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Transport Parental Engagement Sessions: You Said/We Did/Will Do

Page updated: 06/05/2022

Two parental engagement sessions were held in March. The objective of the sessions were to feed into a wider review of SEND Transport in Swindon and to move towards a flexible transport service that meets the changing needs of our children and young people. Discussions centred on: What works well and we need to keep What is not working well and we need to change. Thank you to everyone who attended the engagement sessions and those who contributed via email.

You Said: "Transport letters going out early – made the world of difference, less anxiety, more time to prepare." (click to expand)

We Did/Will Do: In August 2021 we sent out all letters to all parents. In 2022 we aim to have letters sent out by late July and this will become business as usual. There may be some late changes due to unforeseen circumstances but these will be the exception rather than the rule.

You Said: "Great to get the letters early but communication between transport and contractors could improve"

We Did/Will Do: All of our drivers and PA’s have been instructed to make no changes to any routes without permission from the Local Authority who are responsible for communicating to parents.

You Said: "SEND Service linking well and taking the lead with transport (telling our story once)."

We Did/Will Do: Transport joined the Children’s Services Directorate (SEND service) in September 2021 strengthening the relationships meaning the right people have the right information and an understanding of individual need.

You said: "On line application is great (could it have functionality to save as you go along)."

We Did/Will Do: This is an area that needs to be developed and we will take this back to our teams and look to develop this functionality

You Said: "Portal works well but can we have ability to save supporting evidence?"

We Did/Will Do: Plans are in development to add a pdf button to the portal meaning all support and evidence can be downloaded in pdf format.

You Said "Can we keep our PAs, they know the children well and we work well with them."

We Did/Will Do: We try and keep things consistent however there are times when changes to routes need to be made and this can include changes to PA’s. There is also a need to ensure that all routes are regularly reviewed to ensure that we are delivering an efficient and effective service which could result in a change of PA. There are also occasions where short term absence e.g. sickness, emergencies mean that we have to change at short notice and it is not always possible to communicate changes effectively. We do try and keep disruption to a minimum as we recognise the impact on our Children and Families.

You said: "It is frustrating when you don't know the name of your caseworker within the SEND Service team."

We Did/Will Do: We have published the names and case allocation of all EHCP Coordinators on the Swindon Local Offer - Meet the SEND Service page.

You Said: "Regular reviews of transport, not aware of options, needs to be a part of annual review process – include transport specific questions in the Parental/Young Persons contributions to the review."

We Did/Will Do: We are in the process of developing a range of travel options for children and young people. Part of this process is producing guidance for parents and SENCo’s and young people.

Transport should be discussed in Annual Reviews but this is often an area that is missed but it is critical that it is discussed as the option for the young person may need to change in line with their progress and to promote their independence.

You Said "Use school staff as PAs – works very well."

We Did/Will Do: We are working with some of our schools to see where their TA’s can support on some routes.

You Said: "Taxis – no end of issues, changing of drivers, rude, do not understand our children, can we not have more minibuses."

We Did/Will Do: We review our routes every year, taxi contracts can be problematic. We will always endeavour to use minibus contracts where possible. This is valuable feedback and will support our procurement of transport moving forward.

You Said: "Why can PTBs not be more flexible? I take my child to school but cannot do the return journey."

We Did/Will Do: PTB’s are as flexible as we can make them, however we cannot split travel arrangements where a PTB and a place on transport is requested as this is double funding. PTBs can be used to make arrangements for other children in a family so that the child with SEND can be taken to school by the parent.

You Said: "Drivers/PAs need a code of conduct and training – they do not know how to manage our children."

We Did/Will Do: There is a PA Code of Conduct in place; there is also a booklet that was designed by SSFV to support this further for Drivers and PAs. The issue with a Code of Conduct for Drivers is that we do not employ them so the Code of Conduct lies with the contractor. There is a training programme being devised for PAs.

You Said: "Parents/CYP also need a code of conduct."

We Did/Will Do: There is a code of conduct on the Swindon Local Offer - Swindon transport policy page but we will work with SSFV to co-produce a new code of conduct/transport agreement form which sets out clearly the parent’s responsibilities when working with our transport providers.

You Said: "Transport team to answer their phones, consistency of messages – families need to go via PAs/Drivers as cannot get hold of the office."

We Did/Will Do: We are currently working with ICT to look at options that allow a more flexible approach to management of calls, this is work in progress. We are also investigating alternative options for PAs/Drivers in respect of the communication devices.

You Said: "Length of journey times (an hour is too long)."

We Did/Will Do: There are statutory timeframes for both primary and secondary aged students who are transported. These are adhered to.

You Said: "Consistency across drivers – some will ask parents to take off vehicle/others do not – training issue."

We Did/Will Do: Agreed and this will be addressed with the contractors with immediate effect.

You Said: "Mobile phones – need to be provided to PAs not reliant upon their own."

We Did/Will Do: We are also investigating alternative options for PAs/Drivers in respect of the communication devices.

You Said: "Could you consider pick up points instead of door to door collection, won’t work for all but would work as part of an independent travel offer."

We Did/Will Do: Absolutely, this is a good idea and something that we will consider when we are working out the routes for September 2022.

You Said: "Can you keep to timings – my letter said my child would be picked up at 8.40am and it has always been 9am."

We Did/Will Do: Where possible we do try to keep to times but unfortunately we know that some routes can be affected by a number of factors including accidents; heavy traffic; another pupil being late coming out to the bus etc.

You Said: "Look at routes two children living 100 metres apart going to the same school on two different buses with pick up times an hour apart."

We Did/Will Do: Agreed this will be looked at, to provide reassurance this does happen but again there are numerous factors that the team must take into account when planning routes including the range of needs of the children on the buses as some children/young people are not able to travel together.

You Said: "Promote independence."

We Did/Will Do: One hundred percent, we are working on developing our independent travel offer as we want our children and young people to be independent and travel is a big factor in this. We have a range of ideas that we are working on and once we are in a position to share our independent travel offer we will do so.

You Said: "Little things mean a lot – we know our children use our knowledge."

We Did/Will Do: Agreed, you are the experts and we need to work as a team. Our Children and Young People have designed a travel passport which we will be rolling out during the summer in preparation for the new academic year. It is also vital that you keep your contact details up to date to enable effective communication. This is really important for numerous reasons including safeguarding, health & safety etc.

You Said: "Treat us with respect and we will respect you."

We Did/Will Do: We are working hard with the teams to ensure that there is an understanding of individual need and specific circumstances so we hope to see this improve. We would ask you to remember that the team are a small team organising transport across the borough for over 1,000 children and young people so at times the responses and the solutions that you are seeking may not be as quick as you would like them as there may be other priorities that the team have to work on but that you will receive a response within our custom service standards, which are the same as the statutory SEND service (24, 48, 72 and 96 hours depending on the query).

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