Complaints from sixty-four parents about the way the council consulted the public, took the decision and publicised the new arrangements on a change to its policy on provision of free home to school transport.
Complaints from sixty-four parents about the way the council consulted the public, took the decision and publicised the new arrangements on a change to its policy on provision of free home to school transport. Under the new policy these parents were not entitled to free school transport to their chosen school. Many had appealed through the council's internal appeal procedure and were dissatisfied with the outcome. This report relates to four complaints which illustrate the range of issues raised by the complaints we have received.
The Ombudsman upheld the complaints and found fault causing injustice.
To remedy the injustice caused, the council should:
- ensure information to parents explains how they can establish which is their nearest school. It should ensure that at key points in the school admission application procedure parents are warned that the catchment area school may not be the nearest. The council accepts this recommendation. It has provided clearer information in its material for parents for admissions in 2016;
- ensure that the school transport policy and its website contain the correct information about the assessment of home to school distances. The council accepts this recommendation. It has made clear at key points in its published information about school admissions that parents should get in touch with the council if they wish to establish which is their nearest school;
- review the school transport appeal procedure. It should ensure it takes properly into account individual circumstances and explains reasons for its decisions. The council has agreed to review the appeal procedure. It will ensure that all decisions are taken after consideration of all the relevant factors and the reasons are explained;
- arrange a fresh appeal for one of the complainants covered in this report. It should ensure that her circumstances are taken fully into account and explain full reasons for the decision. The council has agreed to arrange a fresh appeal. It will ensure the complainant's circumstances are fully taken into account and the decision reasons are fully explained to her.
Ombudsman satisfied with council's response: 12 May 2016