Round-Up: School Transport Costs And A Stroke Consultation
September 9th 2014
School transport costsBack in July I asked whether Louth needs a dedicated school for people with moderate learning difficulties. There are 44 pupils who might benefit from one within Louth, and presumably more in East Lindsey as a whole. My freedom of information request didn't reveal exactly how many pupils with moderate learning difficulty there are in the district as a whole.
This begins to give us a picture of unmet demand for an MLD school in Louth, but it doesn't tell the whole story. So I made another FOI request to Lincolnshire County Council. I asked LCC:
"How much does the county council spend annually on home to school transport for children in Louth with moderate learning difficulties?" (A previous FOI request revealed there to be 44 children who this applies to).
"£144,827.50. The costs are a snapshot based on attendance of those 44 children this week (01/09/2014 – 05/09/2014), ongoing costs may alter throughout the year."
I asked LCC:
"How much does the county council spend on annual home to school transport for children with moderate special educational needs across the whole of East Lindsey?"
"£408,790.70. The costs are a snapshot based on attendance this week 01/09/2014 – 05/09/2014, ongoing costs may alter throughout the year."
It's not small change. However, compared with the running costs of a special needs school, or indeed any school, it's a fraction of the overall cost. The formula for working out how much schools get per pupil is explained in this DfE document (PDF). It's upwards of £10,000 per pupil per year for those with special educational needs.
Funding for pupils is something that moves with each child, so it's not the overall cost of running a school that matters, as much as the cost of establishing one. That would entail buying and adapting the buildings, recruiting staff, and any other setup costs. Those would largely be one-off expenses, whereas transport costs are ongoing.
So the question becomes, how much money could be saved from that £408,790 budget if a viable MLD school were established in Louth? Transport costs for MLD pupils are always going to be high because many of them will need specialist arrangements. However, they can be slashed substantially if children aren't being taxied to Lincoln, Gainsborough or Horncastle every day.
If, for example, a new school could halve the amount spent on school transport for MLD pupils in East Lindsey, then that might save over a million pounds over five years. Is a saving of a million pounds enough to justify a new school?
Unfortunately, it's not easy to predict how much money could be saved. There's always going to be an element of guesswork and parental choice, because the best school placement may not always be the nearest. This is a complex issue, and I'm not going to resolve it in one blog post.
Stroke services to move to Scunthorpe?I happened to be in the market place on Monday, where a bus was parked and people from the NHS were running a public consultation. After the fiasco with the libraries I can hardly use the word consultation without groaning. This time it's to do with hyper-acute stroke services, and ear, nose and throat surgery in North East Lincolnshire.
I was surprised to be hearing of this consultation for the first time, considering that it closes on the 26th of September. It concerns centralising these specialist services at centres of excellence in order to save costs and allow the specialist staff to maintain their skills. The most shocking aspect is that the Clinical Commissioning Group propose moving acute stroke care from Diana Princess of Wales Hospital in Grimsby to Scunthorpe General Hospital. That means anyone who has a stroke in Louth will be taken 40 miles away to Scunthorpe.
So, if you missed the consultation, which was held on a non-market day and not well advertised, go to www.healthyliveshealthyfutures.nhs.uk and fill in the form.
It seems to me that these consultations are all about taking away vital services, and then seeing who shouts the loudest in response. This is a move that clearly affects people in East Lindsey, but it hasn't been widely publicised here because Louth isn't part of North East Lincolnshire. So I doubt very much that the consultation will reach a fraction of the people it might affect, and that seems like a terrible way to make important decisions.
DiabolicalFrom one diabolical thing to another, I've been updating this site infrequently, partly because council meetings have been sparse over the summer, and partly because I've been hard at work on my next book. Diabolical Taste will be in ebook at the end of September and paperback in October. So that's all for this round-up, but normal ranting will resume shortly.
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