Special Educational Needs Disability (SEND) Home to School Travel Support Parent and Carer's Handbook

Special Educational Needs Disability (SEND) Home to School Travel Support Parent and Carer's Handbook

Who is eligible for SEND Transport?

Whilst parents have the ultimate responsibility to ensure that their children attend school, the local authority has a statutory duty to assist with travel arrangements to support eligible children and young people aged 5 to 16 who have:

  • a Special Educational Need (SEND) Statement or an EHC Plan, a disability or mobility problem (including temporary conditions) if this means that they could not reasonably be expected to walk to school
  • a medical condition that may be short or longer term, but which makes it difficult for parents to discharge their duties without support.

We also provide discretionary travel support for some:

  • children under 5 with special educational needs or disabilities travelling to specialist primary school nurseries who meet the published criteria at the link below.

  • young people over the age of 16 with special educational needs accessing specialist further education and they meet the published criteria.

The support could be provided in one of the following ways:

  • Personal Travel Budget (PTB)

  • A travel permit for public transport

  • Transport to and from school in a mini-bus, people carrier or taxi. All vehicles will have the necessary adaptations for the specific needs of the child.

How often do I apply for travel assistance?

You will need to complete an application form each year. This ensures that the information we hold on our records is up to date and relevant to your child’s changing needs.

If your child is remaining at their current school for the next academic year, or you know which school they will be transferring to we will need you to submit your application forms by the end of the spring term. (Easter Holidays)

However if you do not know which school your child will be attending as a decision has not been made, please do not worry that this will impact on your child’s right to access travel support for September as all eligible children and young people will get appropriate travel support. All we ask is that you make the SEND Travel support team aware of your situation and apply as soon as you have the information.

If you need help with your application form, please contact SEND Transport on 0191 2774646 and we will be happy to help you or signpost you to an organisation that can support you.

How do I contact the SEND Transport Team?

You can contact the SEND Transport team using the contact details below during business hours only. If you contact the service outside of business hours, please leave a message with your name and contact details and a member of the team will respond when the service reopens.

SEND Transport business hours
Term time – Monday to Friday 7.30am – 4.30 pm
School holidays – Monday to Friday 9.00am – 3.30pm

Christmas holidays - The service is closed throughout the Christmas school holiday period

SEND Transport
Newcastle City Council
3rd Floor
Civic Centre 
Newcastle upon Tyne

Email sendtransportservice@newcastle.gov.uk
Phone 0191 277 4646

When you ring you will speak to a member of the business support staff who will try to deal with your enquiry. If this is not possible, your enquiry details will be passed to a member of the SEND Transport team who will contact you at the earliest possible opportunity. If your query is urgent, it will be taken straight to the SEND Transport Officer or to a manager who can deal with the situation.

The team are happy to help, and they will need to understand what is happening. They will calmly take details from you to make sure that they can help you.

Parent carers need to ensure that in their dealings with drivers, travel escorts and SEND Transport staff, that they also remain calm and courteous. Any threatening or aggressive behaviour towards staff is taken very seriously and may result in door to door transport being withdrawn. The only assistance offer that would remain in this instance would be a personal travel budget.

If you have a problem with any aspect of the service, you are receiving from SEND Transport please contact us at on 0191 2774646 at the earliest opportunity so we can address any issues you are experiencing. If we don’t know there is a problem, we are unable to help.

The SEND Transport Team members are:
Nicola Jones – SEND Transport Officer
Sara Winner – SEND Transport Assistant
Margaret Oliver – SEND Transport Assistant
Michelle Hepburn – SEND Transport Assistant
Christine Baldwin – Service Improvement Assistant
Deborah Coutts – Service Improvement Assistant

How will the driver / travel escort know how to transport my child?

We work closely with all schools and professionals involved with your child. They give us as much relevant information as they can about how we can support your child’s needs while they are on transport. More importantly we need to get information from you.

The information you provide in the application form is passed on to the provider to ensure that we can support your child or young person in the most appropriate way possible.

