in full-time education and are not eligible for the 16-18 photo card, you can buy a student ticket.    

Tickets are valid for one term and can be used as many times as you like. There are different options depending on how far you need to travel. 

For example, a network student ticket that gives unlimited travel on regional buses, Rail Zones 1-5 (including Walsall) and the Metro will cost £275 for the summer term. 

If you are travelling to and from a college outside the West Midlands you can pay a supplement to cover any additional rail travel.

You will need proof you’re in full-time education and 2 passport photos (or a jpg passport-style photo if you wish to buy online). You can:

There are some travel concessions that are only for students with special educational needs, medical needs or disabilities:

Disabled Person’s Pass

You may qualify for a free travel pass if your disability is long-term or expected to last at least 12 months.

It is available to blind and other disabled students who are permanently resident in the West Midlands. A free permit is provided for use on bus, rail and Midland Metro services. It is valid at the following times:

  • Mondays to Fridays : 09:30 to end of daytime service
  • Weekends and Bank Holidays: Anytime

There are also 'add-on' tickets that can be purchased to allow travel before 09:30.

More information from the Network West Midlands website.

NX West Midlands Scholar's Ticket

These Scholar’s tickets are not available for retail sale but may be provided for those students with special educational needs and/or disabilities through the Council. 

They are valid Monday to Friday term time only and for journeys to/from the school or college.  You can use them from start of daytime services up to 09:30 and from 15:30 up to 18:00 and, if in connection with the school or college curriculum, any time up to 22:15. 

Students with special educational needs and/or disabilities are also able to obtain a 16-18 photo card and a Network Scholar Season ticket that is valid on any operator’s bus, train and Metro service within the West Midlands metropolitan area.

For more information contact Walsall’s Transport Team:  01922 653761 or 01922 653762.

Apprentices

WorkWise supports eligible apprentices to overcome barriers to travel within the Network West Midlands area. Workwise travel support offers eligible jobseekers and apprentices 50% off selected NWM and NX bus travel passes for up to 3 months when they start a new job, or increase their hours to 16 or more per week if already employed.

Find out more about Workwise.

Email Workwise.

Bus operators’ tickets
  • National Express West Midlands – Travel cards and Term Plus

National Express West Midlands offer a range of tickets for young people between the ages 16-18, so long as they have a TfWM 16-18 photo card. There is also a Direct Debit option that does not require a TfWM 16-18 photo card, just proof from the student’s school or college that they are in full-time education.

Travel cards are available for 1 week, 4 weeks and as Term Plus. They can be used all day, every day, as many times as you want.

The Black Country Faresaver, the Term Network passes and the Regional Travel card are also available to students 18 and over in full-time education (minimum of 12 hours).

One example of this is the Student Black Country Faresaver ticket. This is valid on National Express West Midland buses only in the Black Country area. It is valid all day, seven days a week and is available to students who are not entitled to a 16-18 photocard but are still in full time education. A ticket for the summer term costs £146.90.

  • Diamond Network Termlink

The Network Termlink Student ticket is valid on Diamond buses across the West Midlands and costs £250.00 a term.

  • Arriva

An Arriva West Midlands student ticket offers unlimited travel on Arriva buses only in the county area for £530.00 per academic year.

4. Information, advice and support
Courses

For choice of courses, visit UCAS Progress. This gives information on the range of courses in your chosen area of study that are provided by schools, colleges and training providers in your local area, or further afield.

16 to 19 Bursary Fund

If you are aged between 16 and 19 and need some help with the costs of full-time education or training, you can apply to your school, college or training provider for financial assistance from the 16 -19 Bursary Fund.

Students most in need will be eligible for a bursary of £1200* a year. This includes people in care, care leavers, people receiving Income Support or Universal Credit and disabled people receiving both Employment Support Allowance and Disability Living Allowance. Young people eligible for Income Support will include some teenage parents, young people estranged from their families and those whose parents have died.  

Other students facing financial difficulties may also be able to claim a bursary to help with the costs of transport, food, equipment or other course-related costs. You have to apply directly to your school, college or training provider for a bursary. They decide on the amount you receive, when it is paid and what conditions they might attach, for example, linked to attendance.

