As well as helping pupils get to school, community transport enables students to access opportunities outside of the classroom, writes the Community Transport Association
The Community Transport Association (CTA) is the national body working with the providers of community transport helping them to remain relevant and responsive to key areas of public policy and make a big difference for people and families in the communities they work in.
Out of our 1,600 membership across the United Kingdom, there are currently almost 400 CTA members that are connected to education. These members are able to access CTA services which support them to deliver safe and legal transport. CTA membership enables schools to demonstrate their commitment to providing accessible and inclusive transport to their students.
In addition, there are around 2,200 organisations with a link to education, that have registered with the Minibus Driver Awareness Scheme (MiDAS) which enhances minibus driving standards by assessing drivers abilities, raises their awareness of passenger needs and gives them the tools to carry out their roles effectively and safely.
In this article, CTA highlights the role community transport plays in providing vital transport services that enable young people to access educational opportunities outside of a classroom setting.
STATE OF THE SECTOR
Community transport can be a key feature of the variety of services that students are able to utilise to get to and from school, and access educational opportunities outside of the classroom.
Our most recent State of the Sector report illustrates that 34 per cent of all community transport journeys are specifically to help people to access education. In addition, this report illustrates that 85 per cent of users of community transport have a disability.
From our data, and conversations with our members, we know how invested community transport operators are in providing transport to young people with specific transport needs.
Often community transport operators will utilise accessible conventional minibuses to do amazing things. As you may have seen from our latest #lovetransport campaign, where we asked members to reflect on their experiences of providing community transport, access to services was a key theme.
Paula Woolven of CTLA Community Transport based in Lewes, East Sussex told us she loves community transport because “it gives people the wheels to the world.”
As well as conventional home to school transport, many of our members provide services that enable students to access opportunities outside of the classroom.
For example, North Norfolk Community Transport runs daily services to schools and colleges across North Norfolk, Broadland and Norwich. In addition, they support schools by renting out their minibuses for outings and sports activities.
As well as the work that is currently going on in schools, there are two government initiatives that we believe can support, and strengthen, the work our members are already doing in schools. These are the Minibus Fund Round 2, and the Total Transport initiatives, launched by the Government in 2016.
The government recognises the vital role accessible and inclusive transport plays in connecting young people to a multitude of opportunities and committed £2 million funding for new minibuses in England.
The fund criteria sought applications from services that support education outside of the traditional classroom setting. The successful applicants will be announced in 2017 and the CTA will be supporting these organisations for the first two years of their award.
This funding will enhance the accessibility of our transport networks, to ensure community transport can continue to play a vital role in supporting educational opportunities.
The Total Transport Pilots will help ensure that this work can be targeted, coherent, and be as impactful as possible.
Thirty-seven local authorities were awarded funding through Total Transport Pilots to integrate transport services, including school transport.
ACCESSIBLE AND INCLUSIVE TRAVEL
As local authorities look at the potential for integration, it is possible to imagine how the already vital role community transport plays in an educational setting could be strengthened.
This could either be through new imaginative funding arrangements by local authorities and schools, targeting funding toward students who have the greatest transport needs, or through providing new support to local communities to create their own grassroots transport schemes.
The Community Transport Association is a national charity. We are for, and about, accessible and inclusive transport. Our vision is of a world where people can shape and create their own accessible and inclusive transport solutions so everything else in life can be accessible and inclusive too.
We support our members in a number of ways. We lead the sector with authority and responsibility, sharing good practice on our blog (www.ctablog.org) and through our twitter account (@CTAUK1) providing insights into the work of the sector, and curate information that can support innovation.
We highlight the vital work of community transport across a number of settings, to gain support for the sector, and ensure the work it does is recognised by a wider audience. We provide an advice line where our members can access the support they need to run their services within a safe and legal framework.
Our dedicated staff team work to ensure that community transport operators have the confidence in running their services, so they can concentrate on their vital work, ensuring that young people are able to get to school and take part fully in school life.
Finally, as a sector we are committed to continuous improvement and provide training to our members. Our MiDAS and PATS courses support the providers of school transport to operate their minibuses safely, and to assist passengers in accessing services.
These training courses are particularly important where there may be vulnerable service users, as in school transport. Community transport continues to plays a vital role in providing school transport where other services may not exist.
In a recent blog CTA Member Harborough Community Bus told us that they exist to “help people locally who otherwise would have difficulty getting out.” This is particularly important in school transport, where young people are supported by motivated organisations to get to where they need to be, and to ensure that transport is never a barrier to their educational attainment.
The CTA is proud to support and celebrate those organisations that spend every day in schools across the country working to provide indispensable transport services. If you would like more information about the Community Transport Association and our membership benefits contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.