Monday, July 06, 2009

When Rules Need to be Bent

I do hope that Peter Griffiths, Cabinet Member for Education on West Sussex County Council, is reading this.

His council is going to fork out £80 a day for a taxi to send a boy, Daniel Foulds-Holt to his secondary school in Steyning - his parents' second choice - because there is no school bus. Their house lies just 350 yards outside the catchment area for their first choice school of Downlands in the village of Hassocks.

So for the sake of 350 yards, West Sussex council tax payers are facing a bill of £80,000 over the lifetime of Daniel's secondary school career. Madness.

If Peter Griffiths can't sort this out, he should resign his post.

Hattip Daily Telegraph


James Higham said...

That's as maybe, Iain and I'm not playing it down but where does one draw the line then?

Sean Haffey said...

The issue is that we draw up more and more rules and then make decisions based on these rules.

Throughout government we need fewer rules and the ability of proven managers to use their discretion. The lack of this approach leads to increased costs throughout government, local and national, and serves the public poorly.

TheNickofTime said...

Once MPs, Councillors and any of these people have made a decision there is no question they will change their mind, because that would be admitting that someone had made a mistake. James Higham's comment is a case in point - rules are more important than common sense and clear thinking. This country is rife with this nonsense now. The only chance it will stop is when they realise there really is no money left.

Cardinal Richelieu's mole said...

Too right Iain. Norman Tebbit would have it sorted quicker than fast - buy the kid a bike (<£160 and staves off obesity that afflicts the young - so win-win).

Anonymous said...

Oh that sort of 'bent' sorry iain!

trevorsden said...

Surely it should be the responsibility of the parents to transport their son to the nearest place he can catch the school bus. Or thats where the taxi should take him.

Plus the 'catchment area' is wrong. And or the whole principle of catchment areas is wrong.

Also what is wrong with simply adding one more to the class size?

Anonymous said...

How about using common sense when drawing up the boundaries, or is that something that is taken away from people when the become public employees?

Paul said...

Steyning's a long way from Hassocks. Is there any way of seeing catchment areas online?

Anyway, this is why we should have a voucher system and no catchment areas. Much, much fairer over all.

Anonymous said...

According to the mother. on LBC this morning, two children are picked up already for the other school. So he could be added at virtually no cost. But he is a few yards out of the catchment area!

Anonymous said...

It is typical of bad management. Good managers attack the problem and face it down even if it causes hassle. Bad managers avoid dealing with the problem and make more rules and send out more memos rather than face the hassle.Everyone is then stuck with a rule that is only needed to deal with one problem. By now if you have survived in the private sector you are likely to be a good manager. Sadly the public sector is still full of b***** awful ones.

IanVisits said...

According to a rough calculation, the distance from home to school is a shade under 5 miles.

How on earth did the council come up with an £80 per day taxi fare?

I have no problem with the council paying for a taxi to stay within the rules, but for goodness sake - find a taxi company that charges a sensible fare.

Boo said...

odd that the catchment area did not account for bus routes.

Anonymous said...

350 yards will then become 800 yards, then 1500 yards and so on and so on....... As the first t poster said, where does a hard pressed council draw the line ?

Anonymous said...

Again according to the mother, on LBC this morning, the reason for the high taxi fare is that the local taxi's are not on the council's approved list.

Peter Harrison said...

Having just fought my way through the admissions system, I very much doubt that Peter Griffiths can sort this out. The process for admissions is laid down by law and the School Admissions Code, which is a statutory document produced by the government.

Each school has an admission number (i.e. the number of pupils it will admit to year 7) and a set of admissions criteria which determine the priority order for admission of children. Once these have been set, councils have no discretion at all. They can't change (or bend) the rules after the event, however bad the outcome looks.

For this particular school, children inside the catchment area get places first (after some children who have to be admitted by law), with priority going to those who already have a sibling at the school. If there are any places left, they go to children living outside the catchment area with priority again going to those who already have a sibling at the school.

The school has an admission number of 210. Once that many children have been admitted, it is not allowed to offer places to any more children. If it does it is in breach of its statutory obligations. However, the parents of children who have not been admitted are allowed to appeal and, if they win, the school will be required to admit them even if it takes the school over the admission number.

We don't even know from this report if the child would have been admitted if he had lived within the catchment area. It is quite possible that there are children living within the catchment area who were not admitted but whose parents haven't gone to the press.