For advice speak to student support services or your tutor, or visit the gov.uk bursary page.

*£1200 maximum bursary is correct at April 2021, but may be subject to change by the Education Funding Agency. 

Non-employed apprenticeship students

The learning provider is responsible for ensuring that non-employed apprentices have their reasonable expenses met in full where this is needed to overcome barriers to learning. These may include the costs of travelling to or from the place of learning or work placement. Please contact your learning provider for more information.

WorkWise also offer a free, day travel pass to attend apprenticeship interviews, and, once an apprenticeship is secured, a free travel pass for the first four weeks of your new apprenticeship.

Care to Learn (C2L)

C2L can help pay for childcare and travel costs for young parents (aged under 20 at the start of the course) who want to continue their education or training and need help with the cost of travel and childcare. You cannot claim if you are a paid apprentice or are doing a higher education course at university. 

Find out more about Care to Learn.

A*Stars

Walsall Council has developed an Active Sustainable Travel and Road Safety programme (A*Stars) which encourages a ‘modal shift’ to more environmentally friendly forms of transport and aims to increase road safety awareness. As part of this programme, schools are encouraged to adopt action plans to develop initiatives throughout the academic year. This information is published on the  A*Stars website

Through the development of the Sustainable Mode of Travel Strategy, a range of initiatives to promote and improve road safety, and sustainable travel modes to reduce car use on journeys, to and from school, have been introduced. These included measures to encourage more children and families to walk, cycle and use public transport on the school journey. There are initiatives for secondary schools, including Drive 2 Arrive for pre-drivers and new, young drivers, and advanced cycle training.  Further initiatives covering post-16 students at secondary schools will be available as part of the 2019/20 A*Stars programme.

West Midlands Network

West Midlands Network is the West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority and is responsible for developing and promoting public transport across the West Midlands metropolitan area. They produce the Network West Midlands transport map that gives information on all bus operators, routes, rail and metro services.

An online journey planner is also available or via the NetNav and New WM Apps.
 

Contacts

West Midlands Network

16 Summer Lane, Birmingham, B19 3SD

Phone: 0845 303 6760

www.networkwestmidlands.com

 

Travel West Midlands

51 Bordesley Green, Birmingham, B9 4BZ

Phone: 0121 254 7272

Email Travel West Midlands

www.travelwm.co.uk

5. Independent travel training

Walsall’s Special Schools and Colleges may provide independent training for their students.

Walsall Council has an Independent Travel Training scheme for young people in the borough. A travel training programme is offered to those young people for whom it is appropriate. 

More information on Independent Travel Training can be seen in Walsall’s Local Offer pages. Contact the Transport Team, Walsall Children’s Services on 01922 653761 or 653762.

6. When should students apply for transport support?
Bursaries

You should discuss these with your learning provider, ideally in the academic term leading up to the start of your course.

Public transport assistance

Applications for 16-18 photo card are only available from your new school or college; you will not be able to apply for one until you enrol. They are available online. Term tickets can be purchased in September and can be used without the photo card itself until 30 September. A photo card must be in place by 1 October.

Special educational needs and disabilities

If you feel you may still qualify for transport assistance, contact the transport team in the academic term before the start of your course. You are likely to be offered independent travel training if this is appropriate for you. Your eligibility for transport support will be reassessed each year by the Council.

7. What help can learners apply for if they need to travel to a course that is beyond their local authority area?

Concessions detailed in this policy may only apply to journeys within the West Midlands metropolitan area. However, some colleges provide a bus service for their students.

The Council will assess the individual circumstances of each student with special educational needs or disabilities and their need for transport support where those students attend a course that is outside the Walsall area, if this is the nearest appropriate learning provider.

Students who need to travel to a course outside the borough of Walsall should contact Walsall Children’s Services Transport Team on 01922 653761 or 653762.

8. What help is available for learners who attend a college that is beyond daily travelling distance and they need to stay away?

Some pupils with an Education Health and Care Plan attend residential schools or colleges that are outside Walsall borough. The transport needs of these students will be assessed by the Council to determine the level of transport support required.
    
A national Residential Support Scheme provides help with the accommodation costs of students aged 16 and over, who are studying to Level 2 or 3 for 16 hours a week for at least 10 weeks duration and who need to live away from home because their course is not available locally.

