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In the previous edition of the Education Law Journal [Issue 1, 2014] the author presented an analysis of the current statutory guidance concerning school transport, namely the Home to School Travel and Transport Guidance issued in 2007 (the current guidance). In short, for the reasons given in that article, this particular form of guidance is of reasonable depth, and arguably has a positive degree of practical application that is balanced and fair towards both pupils and local authorities. A comparison was made in the article between the 2007 guidance and a new version that was produced by the Department for Education (DfE) in March 2013 (the revised guidance) but was subsequently revoked in July 2013. In summary, this revised version was a much more simple document and for reasons set out in the same article, it seemed to work against the legal rights of the relevant pupils with special educational needs (SEN). For reasons which remain unknown, the revised guidance revoked key references to very practical topics in the current guidance, such as the maximum suitable duration of travel to school, a matter which is addressed in the current guidance. The swift revocation of the revised guidance followed a proposed move for judicial review by the voluntary organisation Independent Panel on Special Education Advice (IPSEA) on the grounds of failure to conduct the necessary consultationbefore finalising the guidance. Until very recently, it was unclear what the Department’s next step would be. By early 2014, when the author’s previous article went to press, no subsequent draft guidance had been issued, nor had any form of formal consultation begun.
However, on 25 March 2014, the DfE issued draft statutory guidance (the proposed guidance) for consultation – New Home to School Travel and Transport Guidance – which is the primary subject of this article. This article addresses the suitability of home-to-school transport (school transport) arrangements for pupils with SEN in the light of the proposed guidance. Its focus, as with the previous article, is on travel arrangements for pupils who are eligible for full and free transportas defined by s 508B of the Education Act 1996 (the Act). The article outlines the Government’s recently proposed guidance and provides a brief comparison with the short-lived revised guidance of 2013. It then considers and analyses the implications of the latest proposed changes.
The full article appears in Issue 2 of 2014 of the Eduction Law Journal. If you subscribe to the journal please click here to read the full article.