Controversial proposals put forward by Oxfordshire County Council to reduce provision for free school transport to and from special schools for pupils aged 16 years and over with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (‘SEND’) have been criticised by Banbury County Councillors. The move would affect 18 students who currently attend the Frank Wise School in Banbury.
Following a full Council meeting at County Hall yesterday, County Councillors Eddie Reeves and Kieron Mallon spoke in favour of the reinstatement of free transport for children with SEND needs and urged the Council’s Cabinet to reconsider plans at their meeting next week.
Speaking after the meeting, Councillor Eddie Reeves, Conservative Member for Banbury Calthorpe whose division includes Frank Wise School said:
“This issue is above Party politics. The Cabinet should look again at its plans and find savings in other ways. The Frank Wise School does a fantastic job educating some 120 students, many of whom have profound physical and learning difficulties, it is right that we show parents, pupils and staff that we are behind them all the way.”
Councillor Kieron Mallon (Bloxham and Easington Division) has been a longstanding supporter of the Frank Wise School. He spoke at the meeting and said:
“Oxfordshire County Council is undertaking a Special Needs Review at the same time this Special Educational Needs and Disabilities review is taking place; they overlap so I ask that they are combined under one comprehensive SEND review and not run separately.
This would lead to a clearer, county-wide picture and produce a better outcome for vulnerable children and their parents, including those we support at the Frank Wise School in Banbury.”
After a full debate, a motion was unanimously passed by backbench Councillors across all political parties to ask the Director of Children’s services to consider the issue with the Headteacher’s of the affected schools in order to propose alternative options. The motion also called for the recent home to school transport policy to be deferred until these new options have been evaluated.