Ring the national helpline 0800 121 8989 or read about the residential support scheme webpage on gov.uk.

9. Complaints

If you have a complaint or wish to lodge an appeal against a decision relating to transport then in the first instance you should follow your learning provider’s complaints/appeals procedure.

However, if your complaint relates to transport support which has been provided by Walsall Council under this policy, or if the decision which you wish to appeal against was made by the Council under this policy, then you should write to:

The Transport Manager

Walsall Children’s Services

Civic Centre

Darwall Street

Walsall

WS1 1TP

Phone: 01922 653761 or 653762

Email the SEN transport manager

Your complaint will be investigated by a reviewing officer and you will be notified of the outcome.

The notification will include details of how to lodge an appeal though the Council if the complaint is not upheld.

10. Appeal process

If you wish to lodge an appeal against a decision about transport or transport support which has been made by the Council, then there is a two stage process as follows:

Stage one: Review by a senior officer

A parent/carer/young adult has 20 working days from receipt of the Council decision to make a written request to the Council asking for a review of the decision.

The written request should detail why the parent/carer/young adult believes the Council’s decision should be reviewed and give details of any personal and/or family circumstances the parent/carer/young adult believes should be considered when the Council’s decision is reviewed.

Within 20 working days of receipt of the parent’s/carer’s/young adult’s written request for a stage 1 review, a senior officer of the Council shall review the original decision and send the parent/carer/young adult a detailed written notification of the outcome of their review, setting out the following details:

  • the nature of the decision reached
  • how the review was conducted (including the standard followed e.g. national Road Safety standards and guidance)
  • information about other departments and/or agencies that were consulted as part of the process
  • what factors were considered
  • the rationale for the decision reached
  • information about how the parent/carer/young adult can escalate their case to stage two (if appropriate)
Stage two: Review by an independent appeal panel

A parent/carer or young adult has 20 working days from their receipt of the Council's stage one written decision to make a written request to the Council to escalate the matter to stage two.

Within 40 working days of receipt by the Council of the parents/carers/young adult’s stage 2 written request the Council will convene an independent appeal panel to consider written and verbal representations from both the parents/carers/young adult and officers involved in the case and give a detailed written notification of the outcome, setting out the following details: 

  • the nature of the decision reached
  • how the review was conducted (including the standard followed e.g. National Road Safety guidance and standards)
  • information about other departments and/or agencies that were consulted as part of the process
  • what factors were considered
  • the rationale for the decision reached
  • information about the parent’s/carer’s/young adult’s right to complain to the Local Government Ombudsman (see below) or where applicable, the Secretary of State

The independent appeal panel members should be independent of the process to date and suitably experienced, to ensure that a balance is achieved between meeting the needs of the parents/carers/young adult concerned and the Council, and that road safety requirements are complied with and that no student is placed at unnecessary risk.

Local Government Ombudsman

Parents/carers/young adults have a right of complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO), but only if there is evidence of a failure by the Council to comply with the procedural rules or if there are any other irregularities in the way in which their appeal has been handled.

Secretary of State for Education

Young persons of sixth form age or their families can also complain to the Secretary of State for Education by contacting the DfE on gov.uk. Any complaint should outline the case, set out the decision taken by the Council and include any other relevant documentation (such as any advice or decision made by he LGO). 

Judicial review

If the complainant considers the decision of the independent panel to be flawed on public law grounds, the complainant may also apply to the courts for judicial review. 

Policy dated: May 2021.

Covid-19 guidance for operators

Guidance first issued May 2020

Updated 12th June 2020

Updated 24th August 2020

Following Government guidelines published 2 July 2020, social distancing will not apply on dedicated school transport.

Walsall categorises secondary and primary schools as whole school bubbles, except for Jane Lane and Castle Business School.

Before offering your services

Consider, is it appropriate to do so?

Managers will need to complete a risk assessment for all drivers and PAs prior to returning to work on a vehicle.

Ask your drivers and PAs:

Do you have any of the following symptoms?

  • High temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • New, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • Loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you've noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

Use the symptom-checker on the NHS website for the most up to date guidance.

