Feedback on this consultation closes on the 16th of September 2022.

What are your views?

Introduction

The Learner Travel (Wales) Measure 2014, places a statutory duty on local authorities to provide home to school transport where children and young people meet the eligibility criteria. Each year local authorities are required to review their Transport Policy and consult on any changes to the existing arrangements.

Whilst Monmouthshire has not sought to make any significant changes to its Transport Policy, new guidance has been drafted to make our operational practices clearer and more transparent for parents, learners, and other stakeholders. We would like your views on our Transport Policy and new guidance so that we can make sure that we are considering all viewpoints.

Responses to this consultation will help to inform the Transport Policy before it is considered by Cabinet in September. The adopted policy and any changes will come into effect in September 2023 and apply to all learners accessing home to school transport. This will ensure that parents of learners commencing primary or secondary education in 2023 will be aware of the Transport Policy and eligibility criteria before submitting applications for their preferred school.

What are the eligibility criteria?

The Learner Travel (Wales) Measure requires local authorities to provide free home to school transport if a learner lives more than their statutory walking distance from their nearest suitable school  (2 miles to a primary school and 3 miles to  secondary school).

Monmouthshire County Council has decided to improve this provision and instead will offer free home to school transport to learners nearest suitable or catchment school if you live more than 1.5 miles from your primary school or 2 miles from your secondary school.

When determining if a school is suitable, we will consider:

  • Age appropriateness – this relates to the learner’s attendance at either a primary of secondary setting.
  • Ability appropriateness – this will relate to attendance at a mainstream school or welsh medium or faith education.
  • Special education requirements – if a learner has a statement of special education needs which specifies a school.

When assessing suitability, we will not consider the outcome of Estyn inspections, individual concerns or preferences over specific schools or parental preferences. If your nearest suitable school is full, eligibility will be assessed based on the next nearest suitable school that has availability to accept the learner. Where a learner has to change schools due to incidents of bullying, free transport to the replacement school will only be provided where the Education Welfare Service or Access Unit have been involved and supported the change of schools.

Key Changes

  • Transport for 4-year olds – We will continue to provide free home to school transport for 4 years who meet the eligibility criteria IF they are able to fasten and unfasten their own seat belts. We will ask parents or guardians to confirm in writing that they are able to do so. If transport has been awarded and the learner is not able to fasten or unfasten their own seatbelt, they will be removed from transport. They will however be able to resume travel as soon as they are able to meet the criteria of fasten and unfastening their own seat belt.

This requirement is being introduced to ensure the safe transport of all learners and to reflect safeguarding requirements which prevents drivers and passenger assistants from physical contact with passengers.

  • Provision of transport to Welsh medium or Faith schools – We will provide free home to school transport to those learners who meet the eligibility criteria to their nearest suitable welsh medium or faith school. If parents choose to send their children to a school which is not assessed by the Commissioning team as the nearest suitable welsh medium or faith school free transport will not be provided.
  • Learners with dual residences – If learners meet the eligibility criteria, we will provide transport to two homes within Monmouthshire, if they are in a joint custody arrangement as ordered by a Family Court. This will ensure that parents are able to meet the conditions of a court awarded shared care Child Arrangement Order. If you wish to apply for travel in these circumstances, the learner should be attending their nearest suitable school (to one of their homes) and we will need to see evidence of the Child Arrangement Order confirming a shared care order. We will not provide transport to two homes if there is an order which specifies the child(ren) are to live with one parent and spend time with another. In these circumstances, transport will only be provided to their designated home.
  • Learners with a statement of special educational needs – Transport will be provided based on the learners assessed statement. The distance criteria will apply but an assessment will only consider those schools that can meet the learners assessed needs. If a learner is not able to walk aided or otherwise due to medical conditions, discretionary transport will be provided regardless of the distance from their home to their school. The discretionary award will be reviewed annually, and parents will be asked to provide updated medical information. In circumstances where the learners disability is such that the medical advice is that their mobility will not improve during the course of their primary or secondary education, discretionary transport may be awarded for the duration of their statutory education (age 5 – 16).
  • Learners in school years 10 & 11 who move to a new house – We will provide transport for learners who live in Monmouthshire and were previously attending their nearest suitable or catchment school and they meet the distance criteria. If a learner moves out of Monmouthshire but still wishes to attend a Monmouthshire school, they will need to seek guidance from the Transport Department of the local authority that they now reside in. Monmouthshire will not provide transport for learners who move out of our county boundary.
  • Post 16 transport – Post 16 learners can apply for concessionary travel if they meet the eligibility criteria, however the pickup point may be in excess of a mile from their home, but no more than 2 miles. Pick up points will be at designated places, usually bus stops and may be different from a previous pick up point if they previously accessed free transport. Transport will be confirmed within 10 days of the start of the academic year. Travel cannot be commenced prior to a formal award and the provision of a bus pass.

We are unable to guarantee that all Post 16 travel will be confirmed prior to the start of the academic year due to the short timescales between GCSE results being confirmed and the academic year commencing. We will need to ascertain where transport has vacant seats, who has applied for them on a first come served basis and the impact on the planned route to collect the passengers. When considering applications, we will not consider applications that result in journey times being extended beyond normal travel distances (45 minutes for primary and 60 minutes for secondary).

  • Concessionary transport – Concessionary seats will be offered where vacant seats are available, however post 16 learners will take priority. If vacant seats remain, seats will be allocated based on who lives furthest away from their school. When considering concessionary applications, we will not be able to consider any applications that result in the journey times being extended beyond normal travel distances (45 minutes for primary and 60 minutes for secondary).
  • Assessment of Available Walking Routes – A walking route is assessed on the shortest distance between home and the school (the closest school gate to their home). The assessment is undertaken based on the Learner Travel Measure (Wales) Act and specifically the specified risk assessment protocol. Assessors will also have regard to the GB Road Safety Guidance.  The assessment will assume that all primary aged learners will be accompanied by an appropriate adult.

Available walking routes are continually reviewed to reflect changes in the local footpath infrastructure. If an assessment results in a route that was previously designated as unsafe being recategorized as available, free transport will be withdrawn from the start of the next academic year. The delay in withdrawing provision is to provide parents and learners with the opportunity to prepare for the change.

  • Pick Up and Drop Off Points – Learners will be asked to meet vehicles at designated pick up and drop off points which will be up to a mile from their home. Wherever possible the designated point will be a registered bus stop, if it is not it will be risk assessed by the operator of the route to assess its safety. It will be parent’s responsibility to ensure the safety of their children to and from the pickup point.

The proposed Transport Policy is available as a separate document or can be viewed here. If you would like a hard copy sent to you please contact us on 01633 644777 or alternatively email us on passengertransportunit@monmouthshire.gov.uk hard copies are also available at all Monmouthshire Hubs.

Walk in Sessions are available for anyone wanting to discuss the proposed policy:

  • Thursday 25th August at Caldicot Hub – 9am till 12.30pm
  • Friday 9th September at Chepstow Hub – 12.30pm till 3.30pm
  • Tuesday 13th September at Abergavenny Hub – 9.30am till 1pm
  • Tuesday 13th September at Gilwern Hub – 1.30pm till 3.30pm
  • Wednesday 14th September at Monmouth Hub – 9am till 12.30pm
  • Thursday 15th September at Usk Hub – 9am till 12noon

Your Views

We would like your views on the proposed Transport Policy and specifically to the key changes discussed in this document.

We would be grateful if you could fill in the following form :

Home to School Transport Policy Consultation FORM