Denbighshire County Council
The complaint related to the manner in which a decision had been taken in 2022 on free school transport eligibility in relation to pupils with disabilities and additional learning needs (ALN). A concern was also raised that the Council’s school transport policy (“the Policy”) did not properly reflect the provisions of the Learner Travel (Wales) Measure 2008 (“the Measure”) and the Operational Guidance.
The Ombudsman noted that the Council’s appeal decision in this case lacked clarity and wrongly used the term ‘discretionary’ in relation to its consideration of the application. The Council acknowledged this and apologised to the applicant.
The Ombudsman found that the Policy did not indicate that the provision of school transport for pupils with ALN was under the discretionary, rather than the statutory, provisions. However, the wording of the Policy could be much clearer to properly reflect the transport requirements set out in the Measure for pupils with disabilities.
The Council therefore agreed to:
Within 1 month
· Write a guidance document detailing the Council’s duties and process for considering school transport applications for disabled/ALN students, taking account of the provisions and wording of the Measure and Operational Guidance. This should be aimed at assisting applicants and should be available on its website on the same page as its School Transport Policy.
· Review how to improve the explanations for its school transport decisions, so that the wording and explanations are clear to applicants as to what was considered and how the decision was reached. This should include reference to relevant policy, guidance and legislation.