If  the answer is ‘yes’, inform the driver/PA they will need to self-isolate and get a coronavirus test.  They will not be able to drive/work until they have recovered from their symptoms and completed 14 days of self-isolation.

Are you, or anyone in your household, in a high-risk group?

Use the NHS website to check high risk groups.
If ‘yes’, review their condition and ensure they are medically fit to work by GP letter.

DBS

Existing DBS Scheme rules apply.  If drivers/PAs are transporting children on behalf of the council they must have an enhanced DBS for working with children.

Delivery of goods only (for example, shopping, medicines or other items) does not require DBS membership.

Health and safety

The safety of staff is imperative and must be maintained at all times.  Health and safety guidance, training and risk assessments have been communicated to managers and staff.

Refer to the Covid-19 risk assessment for full guidance on safe operating practices and control measures.  These include:

Hygiene
  • Wash hands regularly throughout the day for a minimum of 20 seconds and apply hand sanitiser
  • Wash thoroughly including fronts, backs, nails, and between fingers
  • Personal hand sanitiser (minimum 60% alcohol content) dispensers will be issued to all staff
  • Apply sanitiser regularly; for example, when entering and exiting a vehicle, before and after breaks, and at the start and end of each day
  • When handling wheelchairs, sanitise between manoeuvring each wheelchair.  Personal dispensers are re-fillable, clip on to work wear, and have an easy access flip top cap.  Do not share with colleagues
PPE

In general we do not recommend the use of gloves on SEND Transport.   The use of hand sanitiser or hand washing is far more effective. 

Gloves must be worn if medical intervention is required and, where possible and practical, they should be nitrile/latex gloves.

Gloves are single use and should be changed after hand washing.  They should be issued daily and changed if they become soiled and/or torn. 

Face coverings

The Government asks transport operators in England to make wearing face coverings a requirement of using public transport from 15 June 2020 for those over 11 years of age. 

For passengers on Home to School Transport it is not a requirement for SEND pupils; however, if a pupil chooses to wear a face covering then this will be encouraged.

Staff allocation and resourcing

We will maintain same teams where practical and operationally viable to do so.

Vehicle hygiene and cleaning advice

To help reduce possible spread of the virus amongst passengers and your staff, please clean key areas as often as possible. Clean surfaces regularly with sanitising wipes or disinfectant spray.

Focus on high contact areas of the vehicle:

  • Door handles (exterior and interior)
  • Handrails/grab handles
  • Headrests/armrests
  • Seat backs
  • Seatbelts (tongue/buckle/webbing)
  • Driver controls (e.g. steering wheel, gearstick, handbrake, indicators, push buttons etc.) if drivers share vehicles in your fleet
  • Shared mobile phones or radio handsets (be careful using liquids on electronic devices)

We recommend cleaning before the first passenger boards and after all passengers have alighted at the destination, on each journey.  The Government's cleaning recommendations are available online.

When cleaning your vehicle: 

  • take care with the amount of water/disinfectant being used as too much will make interior fabrics damp
  • maintain good ventilation during cleaning and journeys
  • be careful not to breathe in if you use disinfectant spray
  • make sure wet floors and surfaces are dried before passengers board

If you have to manoeuvre wheelchairs, clean the wheelchair handles and brake levers prior to pushing the wheelchair.  

If installing car seats or booster seats, clean the hard surface areas (e.g. outer shell, buckles) before installing in the vehicle and clean them after use.

Driver/PA personal hygiene

Face coverings and gloves must be worn when working in enclosed spaces.

Drivers/PAs can reduce the risk of getting and spreading the virus by:

  • maintaining good hand hygiene (washing hands with soap and water or alcohol hand sanitiser)
  • avoiding direct hand contact with eyes, nose and mouth
  • using tissues to catch coughs and sneezes (or cough/sneeze into the crook of your elbow) and disposing of tissues in a bin immediately
  • using a facial covering of the mouth and nose, made of cloth or other textile (not surgical/medical masks).  It would be a good idea to notify passengers in advance that a driver/PA is wearing a face covering to avoid any surprise at pick-up time.  All items should be washed after use

Drivers should wash their hands with soap and water as often as is practical and be equipped with hand sanitiser, disposable tissues and a bag or container, into which used or potentially contaminated material can be dropped for secure disposal later.

