SOS Transport Sefton is a campaign group founded by parents of disabled children in the borough of Sefton, in North West England. We are fighting to save post-16 school and college transport for young people with Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND).
In their recent public consultation, Sefton Council presented their proposed changes to transport provision as an opportunity for disabled young people to “be independent and live fulfilling lives”. The Council is offering a programme comprising a ‘Travel Training’ scheme and a security/tracking device with the aim of enabling children and young people to travel to and from school or college independently.
However, many disabled children and young people in the borough, such as wheelchair users, children with profound and complex difficulties, do not have the necessary skills to access this support, nor will they be able to travel to school or college independently. The Council has not proposed any alternative provision for these young people, and we can only assume that parents will be responsible for getting their children to school.
It is ironic, given the Council’s expressed interest in promoting independence skills, that the proposed changes will in fact have the opposite effect for many children and young people with SEND, if they have to be escorted to school by their parents rather than travelling by minibus or taxi.
Removal of transport will cause huge problems for many families, particularly if the child uses a wheelchair, if both parents work, if they live a long way from the school, have other children at different schools or don’t have a car. Many parents are extremely worried, and some say that, without transport, their children will not be able to go to school. As children now need to participate in education until they are 18, this means their parents could be taken to court if their children do not attend.
Sadly, it appears that the most severely disabled children and young people in the community will be the most adversely affected by the proposed changes, and their already hard-pressed families will be put under even greater pressure. We feel it is patently unjust to target cost-saving measures at the most vulnerable in society, and that it is tantamount to discrimination to penalise families because their children’s disabilities prevent them from accessing the support offered by the Council.
Campaign highlights so far
- Gathering over 5,000 signatures in on-line and paper petitions, which is above the threshold required to force a full Council debate
- Organising a peaceful demonstration march to present the petition to the Council
- Setting in motion a legal challenge against Sefton Council
- Coverage in on-line and print versions of local newspapers: http://www.southportvisiter.co.uk/news/southport-news/parents-petition-save-special-needs-8802874
21 April 2015 Interview with spokesperson from SOS Transport Sefton on Tony Snell in the Morning on BBC Radio Merseyside, followed by coverage of the story on news bulletins and radio programmes throughout the day
- Minutes of Council meeting at which our petition was presented and the Leader of the Council gave an assurance that SEN transport will continue to be provided for all disabled children and young people who attend special schools in Sefton
What you can do to help
- Sign our petition
- Like us on Facebook and share our statuses: https://www.facebook.com/SOSTransportinSefton?ref=hl
- Follow us on Twitter @SOS_Sefton and retweet our posts.
- Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org