New home to school transport model launched for SEN students

Submitted by Amelia O'Hanlon | 21/02/2017

In a bid to improve the quality of home to school transport services for those with Special Educational Needs, Suffolk County Council has enlisted the support of Vertas to offer an innovative and sole-provider travel solution.

The Priory School in Bury St Edmunds will be the first school in the county to benefit from the arrangement whereby pupils will be transported from home to school by dedicated Vertas vehicles, introduced exclusively for this arrangement.

Currently the pupils are transported to the ‘Outstanding’ special academy in vehicles operated by as many as 20 different taxi providers, some of which are travelling over 50 miles every morning.

During a review of the current service offer, Suffolk County Council’s transport department identified the need to provide a more efficient and consolidated service to parents and their children. Vertas and the county council jointly developed a bespoke package, thus creating a service which would bring benefit to all parties, most especially the pupils.

The new service established by Vertas, on behalf of the Priory School will include the following benefits:

  • Brand new dedicated fleet of 17 vehicles, including 15 Peugeot mini-buses all specified to the needs of the young passengers, including bright, fun and consistent livery
  • Uniformed and formally trained drivers and passenger assistants; ensuring the safety of pupils travelling to and from home
  • A dedicated back office team managing the entire operation; ensuring one point of contact for all enquiries relating to the service
  • All vehicles fitted with tracking technology; allowing our team to know exactly where all travelling pupils are at any time
  • Improved safety when arriving at and leaving the school premises
  • Partnership led between the county council, school and Vertas; ensuring a flexible, responsive and coordinated approach.

Jo Lardent, Group Commercial Director for Vertas Group Limited, said:

“We are very excited to be launching such an important service in partnership with Suffolk County Council and the Priory School.

“This new solution has been designed with the parents, young people and school in mind. It has been imperative that the pupils are at the heart of this process; ensuring we have their support throughout.

“At Vertas, our commitment to deliver quality, bespoke and cost-effective solutions has played the dominant part in getting this new service off the ground. We are delighted to be working with our partners and look forward to further developing this service for the benefit of others in the future.”

Lawrence Chapman, Head Teacher for Priory School said:

“The Priory School is delighted to be chosen as the partners in this new service. My absolute top priority as Head Teacher is ensuring the safety and prompt arrival of my pupils to and from the school – I am confident this new service will help aide this.

“Due to some of the challenges our pupils face, this service will also focus on supporting those with vulnerabilities to arrive at school in the best frame of mind to learn and return home ready to relax and unwind.”

The five-year delivery model has been designed following consultation with parents at the school. The new service will begin on Monday 22 May 2017 and will be regularly monitored by the partnership to ensure ongoing improvements.

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