Helping young people with additional needs achieve greater independence

Published: Tuesday, 18th July 2023

A pilot programme to help young people with additional needs achieve greater independence is set to become permanent.

Independent Travel Training for children with Special Educational Needs or Learning Difficulties has helped young people not only travel to school independently but give them confidence and life skills.

Cllr Karen McCarthy, cabinet member for children, young people and families, said: “This is a fantastic programme that is so much more than helping young people get to school independently. It’s a real path to independence as they move from being a student to adulthood, removing barriers to further learning and employment opportunities, improving wellbeing and helping access social activities.

“The testimonials from the pilot programme are wonderful to hear, you can really see the difference the training has made, with the support of schools and parents and the amazing work of the trainers.”

For the six months from October 2022 30 individuals have completed the travel training, 20 are in training and further 68 referrals are waiting to start training.

Jo Bowen, Head of Sixth Form at Wilson Stuart school, said of a student: "Zain embraced this opportunity demonstrating his willingness to be an independent member of the community whilst building his esteem and communication skills.

“There were many conversations based around his thoughts and feelings about his journey to being independent and this allowed him to become more aware of the opportunities that accessing public transport could lead to.

"Throughout this process, Zain has learned some valuable life lessons about communication, time management and what to do in certain situations. The combination of applying school learning and development of essential life skills have prepared Zain for his next steps into adulthood and he can now be more aspirational with his acquired skills."

There has been an increase in the number of students in Birmingham who require school transport from 4,200 in 2021/2022 to 5,238 in 2022/2023, an increase by almost 25% year on year. The programme will be paid for through resultant savings from home to school transport costs.

The report will go before the council’s cabinet on 25 July.

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