Petition launched to save school transport for special needs schools

Councillors will make a decision about funding for school transport.

Councillors will make a decision about funding for school transport. - Credit: PA WIRE

Transport to after school clubs for pupils with special needs could be lost as part of a review by Cambridgeshire County Council.

Outraged parents from five special schools in the county have signed a petition pleading with the council to keep free travel for children to allow them to attend clubs. 

It comes as the council's Children and Young People’s committee agreed to review the service at a meeting on September 14. 

Just over £78,000 is expected to be spent on travel over the next year for 58 pupils from Highfields Academy in Ely, Samuel Pepys in St Neots, Spring Common Academy in Huntingdon, Castle School in Cambridge and Granta School in Linton. 

This breaks down to an annual average cost of £1350 per student. 

Dr Nik Johnson, who is also mayor of the combined authority, said it was “vital” that there was continued support for the service. 

“We should put compassion into action for our young people by keeping this valuable service running for some of the most vulnerable, disadvantaged children in our communities,” he tweeted. 

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“Without this, I'm worried that many of these children will be forced to give up after school activities which are vital for social inclusion and in turn, their overall development, wellbeing and independence.” 

County council chiefs said if any transport was to be removed it “would not be before September 2022, with parents given at least one term’s notice”. 

"No transport will be removed at this stage," it was also confirmed.

One parent who spoke at the council meeting, said: “This service is established, it is safe, working well and is appreciated. 

“Please don’t put yet another barrier to restrict opportunities and quality of life further.” 

During the first consultation that ran for six weeks from February 2020, 16 parents, 13 school staff and two children responded. 

“If they were no longer able to attend after school provision, this would segregate them further and would be a form of discrimination,” the council’s home to school transport report stated. 

Jonathan Lewis, director of education for Cambridgeshire, said: “We want access and opportunity for all. We must listen to parents but equally we want equity.” 

A full consultation to include schools and families with children that participate in after school clubs will now be undertaken.  

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