Huge pressures facing transport for children with special educational needs

By Cllr Damian White | 14 February 2022

Services for children with special educational needs (SEN) have reached a pivotal point as they face down huge demand and cost pressures.

The introduction of the Children and Families Act in 2014 made crucial changes to the SEND system which included extending the age range of eligibility. This extension has led to many more children being identified with SEND and requiring vital support.

As a result however, London now has 97% more children with Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) than it did in 2010 and local provision is often hugely oversubscribed.

These figures are replicated in my own borough, where we will see a doubling in the number of plans issued locally between 2018 and 2025 as a result of the reforms.

These pressures are being felt critically in SEN transport services, which provide free travel for children with SEN who require assistance to get to school.

As demand has increased, we’ve seen many more children traveling out of their home boroughs to access specialised education provision.

The frequency of this is increasing and crucially, driving up already high transport costs.

Alongside the exponential growth in demand over the last decade, these services have been hit hard by the pandemic and need urgent funding to ensure that this lifeline remains able to support all children and young people with SEND who need it to access education provision.

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