Does a child have to have a statement to access transport?
Of course she is not local to the school and it is this sort of thing which will surely make head teachers say “No” to provisions – £10,000 will be said to be in the school but she is only coming because we are here.
The Consultant replies: The policy for LAs is not to fund parental choice of school. This means that a parent can choose a school, and be accepted on roll but not be eligible for assisted transport (taxi). We can see the sense of this – the LA would be faced with colossal costs if it funded transport for a school which is not the closest and even then they do not fund transport unless (and this is important) the ‘local, nearest suitable, school is more than three miles away and the three mile rule seems to operate in all LAs (as far as I know). The important word here is ‘suitable’. If a child has a disability, we may need to consider a special school or facility. To enter a facility or special school the child needs a statement. This is the justification for sending the child to a school which is NOT their local school. Often the specialist placement is further away than the local school and this is the reason why assisted travel is offered. It’s curious that assisted travel is still offered if the special school is inside 3 miles.
In the case of the head teacher refusing to maintain a facility, I can’t see why they would do this. I guess it depends on the funding for the facility but as with special schools, they are usually given a basic pupil unit and then apply for top up (via the High Needs Block) for individual pupils who have more complex needs. There is so much national variation on funding that I can’t guarantee this is the case where you are.
So, it appears that in all cases, you need to have a statement in order to qualify for transport. There may be isolated examples of when the child does not have a statement but still qualify for transport but I can’t think of one right now.