Another point worth noting is that, as he was outside the catchment area for Downlands, the boy would have been in the catchment area for another school. However, instead of making their local school the second choice, the parents chose to nominate Steyning. As parental choice (rightly) trumps most other considerations, that means the council have to fork out for a taxi.

Why did the parents not make the local school their second choice?

My basic point is that the Council is required by law to set rules and then abide by them. It cannot then bend the rules because it doesn't like the outcome.

And I'm afraid, in this instance, I don't agree with Sean Haffey that we need fewer rules. If we are going to have parental choice, we need rules to show how it will be administered otherwise there will be huge costs through endless appeals and judicial reviews.

niconoclast said...

An education system run on Soviet lines produces such absurdities.Isn't it the job of the Tories to argue for market solutions to education?(Holding of breath not advisable)

Anonymous said...

Again if you think on the problem, for social reasons the boy ought to go to the other school as he would have locals at the same school. By definition if his home to his school is such an awkward journey he would not have any visiting friends.

James said...

This bus to Steyning should suffice - straight to the school gates:

Just a 2km hike across some fields to get to the closest stop

JBW said...

Cardinal Richelieu's mole said...
"Too right Iain. Norman Tebbit would have it sorted quicker than fast - buy the kid a bike (<£160 and staves off obesity that afflicts the young - so win-win)."

True- until the poor bugger is run down on the narrow county roads by a speeding HGV, like wot we have in our village - up to 50 of them a day.

Mark M said...

£80 a day for a taxi? How far away is the school?

Going on the TfL website ( you can calcualte that a taxi journey of £40 would take nearly 1hr 20mins or be a distance of over 13 and a half miles. These are for journeys in a black cab. Other parts of the country and other taxis will no doubt be much cheaper.

You can't beat public sector waste.

Vedette said...

Rules is Rules and must be obeyed at all times. I bet every Jobsworth in the land is nodding approvingly at this latest piece of buerocratic idiocy.This fellow deserves a place in Browns cabinet.

Disco Biscuit said...

I don't believe the system of school place allocation was dreamt up by the council, Iain? Being a little unfair on the here I think... they just enforce the rules as they are handed down by central Government.

Think you need to aim elsewhere on this one...

David MacLean said...

£80 taxi ride? How far away is this second choice?

Surely there are other schools which are closer - other than the first choice - with available places.

If there are, then how dare they pick a school tens of miles away then expect the taxpayer to pick up the taxi tab?


Plato said...

I know many local taxi drivers who get most of their income from council school runs.

Journeys of 15 miles each way are common for any kids that have behavioural issues.

Scallywag said...

Socialist lunacy...

Casual Observer said...

I'll do it for £350/week... cash.

trevorsden said...

Interesting points Mr Harrison.

"Why did the parents not make the local school their second choice?" -- possibly because it is rubbish?

The point to draw is surely that IF this school is a good one it should be allowed to expand to take in more pupils.

You also say that there is no latitude and so this child must go to another school. But you then say "the parents of children who have not been admitted are allowed to appeal and, if they win, the school will be required to admit them even if it takes the school over the admission number."
So despite this arbitrary number - it can if pressed be changed.

I ask you what's the point? What a shambles our education system is descended into.

Lola said...

Iain, old son, you must not fall into the bureaucratic rationing trap. The reason the rules need to be bent is that the rules are wrong. It's the reason that there was trade in broken lightbulbs in the USSR.

The council shouldn't 'see sense' and let this student go to the 1st choice school, or buy him a bike. They should look at the rationing system and then look behind that to the problem, which is one of inadequate supply brought about by left bureaucratism. The answer is to give all people vouchers that they can spend on education with their chosen supplier. Extra high quality provision would soon arrive to take up the shortages created by bureaucratic rationing. Arguably food is more important to keeping body and soul together than education. From my little home in the country I have a choice of 5 or 6 supermarkets, two major shopping centres, one country town and various local shops all within about 10 to 20 minutes. De-nationalise education and the same access and choice of provision will automatically appear as entrepreneurs see the opportunity and fill the void.

Horshamite said...

Yes, this is bonkers but comments above demonstrate just what a nightmare the Government has created. Rules can never better commonsense.
I don't know the schools involved but in West Sussex our schools are generally good. Is it heretical to suggest that nowadays parents have too much undigested and indigestible information about schools' "performance" thus sometimes prompting needless worry? The right school for a child is not necessarily the school that comes highest in a league table, though that is the impression sometimes given.

Roger Thornhill said...

I am a parent and right in the middle of catchment hell, so I understand the feelings.

