Wheelchair using boy on a minibus

Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council plan SEN transport with confidence and clarity

Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council are able to approach the complex task of Special Educational Needs with new confidence by using QRoutes as the bedrock of their process.

“When our department began planning and managing SEN transport in 2015 there were 390 pupils.”, says Terry Smith of the Place Directorate Environment & Transport Barnsley MBC. “This year the number is 654 [a 68% rise] and we’re expecting it to grow by over 100 in the next couple of years. We’re also being asked to provide transport up to the age of 25 rather than 16”.

The team knew that to cope with the growing numbers they needed to fundamentally improve the way they plan and manage the contracts, and optimise the number of routes, vehicles, drivers and care assistants. They had heard about QRoutes from other authorities and opted for a 6-month trial of the cloud-based tool.

Efficient working practices

“What we noticed immediately”, says Sally Killips, Home to School Transport Consultant, “is how much more quickly we could plan.” The team found that by having the QRoutes maps up on a large screen they could look at each pupil’s needs methodically, updating the system and re-routing then and there if needed.

“By the end of a session we had then not only created the routes but had undertaken the SEND assessment for each pupil as well.”

Money saved on home to school transport

Barnsley’s largest school accounts for around a third of all contracts. The team found savings of around £100K by using QRoutes to optimise the routes. They went on to re-optimise all the trips for the remaining schools and identify a further 7 single occupancy taxis that could be combined with other trips, an annual saving of an additional £13K. Now that the routes have been contracted they see QRoutes playing a part in identifying the best way to handle changes and maintaining efficiency through the year.

Working with operators

“In tendering the contracts, it became clear that the types of vehicles available in the market were not a perfect match for our requirements” said Sally “We are now in discussion with operators and starting to influence them to acquire more appropriate vehicles, which will allow us to continue to develop and improve efficiencies.”

Planning with confidence and clarity

Sally summed up their experience with QRoutes – “It is a extremely useful system and has certainly helped the team through the summer. The planning season has not been as frantic as other years and one of our schools said it had been the smoothest transition ever.

We feel we’ve moved from a position of not knowing the best way forward to having a tool that allows us to be at the forefront of UK local authorities in our ability to plan and manage complex SEN requirements.

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