A consultation is being launched on proposals to review the funding arrangements for transport to and from after school clubs at special schools in Cambridgeshire.
Cambridgeshire County Council currently provides funding to cover the cost of transport to enable children and young people attending the five area special schools to stay on beyond the end of the school day and participate in after school activities.
The arrangements – which have been in place since 2011 – benefit those attending Castle School in Cambridge, Granta School in Linton, Highfields Academy in Ely, Samuel Pepys School in St Neots and Spring Common Academy in Huntingdon.
The council does not provide or fund similar arrangements for children and young people attending other special schools, or for those attending mainstream schools who have Special Educational Needs or Disabilities (SEND) or an Education, Health Care and Plan (EHCP).
As well as the large number of children who do not benefit from such funding, the cost of home to school/college transport has increased considerably and the council is looking at ways to address the significant financial pressures on its budget.
This year, the council is expecting to spend around £600,000 more on home to school/college transport for children and young people with SEND than it has in its budget. This is mainly the result of more children and young people with complex SEND requiring specialist provision, including transport.
This figure includes £93,000 to provide transport for children who use one of the after school clubs run by the five special schools involved in the consultation.
The consultation – which seeks views on five options – runs from January 31 to March 11. A final decision is due to be made by the council’s Children and Young People’s Committee on May 17, with any changes taking effect no earlier than the start of term in September 2022. The options under consideration are:
Option 1a - Continue to provide free transport to children and young people who attend Castle School, Granta School, Highfield Academy Ely, Samuel Pepys School and Spring Common Academy to enable them to access the after school provision run by those schools.
Option 1b - Continue to provide free transport to the children and young people currently on roll at the schools named in Option 1, but not to any children and young people who are placed at those schools after the start of the 2022/23 academic year.
Option 2 - Change from providing free transport to those children and young people who attend the schools named in Option 1 to providing subsidised transport with parents/carers meeting part of the cost.
Option 3 - Change from providing free transport to those children and young people who attend the schools named in Option 1, to providing subsidised transport with parents/carers meeting part of the cost, with the subsidy phased out over three years at the end of which parents/carers would meet the full cost.
Option 4 - Change from providing free transport to those children and young people who attend the schools named in Option 1 to providing free transport only to those families who qualify for financial support on the grounds of low income, and to offer subsidised transport for other children with parents/carers meeting part of the cost.
Option 5 - Cease providing free transport to those children and young people who attend the schools named in Option 1 with effect from the start of term in September 2022. This would mean that parents/carers would need to meet the full cost of transport themselves should they wish their children to continue to attend one of those clubs from the start of September 2022.
Cllr Bryony Goodliffe, chair of Cambridgeshire County Council’s Children and Young People’s Committee, said: “We fully appreciate how the families of children attending these after school clubs will be affected by these proposals. The current arrangements give much-needed respite to parents and carers, and we are also aware of the financial pressures many families are already facing.
“We are therefore launching this consultation to give us a clearer picture of how children, young people, their families and the schools would be affected if any of the options are approved by the Children and Young People’s Committee. Views and feedback on the proposed options are therefore very important – we would also like to hear of any alternative suggestions.”
The quickest and easiest way to take part in the consultation is to complete the survey online : HOME TO SCHOOL TRANSPORT TO AFTER SCHOOL CLUBS CONSULTATION RESPONSE FORM.
Alternatively, paper copies can be obtained by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org and once completed can be sent to:
Transport to After School Clubs Consultation
Cambridgeshire County Council
New Shire Hall