This is an example of what can happen when we have centralised control of supply.

Attendance should be the decision of the schools concerned and the schools only. Not the state, not the LEA and certainly not forced upon them by media frenzy.

Neither should the formation of new schools be the remit of the LEA or Central Government (note that, Tories, who still seem to want ultimate control).

In an area lacking in good school places, the market should be free to step in and meet the need. Very soon such stories will be few and far between. Only the LPUK will leave schools free to do their work.

Anonymous said...

Why does this scrounger get a free taxi?

Anonymous said...

Whatever happened to COMMON SENSE?

Peter Harrison said...

Trevorsden - it is certainly possible that the reason the local school was not named as first or second choice is because it was rubbish. I can't see anything in the news article to tell us which is the local school so there is no way of knowing, but I hope that is the reason. Unfortunately some parents deliberately name a school a long way away as their second choice in an attempt to force the local authority to allocate the child to their first choice school. I am not saying that happened here, but it does happen.

The admission number is not an "arbitrary number". It is determined from the school's capacity, which in turn is determined by the number and size of classrooms. If you consistently admit more than the admission number the school will become overcrowded.

You say "it (the admission number) can if pressed be changed". Yes, it is possible for pupils to be admitted beyond the admission number, but only under specific circumstances. Unless the authority has made a mistake, the parents have to appeal. The appeal is heard by an independent panel who have to decide whether the prejudice to the child from not being admitted outweighs the prejudice to the school from admitting the child. If that appeal fails, the parents may be able to lodge a complaint with the Local Government Ombudsman or apply for a judicial review. They will only succeed at this stage if they can show that the authority is guilty of maladministration or has interpreted the law incorrectly. If the parents are successful at any stage, the admission number is not changed but the child is admitted.

I am in favour of parental choice. I also agree with you that good schools should be allowed to expand. Of course, that won't necessarily solve the problem - it takes time to create new places and there is a limit to how far a school can expand on its existing site whilst continuing to deliver a good quality education. That means it is likely that parental choice will run up against the obstacle of school capacity for the forseeable future. Which in turn means that we need some system for sorting out who gets in.

My own feeling on this case is that it is a bit rich for the parents to choose such an inconvenient school as their second choice then complain about the cost of transporting their son. If their son had been admitted to their first choice school, someone else who lived closer to the school or already had a sibling at the school would have been excluded, which doesn't strike me as fair. And I wonder why they've gone to the press instead of lodging an appeal.

HarveyR said...

Of course it's madness. But the rules are mad. After all what is the problem with just one more child added to the size of the class?

The madness will not end until there is no school so dire that parents are unwilling to let their child attend it.

If you bend the rule to allow one child from 350m outside the catchment area to attend the school of their choice, you will only invite the parents of children living 400m, then 500m then 750m to demand and expect the same.

restandBthankful said...

Isn't it the parents who should be responsible for getting their kids to school. Oh! sorry in the UK it becomes someone else's responsibility, silly me.

Ian E said...

Sorry, Iain, more than his job's worth!

Charles_E_Hardwidge said...

I haven't seen a peep from the Tories about raising R&D, a long-term attitude to finance, or fair wages. Not a peep, and these people are supposed to be the party of developing business opportunity and everyone's pal? At the first whiff of danger they shrivelled like a sheet of polythene exposed to the flame. Where's the vision? Where's the leadership? Where's the guts? I don't see it, probably, because the Tories don't have it in them. Paper tigers, the lot of 'em.

Sean Haffey said...

Peter Harrison (above) demonstrates exactly why excess of rules in government causes chaos for our citizens. All the rules he mentions are logical and fair and yet the end result is an absurd situation.

Fewer rules, better government.

Steve Horgan said...

'That's as maybe, Iain and I'm not playing it down but where does one draw the line then?'

Which is the sort of attitude that leads to people moronically obeying rules despite this leading to situations that everyone knows are bonkers. Just because someone uses their judgement to arrive at a sensible solution does not mean the floodgates are opened to the forces of chaos. In fact, obsession with documented process can actually be very dangerous when bureaucracies substitute that for real-world outcomes. The baby P case was a shocking example of this, where professionals abrogated their responsibilities in favour of a box-ticking exercise. This was taken to the point that the Council there actually tried to defend itself on that basis as if that were more important than the child being alive. Hopefully the Council here will get a grip.

Anonymous said...


Just read Trueblueblood today. He is predicting a Winter of Discontent and you think this is a relity?

