Vulnerable children in Birmingham dropped off at wrong schools

18th October, 2021 8:58 am

Three vulnerable children were taken to the wrong schools at the start of term by a council’s transport service, a scrutiny committee has heard.

It is the latest in a series of problems for home-to-school transport for special needs pupils in Birmingham.

A new contract was agreed just two weeks before the new term after another provider was criticised for failings.

The local authority said the latest incidents were “resolved without any risk to children”.

Healthcare and Transport Service (HATs) took over routes from North Birmingham Travel (NBT) in August after the latter’s contract was suspended over safeguarding concerns.

Following an audit of NBT, council officers said they “could only assure themselves” of Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks on 51 out of 110 employee records.

A report on HATs’ performance was discussed by councillors at a Education and Children’s Social Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting on Wednesday.

Papers suggested that “mobilising a new provider at short notice led to a downturn in performance which is now stabilising”.

A council spokesperson said five safeguarding issues had been reported for investigation, but had “overwhelmingly been dealt with immediately”, the Local Democracy Reporting Service reported.

The three SEND children taken to the wrong schools was due to a “data error”, the authority said, because “we did not have updated details for the child’s school information”.

The children were “safe at all times”, the spokesperson said, and subsequently “delivered to the correct school without further issue”.

The child taken to the wrong home was taken to the correct street, but the driver “waited at the incorrect house number” causing “a few minutes’ delay”.

And a fifth child “boarded the wrong bus but was delivered to their home address correctly”.

It is not the first time SEND children have been delivered to the wrong schools and last year a group of head teachers said they had no confidence in the local authority service.


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