Council apologises for SEND social media error

Birmingham chiefs have apologised to the parents of children with special needs using its home to school transport, after some discovered via social media that several drivers had not undergone safety checks.

Councillor Alex Yip at the SEND protest last week. Photo: Alex Yip
Councillor Alex Yip at the SEND protest last week. Photo: Alex Yip

Last week the council’s beleaguered SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) home to school transport service was caught up in yet another controversy, after it was revealed that a firm contracted by the council only had valid DBS checks for 51 of its 110 drivers.

The revelation was made after an audit by the council on North Birmingham Travel, with it announced shortly afterward that the contract would be terminated and the company replaced with Healthcare and Transport Services (HATS).

However the move was not made public to all parents before the news started spreading on social media, prompting the council to once again apologise to parents.

“You may have heard that the city council has terminated our contract with North Birmingham Travel (NBT) and we are aware that this may have created some anxiety for families that have relied on NBT for their Home to School Transport,” the council wrote.

“I write to reassure you that we have secured an alternative supplier.

“I am aware that some people will have heard this news via social media in the first instance, and I apologise that you are only just hearing from us formally.

“If you have received a letter already stating that NBT will be your transport provider for next term, apologies, that will now have changed to HATS.

“HATS are a national provider of Ambulance and Home to School Transport and they have committed to providing a first class service for our families and children from for start of the new academic year.”

The issue of the DBS check for drivers is just the latest in a string of controversies that have plagued the council’s SEND home to school transport for the past few years, with former head of children’s services Councillor Kate Booth forced to resign last month following criticism from Ofsted in its latest report.

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