Fascinating reading about all the Union leaders...some scary characters

strapworld said...

And I used to walk two miles to my infant/junior school- and back.Three and a half miles to my senior school (an approved school!).

Is this not another indication why we have a problem with obesity in children?

Richard said...

Sean Haffey said...
"Throughout government we need fewer rules and the ability of proven managers to use their discretion."

Yes, but for that to work we also need to sack the managers who are not capable.

One reason we end up with so many rules in the public sector is that the staff are not capable of sensible exercises of discretion.

davidc said...

does anyone else remember 'parental choice of schools'that was all the rage back in thatcherite days ?

parents were going to chose the school and good ones flourish while poor ones either improved or withered !!
condemned to the dustbin along
with the home school contract that was going to sort out indiscipline in the classroom along with all the other initiatives that were going to herald a golden age of education ho ho !

cherami said...

How can anyone be so bl**dy f@ck*ng stupid.

The first post explains why.

James Higham should be ashamed of himself.

Dimoto said...

MarkM said :
£80 a day for a taxi? How far away is the school?

Going on the TfL website ( you can calcualte that a taxi journey of £40 would take nearly 1hr 20mins or be a distance of over 13 and a half miles. These are for journeys in a black cab. Other parts of the country and other taxis will no doubt be much cheaper.

You can't beat public sector waste.

July 06, 2009 11:30 AM

With all due respect Mark, this just shows the profound ignorance of the urbanite on matters rural.
Most country taxi services run from the local station. All are monopolies (no room for two), and all charge exorbitant rates.
Fare from my home to the "local" station is about £70-80, it's about five miles (don't forget it's a return visit for the taxi). We have buses (ridiculous, huge, polluting, retired urban buses) with a minimalist and vague schedule, and mostly between town centres only.
That's why a car is essential kit for the rural denizen.

Anonymous said...

Government diktat apparently - it happens all over Britain.

Pittance compared to Ed Balls aborted £126 m. SATS fiasco.

strapworld said...

Sorry Dimoto. ALL Taxi Firms are regulated by the local council and fares set by the same body. I suggest that you speak to them and ascertain the fare rates set by them.
£70-80 is quite unbelievable.

You are not Gordon Brown are you?

Plato said...

Dimito - five miles by taxi is between £12-14 in my rural area and allows for going back to base for the next pick-up.

Never £80 even on Christmas Day.

Anonymous said...

In the Met Police there was once a General Order (policy) under Chapter 5 Para 19 commonly referred to as use your 5:19.

It basically said that not every eventuality was covered by the book and supervisors must use their COMMON SENSE.

Surely common sense should be legislated for to empower managers of services to save public money. As long as there are objective reasons for negating the rule then the manager should have support.

I agree with Iain...... he should get real and allow the boy to the first choice school.

allnottinghambasearebelongtous said...

I take it this is one of Mr Dale's internal Tory feuds like when he had a pop at John Bercow?

Perhaps the council should extend this popular school's catchment area by 350 yards all around its current borders? That wouldn't cause any problems would it?

Alternatively, let this one child through the net, wait for all the other parents to complain and Ian can write an ill thought out blog post about that instead.

Catchment areas have been part of the education system since I was a 'customer', its hardly new. I also don't think its completely unknown for kids to be taken to school by taxi in a few circumstances when the pieces don't quite all fit together.

I suspect the £80k figure has been expanded via a bit of Chinese whispers too.

As for managers not dealing with the problem they clearly have done so, just not in a way that some people like, although as I say, there has obviously been a bit of exaggeration to make it into a story. Next year there'll prob be a couple more kids from the neighbourhood placed in that school and the taxi bill will be shared, or maybe there'll be enough to justify a mini bus to be hired who knows? All in all, a bit of a damp squib this one.

Iain Dale said...

What a pathetic comment. So if I criticise a Tory or a Tory council it is a 'feud' and when I don't I am an arselicker. Wonder why I bother. If you can't see this is a valid story then I feel sorry for you.

allnottinghambasearebelongtous said...

Well, its not a valid story is it? Its only beef is based on an obviously exaggerated taxi fare and an assumption that the arrangement will remain exactly the same til the end of the kid's schooling which, as I pointed out, even assuming he stays at the same school is a bit of a biggie.

As for your alleged 'solution', it's one of those knee jerk types that I'm sure you'd be among the first to criticise if it was made by someone who wasn't in your favour currently.

