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You may be aware of significant staffing issues that are affecting services across the UK due to the numbers of staff away from work with the Omicron variant of COVID-19. Since the start of term we have experienced these shortages across our services, but in particular within the passenger transport team affecting both drivers and escorts. Currently there are approximately 20 staff affected by this. We have also been informed by our Public Health colleagues that we are likely to see the peak of infections within the next 10-14 days. This is likely to have a further impact upon service delivery.

What does this mean for SEND Transport?

The team are working tirelessly at short notice to try and maintain routes to and from school with minimum disruption to our children, young people and families. Sometimes this is not possible, and alternative arrangements need to be put in place. For example, yesterday afternoon we were informed of sickness levels that meant 5 routes were impacted upon for travel to and from provisions today. Working closely with our school settings we have been able to make arrangements to ensure all children and young people on the affected routes were able to get to school today. This did mean later pick up times, earlier return times and a shortened school day but we are sure that you would agree that this is preferable to not being able to attend school at all. We do realise the impact that this has on our children and you as families. We want to assure you that when we need to make changes at short notice these are not done without having explored all options, including potential redeployment of colleagues from other areas of the council, these really are the last resort.

How can you help?

We know that many children and young people are also off school due to COVID-19 and other illnesses particularly at this time of the year. If your child is unwell and will not be going to school please let us know as soon as possible. This will mean that potentially we can combine routes or move passenger assistants onto routes where we have staffing issues. Please email the Passenger Transport Team (educationtransport@swindon.gov.uk) ensuring that in the subject header you put: Transport Cancellation. This will help us to pick these emails out as urgent and action.

Thank you for your support and flexibility in helping us to manage this fast changing situation.

Drivers leaflets

Here are some guidance notes and top tips on how to support children and young people whilst they are in your vehicle.

Leaflet for school transport drivers

Leaflet for all other transport drivers

Transport letter to parents

Letter to parents with updated guidance on transporting children to and from their education placement.

Transport communication

During the summer the Passenger Transport Team has moved. The service was previously managed within the Operations section of the Council, but most of their operational delivery related to Children, specifically those with Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND). Therefore operationally it made sense to move the service into Children's Services (SEND Operations) and this was agreed and is effective from 1st September 2021. We are looking forward to working together to further improve our service delivery and with our Children, Young People and their families to develop our travel offer. We are sure that our families will welcome this move and we look forward to working with you.

This is a move that is very much welcomed by Swindon SEND Families Voices, with Chair Person Jacqui Watt commenting “We are really pleased to hear that the Transport team will now be managed within Children's Services. We are confident that this will bring more opportunities for working together and find solutions for the challenges we face as families of children and young people with SEND."

Page updated: 22/02/2022