What if I'm not entitled?
Over 90% of pupils are not entitled to travel assistance. It is highly likely that you will need to make your own travel arrangements each day.
There is a range of travel support that you may find useful when planning the journey to school. For example:
Temporary vacant seat scheme
The temporary vacant seat scheme is where a vehicle we have hired may have more seats than we need for pupils entitled to free or subidised transport. However this has been suspended during the present Covid-19 emergency.
Do I have a right to review?
As recommended by the Department for Education the local authority has a 2 stage review and appeals process. The timings outlined below are recommended and not compulsory. The timings for responses may be extended if additional time is required to gather supporting information or delayed by school / college holidays.
Whilst we will always aim to respond as quickly as we can it may not be possbile to meet the timescales below at present due to the present Covid-19 emergency.
Please note: whilst the review and appeal process takes place you remain responsible for arranging and funding your own travel as you feel is necessary. You can appeal against a travel assistance decision based on:
- eligibility for travel assistance
- transport arrangements offered
- the distance measurement in relation to statutory walking distances
- the availability of the walking route
The responsibility to supply any supporting information for an application, review or appeal rests with the applicant. This will include information from outside agencies, which the applicant feels supports their request. However, if the parent can demonstrate that they are reasonably unable to do this, then the authority can take steps to try to locate this itself to ensure it has access to this information but this may cause a delay in dealing with your appeal. Please be aware the authority but may be limited as to what information it can obtain due to the Data Protection Act.
Stage 1 - review by a senior officer
To request a stage 1 review against a decision please complete (within 20 working days of your refusal) the online review request form and attach all your additional supporting information you wish to be considered.
You review request should explain why you consider the decision is wrong and present sufficient evidence to support your position, including any exceptional circumstances relevant at the time of your previous or present application.
Review or appeal requests will be considered applying our published data protection and fair processing notice.
A senior officer will review your case, considering if the law and policy have been properly applied and consider any exceptional circumstances you have outlined. We aim to make a stage 1 review decision within 20 working days and include within the decision letter:
- 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; and
- how to escalate your case to stage 2 (if appropriate).
Stage 2 - independent appeal panel
Parents have 20 working days from receipt of the local authority’s stage 1 written decision notification to make a written request to escalate the matter to stage 2. Within 40 working days of receipt of the request an independent appeal panel will consider the case. Parents will also be given the opportunity to make a verbal representation to the panel if they wish.
Within 5 working days of the panel meeting, a response will be provided setting out:
- the nature of the decision reached
- how the review was conducted (including the standard followed)
- 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 your right to put the matter to the local government ombudsman
The independent appeal panel members will be independent of the original decision-making process and include a senior officer of the SEND assessment and planning service (EHC) and representatives from the transport and the connected county and access to learning departments, to ensure a balance is achieved between meeting the needs of the parents and the local authority’s duty.
If at stage 2 the decision not to provide travel assistance is upheld, you will be informed of your right of complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman, but only if you consider that there was a failure to comply with the procedural rules or if there are any other irregularities in the way the appeal has been handled. If you consider the decision of the independent appeal panel to be flawed on public law grounds, you may also apply for judicial review.