Home to school transport - meeting for families

Published: Wednesday, 21st July 2021

Birmingham City Council’s Leader, Cllr Ian Ward will tonight be holding a second public meeting as part of its continuing commitment to engage with parents and schools as the service works to improve.

Since last September transformation has been underway to provide a professional and efficient service to passengers and families who rely on this specialist transport which takes children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), to and from school.

Green shoots of improvement are already appearing; currently 99.6% of all routes are running on time and feedback is improving. The service is on a transformation journey where collaboration with its users if vital for delivering the service that the families and carers with the most vulnerable children in the city can depend on.

Birmingham City Council’s Home to School Transport specialist team is dedicated to ensuring that appropriate transport is procured, guides and drivers are fully trained in all aspects of health and safety, pupils’ needs are fully understood, the transport is reliable and calls and emails are responded to in a timely fashion.

The Home to School transport improvement programme is part of the City Council’s wider plans to transform its entire Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) offering to offer appropriate help and support to every vulnerable child in Birmingham.

Birmingham City Council Leader Ian Ward said: "Last year I held a public meeting to discuss the findings of the independent inquiry and to hear direct from parents and carers about what we need to do to improve the service, and I welcome the opportunity to update our families on the transformation of the service. There is clearly still a great deal to do and I am not going to pretend that families are now getting the service they deserve. However, there has been progress that many of our families will have seen, including the vast majority of routes running on time.

"One of the promises I made was that we must and will improve the way we engage with families. I'm pleased to see that feedback from parents and schools is improving. But we are not complacent; this is just the beginning of our improvement journey and I know that too many families are still to see sustained improvement.

"Continuing collaboration with our families and our special schools is vital to ensure sustainable improvement and I will take personal responsibility as we continue to drive through the transformation of this service."

This second public meeting is to provide an update on much improved performance since September 2020. Since then the service has made significant progress with currently, 99.6% of transport is now running on time. In addition:

  • 100% DBS compliance for all drivers on HTS routes with proactive monitoring of expiration dates
  • To date, over 50% of guides trained in all modules of Passenger Assistant Training Scheme
  • All guides to receive Foundation level training by September 2021
  • 85% reduction in bus pass applications taking more than 20 working days to assess since April
  • 84% reduction in transport application taking more than 15 working days to assess since April
  • 1,137 new bus pass applications have been assessed April to June
  • Over 90% of 4,002 calls answered and since late May this has not fallen below 96% - this is above the corporate standard of 90%
  • 50% increase in route capacity to facilitate Covid-safe travel, however this will be stood down from September onward

Recent passenger feedback has included:

‘Excellent service provided by guide M on route 4 bus to Cherry Oak School have been nothing but lovely and amazing.’

‘Just wanted to say how great R has been as his taxi driver. He is so patient and kind, and has built a great rapport with myself and T. He is absolutely brilliant with the children and I never had to worry.’

Feedback from schools:

‘B and S (driver and guide of Route 1) immediately rerouted to offer assistance with no hesitation or complaint. This is evidence of the positive, committed and helpful attitude that we see from both of them every day. It is clear that both of them prioritise pupils over anyone else always and so I would be most grateful if you could pass on our sincere gratitude to them on behalf of the pupils and parents at OM.’

The service has also bought in extra capacity for September so that any issues with transport can be quickly resolved with contingency arrangements that can be quickly mobilised. Later in the year, we also plan to introduce the 365 system of communication which will allow us to contact parents, schools and drivers directly in real time quickly solving immediate issues.

We recognise that we still have improvements to make and the return to school in September will be a further test of our work. However, we have made a significant improvement to the service and will continue to do so in order to deliver the transport arrangements that our most vulnerable children deserve.

Notes on the service:

  • The Birmingham Home to School Transport service is the biggest service of its kind in the country
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