Transport For Older SEN Pupils
We know that getting to school at the moment is the last thing on your mind but once we return to normality, parents of young adults with special education needs (SEN) will be disappointed to learn of a recent Court decision. In the case of Dexler v Leicestershire County Council (CC), the decision to offer different transport arrangements, to and from school, for 5-16 year olds and 16-18 year olds with SEN was held to be lawful.
On 7th April the Court of Appeal upheld the policy of Leicestershire CC to offer free transport for 5-16 year olds but for older pupils aged 16-18 years to only receive a personal transport budget (PTB) . It was acknowledged that the PTB would not necessarily cover all the costs of getting young adults with SEN to school. However, this was weighed against the savings to the Council’s budget of up to £800,000 pa. The Council had finite resources and had a legitimate aim, namely to save public money.
What about pupils over 18 years old with SEN? The Council’s policy did allow for funding of transport if it was deemed “necessary to facilitate attendance”. How this will be interpreted is yet to be seen but it looks as if the financial burden of bringing up children with SEN is not going to reduce anytime soon.
Whilst we all accept that Councils are under pressure to meet services, especially at this difficult time, this new policy does mean that families with older children with SEN will struggle even more to meet the costs of their child’s education post 16 years old; whether this policy will be adopted by other councils outside Leicestershire is yet to be seen but we know all Councils are under enormous financial pressure because of Covid 19. We hope this does not impact the rights of young adults with SEN to be educated.