Drivers/PAs should use disposable gloves:
  • Clean your hands before putting them on
  • Change gloves if they are heavily soiled or torn, and at the end of each shift
  • Try not to touch surfaces if gloves are contaminated (for example, after sneezing); otherwise follow cleaning procedures
  • Do not touch your face with contaminated gloves
  • Never reuse gloves once removed

See how to take off disposable gloves without touching the outer surface

Drivers/PAs using a face covering

When applying or removing the face covering, it is important to wash your hands first and avoid touching your face. After each use, the face covering must be washed at 60 degrees C or disposed of safely.

At the end of a shift

Drivers should minimise possible contamination in their own home.  The following advice is based on that given to NHS staff returning home after their shifts:

  • Wipe down vehicle steering wheel, controls and handles
  • Enter your home, touching as little as possible. Do not embrace anyone in the house just yet
  • Drop your shoes, clothes, keys, bag, glasses, pens and anything else you have brought inside from your vehicle, into a plastic crate or box. Wipe them down with a damp soapy cloth. Be careful with any gadgets like mobile phones
  • Go to the sink or shower, touching as little as possible on the way. Get someone else to open doors for you, if possible. Wash or shower, especially hands, arms and face with soap and hot water

Carriage of passengers

Cars

Wherever possible, passengers should be verified as belonging to the same bubble or household before they travel together.  The exception to this is where it is not possible to provide additional provision and/or a passenger requires a PA and the PA has been agreed by Walsall Council.

All vehicles

Follow these guidelines to minimise the risk of contamination:

  • If passengers haven’t come out to the vehicle at boarding time, the driver should wait the standard 5 minutes and then contact their base for further instruction. Drivers/PAs should not approach the house doors, knock or ring doorbells. Stay with the vehicle at boarding/alighting time
  • Drivers/PAs should open the vehicle door, stand back 2m and close the door after the passenger is aboard
  • In vehicles with one row of back seats, the passenger should be seated in the rear nearside seat, diagonally behind the driver
  • In vehicles with two or more rows of back seats, the passenger should be seated in the rearmost row
  • If a passenger is unable to fasten their seatbelt on their own, encourage a parent/carer from the same household to do it. If this is not possible, and as a last resort, approach the passenger from the side where the seatbelt buckle is located (don’t lean across the passenger) and fasten the seatbelt for them, minimising contact. Do not, under any circumstances, drive off without all passengers wearing seatbelts
  • Ensure good ventilation during the journey
  • Remain forward facing whenever possible when in the vehicle

Loading of vehicles should be done with consideration to the proximity of seating; for example, the first in should be seated at the back, and the last in should be seated at the front.  The child at the front should get off first, especially on coaches.  Seating plans will be provided.

In smaller vehicles children must not climb over other pupils to access seating.

Loading for Jane Lane and Castle Business School

As these schools are a mix of primary, secondary and post-16 pupils, loading and unloading should be carried out in a specific order.  Parents will be asked to social distance at the stops and will be advised of the protocol.

At each stop on the inward journey:

  • secondary and post-16 pupils should be loaded first and to the rear of the vehicles
  • primary age pupils should be loaded last and seated at the front of the vehicle

On arrival at school the primary children should disembark first, followed by the secondary and post-16 pupils.

At school on the homeward journey:

  • load the secondary and post-16 pupils first and load to the rear
  • load primary pupils at the front in marked seats

At the stops, ensure that the primary age pupils disembark before the secondary and post-16 pupils.

Passenger assistants (PAs)

PA duties may require close contact with those requiring the escort. 

If there is no physical, behavioural or medical need to sit beside the passenger being escorted then the PA should sit on the opposite side of the same row of seats.  

If there are two or more rows of back seats, the PA should sit in the nearside seat, diagonally behind the driver with the passenger in the offside seat in the back row, diagonally behind the PA.

In some cases, it may be necessary to sit beside and have physical contact with the passenger being escorted.  PAs should follow any additional advice given by education or social work staff over and above the basic advice in the driver personal hygiene section above. 

Deliveries/carriage of goods

Drivers may be redeployed to deliver meals, food, medicines, foodbank boxes or other essential items to help vulnerable people in the community. Special instructions will be issued by those arranging transport.  