The SEND Transport team will ensure that drivers and travel escorts receive the information which you have provided about your child and that they are appropriately trained.

What type of training do the drivers and travel escorts have?

All drivers and escorts must submit an enhanced DBS certificate that is cleared to the highest safeguarding requirements. This is monitored by the SEND Transport team and must be renewed every three years. The date on the certificate is recorded and if it is due to expire before the end of the academic year the driver/escort is removed from a route unless the renewal has been signed off by the team.

All drivers have passed the required driving tests and are appropriately licensed. This is monitored by the SEND Transport team during quality assurance visits.

All drivers have passed the required driving tests and are appropriately licensed. This is monitored by the SEND Transport team during quality assurance visits.  All drivers and travel escorts must complete:

•    Level 1 Safeguarding Children Training;
•    Basic First Aid

Drivers and travel escorts are required to participate in any relevant courses to assist them in their role.

Drivers and travel escorts must also attend a mandatory briefing session regarding their roles and responsibilities of being a driver/travel escort, along with an overview of the council’s allegations’ policy and procedures.

How do I know who the driver/travel escort will be?

Before a route begins, the provider will contact you to arrange to meet you and your child.  If you do not hear from the transport provider you should phone or email the SEND Transport team.

Why is transport sometimes late in picking up/dropping off my child?

Unfortunately, this can happen, there are various unavoidable reasons why transport may be delayed including:

  • Traffic conditions / road works
  • Weather conditions
  • Breakdowns
  • Potential delays in pickups if a child becomes ill during transport

When the SEND Transport team are informed of this, they or the provider will try and let parents/carers know as soon as possible. 

SEND Transport will make every effort to fulfil their statutory duty to provide home to school transport on all days that children and young people are required to attend school. However, on very rare occasions due to unforeseen circumstances we may be unable to provide transport temporarily, if suitably trained staff are not available to offer cover (for example, staff illness, vehicles breaking down etc).  We will inform families at the earliest opportunity and make every effort to find a solution by identifying the best way for families to use a personal travel budget during this period.

Can transport pick up / drop off my child at an address other than the home address?

Pick up and drop off times are determined by the start and end of the school day. Transport is provided from home to school only, therefore transport cannot pick up or drop off your child at any other address or at any other time of the day for any reason.

If my child isn’t ready at the agreed pick up time, can transport wait?

Transport can only wait for 3 minutes otherwise it will make the vehicle late for the other children on the route.

Can the driver / travel escort come to the house to collect my child?

It is your responsibility to take and collect your child to and from the vehicle. Drivers and travel escorts are not required to leave the vehicle and drivers should not sound their horn.

What if my child requires a car seat or harness for them to travel safely?

If a car seat is required for the child, it is the parent’s responsibility to provide and fit the car seat in the vehicle. 

If your child requires a harness to travel safely SEND Transport will supply this.  These are returned to us when a child either no longer requires it, has outgrown it or moves route. They are also returned to us at the end of the summer term so that we can ensure that they are in good order and we replace any that are showing signs of wear.

What happens when transport drops off my child?

Please ensure a responsible adult collects your child from the vehicle on their return home. If no one appears to collect your child after 3 minutes, the driver / travel escort will notify the SEND Transport team. If we are unable to contact parent / carer, or the emergency contact provided by you, we will contact children’s social care who will determine the appropriate action. This is always a last resort and we will try everything possible before taking this action. 

However, if this happens on more than one occasion, your child may be removed from transport for a set period. Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility and we have a duty to pass on information to children’s social care and other appropriate agencies if this occurs.

Why wasn’t I given notice transport arrangements were going to change?

Where possible SEND Transport try to give notice to parents and carers that their child’s transport is going to change. We recognise that change will affect pupils on transport.  Unfortunately there are occasions where transport has to be changed at very short notice, for example if a driver or travel escort are ill or the vehicle breaks down which are circumstances beyond our control.  We do make every effort to inform parents/carers if we are made aware of when this happens.

How can parents and carers keep us informed about your child’s needs?