All in all, just looks like you're having a pop at somebody rather than making a serious comment. As does your rather huffy response.

simon said...

This is a mad situation but if the council bent the rules in this case, they would spend the rest of the year dealing with complaints and doubtless legal challenges from other parents just outside the catchment area.

The problem here isn't too little parental choice but too much - or at the least the illusion of it. With a finite number of school places, some much more desirable than others, it's impossible for education authorities to satisfy everyone, so chaos and unfairness ensue. Parents' expectations are raised so high by the idea that their choices will be respected, that many end up disappointed.

When I was kid, we went where we were sent - it was a system without parental choice but it was at least clear. No doubt, as now, some did better than others out of it.

Of course, if there wasn't such a disparity between the quality of schools in an area, the notion of choice would matter less.

captainff said...

Can I add some local knowledge to the debate?

Depending on which direction outside of the catchment area he is (I'm guessing to the West) then Steyning Grammar is most likely his catchment school, a school that I unsuccessfully applied to send my daughter to this year. The nearest second choice school is Oakmeeds which really is most people's second choice school.

Downlands is highly sought after by local parents because of the good educational standards it sets; Steyning Grammar is also much oversubscribed each year.

Thatsnews said...

But so long as it fits in with the rules, all will be well!

The problem is that they will think: "If we do it for them, we'll have to do it for everyone else!"

And the reason for the high fare? Councils (operated by anal-ret bean counters) do not like to have dozens taxi firms on their books, so decide to only use a couple. It's easier for their tiny minds to work this way.

However, this overlooks the fact that if you are a county council covering a large area, then the taxi could well have to make a 30 mile trip before it picks the child up. Then it does the trip, say 5 miles, then returns to base, being anther 35 miles. All on the clock, of course. Same thing in the evening, so a 10 mile round trip is actually a staggering 70 miles. That's why it costs £80 a day.

Meanwhile in Gordon Brown#s Universe
European Powers declare war on Britons, Brown acused of vandalism, Spooks who use Facebook, Ministers who cant tell truth from lie: It's just another Gordon Brown week...

Norfolk Blogger said...

It's crazy. Let's get back top catchment areas being important (something the last Tory government undid)

Thatsnews said...

All it takes for a good idea to founder is for idiots to administer it.

Spartan said...

I'm sure the projected £80,000 cost for taxi fayres would be sufficent to hire a portakabin and a teacher for this kid to be located at the school of his families choice.

Commonsense in education and local government, now that's radical.

Anonymous said...

Just Noticed the Home Office is out of date!

Anonymous said...

So WSCC adopt an admissions policy on the basis that (a) Iain Dale tells them to or (b) some politician uses his influence to bend the rules. The costs of the Judicial Review as every other child who didn't gets their 1st choice goes to court, will make £80,000 look like chicken feed.

Thatsnews said...

Or c) anonymous 10.33, a equitable, more sensible decision is made that will satisfy everyone concerned.

But, anon, option c is rarely used. Why? Because there are too many people who waste hours or days telling everyone that something can't be done. Rather than getting their heads together to work out HOW it can be done.

See, anon, they have rules and special magical phrases:

"We don't have a procedure for that."
"That would have health and safety implications."
"That's more than my job's worth."
"We don't do that, round 'ere."
"There are inter-departmental issues involved."


Monday evening update. Honest Al nobled! Ofcom screams! Lords angry!

Lady Finchley said...

They did appeal and lost. When my son was in school I chose to send him across London to the best state school possible instead of the crap school around the corner. MY choice so I paid his tube fare and didn't expect anybody else to pick up the tab for MY choice. Having said that, it hardly makes sense to have to go to Steyning Grammar when the bus for Downlands stops right by his house. Nevertheless, if the rules are bent for him, they'll have to bend that for everybody else.

BTW, Peter Griffiths is a good man and stepped up to the plate when a council miscalculation meant that over 10 children did not get a place at the primary in Hassocks that was close to their home. He does do his best but he has to work with what Central Government gives him.

Lady Finchley said...

And anyway, why can't his parents take him to school? If they chose to send him to an independent school they'd probably have to drive him as there isn't one on any corner. I sure as hell don't want my taxes going to pay cab fares - THAT shouldn't even be an option unless there is a special needs child involved.

Neil A said...

Is it possible that the quoted taxi-fate includes the cost of an "escort" to chaperone the child? From my days working in Child Protection this was common practice where children were transported in cabs at local authority expense.