Some basic considerations are:

  • Recipients should be asked to name the best drop-off point e.g. behind the gate or on the doorstep
  • The driver should not touch the door or ring the bell with a bare hand – use a disposable tissue/glove as a barrier. The driver should then step back from the doorway and remain at least 2m away
  • Any conversation with the recipient should be kept brief and at least 2m separation maintained at all times
  • Drivers must not enter the property unless they have been given specific instruction to do so
  • Drivers should not accept any cash or other items from the recipient
  • Delivery crates/bags should not be taken back by the driver for re-use

Reporting incidents

If a child you have transported or been in contact with, is reported as having symptoms please report it to the school and the transport team at the earliest possibility and seek medical advice.

Ordinary cleaning will kill any virus, for example soap and water, alcohol sprays, normal cleaning agents and disinfectants.

Where a vehicle may have been contained by a confirmed case then, where possible, it should be parked up for a minimum 72 hours before being deep cleaned and put back into service.

What to do if someone develops symptoms of coronavirus in a transport setting

If anyone becomes unwell with the symptoms of coronavirus in a transport setting they should be sent home and advised to follow the latest guidance on the NHS website.

You can find advice on the NHS website or by calling 111.

Call 999 if a person is seriously ill or injured, or their life is at risk. 

Do not visit the GP, pharmacy, urgent care centre or a hospital.

There is currently no requirement to self-isolate if you have been in proximity with someone showing coronavirus symptoms in the workplace and have been following social distancing measures.

Workers should wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds after any contact with someone who is unwell.

It is not necessary to close the transport setting or send any staff home.

Accessing a coronavirus test

If you are advised to take a test, visit the NHS website for guidance, or call 119.

Useful links

Covid-19 information and guidance for non-healthcare settings
Latest Government coronavirus advice
Government guidelines for passenger transport

Email the SEN transport team
Email Walsall Public Health

When to apply

We need to receive your application before 1 August. If you're successful, you will receive your bus pass in time for the new academic year in September.

You need to apply each year for bus passes, post-16 and 19 transport.  

You’ll also need to apply if you change school or educational environment, or move home.

Applications for children with SEND

The SEN team processes applications for children with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND). This may take up to 10 days because of the specialist nature of arranging transport for children with SEND.

If your child has an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan and is staying in the same school with no change of circumstances, you do not need to re-apply.

If there is a change of circumstances, you’ll need to tell the SEN team. We’ll then carry out a new transport assessment.

Email the SEN team.

Late applications

We always aim to get your travel assistance in place for the start of the academic term. We cannot guarantee this is if your application is late. It is up to you to get your child to school until you receive travel assistance.

Nearest suitable school

This is the nearest school to your home, with places available, that provides education suitable for the age, ability and any special educational needs of your child. It might not be one of your preferred schools.

Walsall Council's where I live function will help you locate your nearest school. This is a good place to start when you’re deciding which schools to apply to, because you may not be entitled to travel assistance to a school that is further away. 

We use QRoutes and Ordnance Survey maps to measure the statutory home to school walking distance.

Moving home

Moving further away does not automatically mean that you’re entitled to travel assistance. If your child’s current school is not the nearest suitable school to your new home, you may not be eligible to receive travel assistance.

Before you move, you'll need to give us evidence of your new address (for example, a letter from you estate agent) and tell us when you are moving.

It is your responsibility to get your children to get to and from school until travel assistance is in place and confirmed, or if travel assistance is refused by the council.

Lost bus pass

We do not provide free bus pass replacements, and advise you to keep the receipt or proof of purchase safe. 

If you have a free bus pass, you can protect it with PassProtect for £10.00. This will give you one free replacement, and any additional replacements for £5.00.

Without PassProtect, you may have one replacement for £15.00 per term.

You will need to contact National Express West Midlands to arrange your replacement.

Personal transport budget

We base your personal transport budget on the mileage from your child’s home to the school on the outward journey, and from the school to your child’s home on the return journey.

The council does not pay for any onward or return journey for the parent or carer. The current mileage rate (2020) is 45p per mile.  

If you travel over 5,000 miles transporting your child to school each year, you may be able to get an additional supplement.