The Department of Education has recently embarked on a review of the current home to school transport policy. The review will consider a range of options to ensure a future home to school transport policy is fit for purpose and sustainable over the long term. The review is part of a wider transformation programme within the Department.
It is important to make clear that the review of the home to school transport policy is not about cutting the costs and depending on the nature of any revised policy, it is possible that there would be no reduction in overall expenditure or the number of pupils in receipt of home to school transport. The current home to school transport policy circular was issued in 1996 and has remained broadly unchanged. The Department of Education currently funds daily transport assistance to around 84,000 pupils at an annual cost of approximately £81 million per year.
The Department is now commencing an engagement process to work with all stakeholders including parents, children and young people. As the Department has not yet developed a definitive list of potential options to be considered in the review, we are asking you to help us to identify potential options for a future policy.
This is only the beginning of the process and there will be further opportunities to give your views, including a full public consultation process once a new draft policy has been designed. A new draft home to school transport policy will also be subject to equality impact and rural needs impact assessments.
It is also important to highlight that any changes to the current policy will NOT affect pupils with a statement of need that identifies a special transport need.
It will be for a Minister and the Executive to decide on any changes to the current policy and due to the nature of the transport policy it is unlikely that any revised policy would take affect before September 2021 at the earliest.
To begin the process, we are asking for your thoughts by looking at the three links below:
The questionnaire will be available for completion until the end of March 2019. Although responses are only able to be submitted online, if this causes you any difficulties please contact us either via email at email@example.com or by telephone on 028 9127 9887.
You can also register for one of our six public engagement events which will be taking place in January and February 2019 [Home to School Transport Review table]. The events will give you the opportunity to explore the issues raised within the questionnaire and to give your views on how the review should be taken forward.