Campaign launched to save transport at special needs schools

Nadia with her daugher Chloe.

Nadia with her daugher Chloe. - Credit: Archant

A campaign has been launched calling on Cambridgeshire County Council to reverse its proposal to cut after-school transport for special schools in the district.

Councillor Dr Nik Johnson, district councillor for St Neots East, has started a petition in the hope that the council will change its mind as the proposals are still out for consultation.

Cambridgeshire County Council currently offers after-school transport for special schools, in addition it is required to provide transport for the beginning and end of the school day.

Last month it was announced that the council is facing an overspend in its high needs education funding and its annual budget, and that after-school transport, which it provides for five schools is a "discretionary spend".

But Nadia Bowes, whose daughter Chloe attends Samuel Pepys School, in St Neots, has said after-school transport is "vital" for students' well-being.

Nadia said: "After school clubs are often the only opportunity that our children get to spend time with friends and peers outside of the structured, task and target orientated school day.

"After school clubs provide a safe, familiar and accessible place for our children to simply hang out with their peers with staff that are familiar, skilled and trained in their needs.

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"Removing or charging for the transport will make attendance at after school clubs difficult or impossible for many families."

Cllr Johnson said: "The Cambridgeshire County Council children and young people committee is scheduled to take the final decision in April. We want to present this petition and speak at that meeting to convince the committee that the continuation of this invaluable transport service is in the best interests of these children and families and for the community."

A spokesperson for the county council said: "A proposal to consult on the removal of discretionary support for transport to after school clubs for some young people with special educational needs and disabilities was approved on January 21.

"The current arrangements are not equitable as transport is only provided to children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) attending clubs at five out of the seven area special schools in Cambridgeshire. Children and young people with social, emotional or behavioural difficulties (SEMH) attending one of the schools specialising in this provision do not receive support to enable them to attend after school clubs nor do those with an educational health and care plan (EHCP) who attend mainstream schools."

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More details about the consultation can be found here: