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Northern Ireland’s annual spend on SEN pupil taxi transport nears £34 million confirms minister

In a recent session of the Northern Ireland Assembly, the costs associated with transporting pupils with special educational needs (SEN) were brought to the forefront during a debate on the 'Home to School Transport Policy'. Cheryl Brownlee of the DUP raised a critical question regarding the financial burden of SEN transport and taxi services.

Paul Givan, responding on behalf of the DUP, revealed that the government spent just under £34 million on taxi services for SEN pupils in the fiscal year 2023-24. This significant expenditure supports the daily transport of over 90,000 school pupils, including more than 10,000 with specified additional needs as outlined in their educational statements.

SEN transport is an essential service designed to ensure that children who have disabilities or require special educational provisions can attend school regularly. This service caters specifically to those who cannot use regular transport due to their physical, cognitive, sensory, or emotional needs.

The importance of SEN transport extends beyond just attendance; it plays a crucial role in the social inclusion of SEN students, facilitating their right to education and access to suitable learning environments. For many families, the availability of dedicated SEN transport is a critical factor that eases daily routines, reducing the logistical stress of school commutes and enhancing the safety and comfort of their children.

The bespoke nature of SEN transport services, which includes the provision of specially equipped vehicles and trained personnel, ensures that each pupil's journey to and from school is tailored to their individual requirements. This personalisation helps in accommodating a wide range of SEN conditions, thereby supporting the educational development and well-being of these students.


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