To help keep transport running smoothly, there are several ways parents/carers can help us.  You must inform SEND Transport:

•    If you have any problems or concerns regarding your child’s transport, or with the driver or travel escort. 
•    If you change your telephone number
•    If you are planning to move house, please give us at least one weeks’ notice so that we can check that your child is still eligible for transport and make the necessary changes to your child’s transport if applicable.
•    When your child is unable to attend school for any reason so that we can inform the transport provider.  This is especially important if your child has sole transport.
•    If there are any changes to your child’s medical, physical or emotional needs. 
•    Or if anything has happened within your child’s circumstances that may impact on them and how they manage while on transport. (for example, A family member who is ill, a bereavement loss of a pet etc) 

Promoting Positive Behaviour

For those children who can, make sure that your child understands the standard of behaviour required whilst on transport.

Transport maybe withdrawn if a young person’s behaviour is persistently disruptive and compromises the safety of the vehicle. If transport is suspended or withdrawn the Local Authority’s offer of assistance will be in the form of a Personal Travel Budget.

How does my child’s medication get transported?

Travel escorts are not allowed to give medication on transport however please alert the travel escort if your child has prescription medication he/she needs to take to school. All medication should be in the pharmacy container it was dispensed in with the child’s name and the name of the medicine. All medication should be signed for at the school.

How can I check that drivers and travel escorts are authorised to transport my child?

All SEND drivers and travel escorts are issued with a Newcastle City Council SEND Transport ID badge which will include a photo, an expiry date and the name of provider they work for.

If the badge is not visible and the driver or escort cannot produce it the school staff, contact our service to verify their suitability to undertake the route. If they are not registered with us, they will not be allowed to transport any children and a full investigation will take place.

Occasionally a driver and/or travel escort may have to be changed at short notice due to sickness, staff leaving etc. We always request that transport providers contact parents, and SEND Transport, as soon as possible to inform them of any changes.

It is the parent’s responsibility to check ID badges of drivers and/or travel escorts from home, especially if they have not previously transported their child.

If parents have any concerns please contact SEND Transport by calling 0191 2774646.

What is a Personal Travel Budget (PTB)?

PTBs enable families to arrange their child’s home to school travel arrangements in a way that suits their circumstances. It is a flexible resource which allows for your child to be able to attend more extra-curricular activities and increase their life skills.

How much is a Personal Travel Budget?

The PTB is calculated based on the distance between home and school for the days that your child attends school.

Travel budget amounts per mile are on a scale according to your child’s need, starting at 40p and moving up to 70p and over 70p to cover exceptional need. You are able to claim for 4 journeys per day to and from school which can be used in creative ways such as:-

Contribute towards:

  • Buying a travel pass for an adult to accompany the child to and from school;

  • Paying for a travel escort to walk with the child to school.

  • Assist with the cost of driving or cycling with your child to school.

  • Share travel arrangements with other parents.

  • Assist with the cost of childcare arrangements for siblings to allow parents to take their child to school.

Payments would be made from the council into the parents' designated bank account on either a 4 or 5 weekly basis. You will need to provide us with the appropriate bank details when they sign the agreement. If your child achieves 95% attendance you will receive a payment bonus at the beginning of August. This is based on actual attendance as well as absences that have been agreed by the school, so time taken off School for illness, medical appointments etc are authorised absences, unauthorised absences are usually things like holidays the school have informed you they will not authorise during term time or if you have not contacted them when your child has been absent. If you are unsure if an absence is authorised or unauthorised, please speak to your school for clarification.

Please contact SEND Transport on 0191 2774646 between 7.30am – 4.30pm, Monday to Friday where a member of the team will be happy to discuss your specific needs.

SEND Transport Service
3rd Floor
Civic Centre
Newcastle upon Tyne

Phone 0191 2774646 between 7.30am and 4.30pm
Email sendtransportservice@newcastle.gov.uk

This handbook has been produced by SEND Transport in partnership with independent Newcastle parent carer representatives
Updated April 2022

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