For what it's worth I half-agree with Iain. I understand the system and the need for tough choices, but its hard to credit that this is the best arrangement that can be reached. Maybe if one of the families at Downlands who happens to live closer to Steyning were offered £20 a week cash to swap with this child, then money (and CO2) could be saved all round?

captainff said...

I've just been reading an article in the Telegraph about this and the Family live in Edburton.

For those of you that don't know the area as well as I do then let me explain. Edburton is closer to Steyning than Hassocks and easier to get to by road. Sending the boy to Downlands would mean sending him to a school that is further away. That would be lunacy.

Dimoto said...

Strapworld said:
"Sorry Dimoto. ALL Taxi Firms are regulated by the local council and fares set by the same body. I suggest that you speak to them and ascertain the fare rates set by them.
£70-80 is quite unbelievable".

I believe it's just economics, most of the taxis seem to spend most of the day waiting at the station. These are not the sort of taxis that exist in some outlying suburban areas ferrying non-car owners to the supermarket.
Our taxis only seem to be used for emergencies or by unwary long distance visitors (to the usual clutch of NT properties).
My address is not in the same council area as the station/cab company - common enough in the countryside. They probably have a waver for 'out of area' fares.

Chris Paul said...

How many perfectly good schools with similar value-added results would this child be driven past to get to this other school, apparently a £40 taxi ride away?

There's not enough information in your story and no link to the DT to judge what's really going on here.

350 yards is a hell of a long way outside a catchment area. Ask any parent in any closely contested LEA. There could be scores if not hundreds of others ahead of this family.

I know someone who was about 500 yards AWAY FROM THE LONDON SCHOOL (primary) they chose - not outside the catchment, away from the school gates - but not only 150 yards outside the catchment but also only about 20th on the reserve list for that school.

More info and link.

Ted Treen said...

My own belief is that rules are for the guidance of wise men, and the blind obedience of idiots.

We have government, local and national, which blindly obeys rules.


Anonymous said...

There seems to be some misunderstanding of this situation
FYI Steyning is the catchment school for Edburton. It is physically closer than Downlands but less accessible because of the lack of public transport. The 12 houses in the village are 1.5 miles away from the school bus route to Steyning down a windy county lane with no path or street lighting. it is therefore the council's policy to use taxis to transport children in the village to school. The high cost of the journey is becuse the council will not approach the nearest taxi firms in Steyning because they have chosen not to become approved suppliers.

Peter Griffiths said...

I did read Iain's posting on this issue and want to respond.

It is important to make it clear that Daniel Foulds-Holt has been offered a place at the school for the catchment area where he lives, which was the second stated preference of the family.

His parent’s first preference was for him to attend Downlands School, Hassocks, which is outside his catchment area, and is over subscribed with 15 children on the waiting list.

There were a total of nine appeals for admission to Downlands – heard by a panel independent of the County Council – and only one was allowed.

We understand the disappointment of parents when the Local Authority is unable to offer a place at the school of their first preference, but there is legislation relating to oversubscription, which we must follow.

If all the children wanting a place at Downlands were admitted it would involve significant extra expense in terms of meeting accommodation and staffing requirements.

This issue is about a family that has lost an admissions appeal to a school outside the catchment area where they live.

Determining catchment area boundaries is a complicated issue and whilst transport might be a consideration it is certainly not a deciding factor as services vary and change for commercial reasons.

In a large rural county like West Sussex there will inevitably sometimes be a need to lay on special transport arrangements to meet our legal obligation to get children to their catchment school.

However, the costs being quoted to get Daniel to Steyning have been grossly inflated.

We use 40 taxi or minibus services for pupils without special educational needs attending mainstream schools. Some of the services are used by students who are unable to walk to school or catch a conventional bus due to short or long term physical disability.

We have in excess of 100 taxi operators to draw on, and because companies know that they have work guaranteed for at least 12 months, we are able to secure much better prices as part of a tendering process.

There are currently only six solo taxi journeys in West Sussex costing less than £6,000 a year in total, so the figure being quoted for Daniel is simply not accurate.

Daniel does not start at Steyning Grammar until September, and he may yet share a vehicle. We are currently looking at using an existing vehicle, which would make a diversion to collect him.

As part of the transport entitlement, a mileage allowance was offered to his parents if they wanted to drive him the ten miles to school, but this was turned down. The family live 1.7 miles away from a bus stop.

We have made it clear the issue of school admissions and transport is being reviewed by the County Council.

Peter Griffiths
Cabinet Member for Education and Schools
West Sussex County Council