COLUMN: School travel scheme helps youngsters

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Most of us will remember the sense of freedom of travelling to school on your own for the first time. It can be a real milestone of independence.

This is why Nottinghamshire County Council’s independent traveller training scheme is such a fantastic idea.

It is helping boost young people’s confidence and self-esteem by preparing pupils with special needs with the skills they need to make own way from home to school or college each day.

I was delighted to meet many of these young people who have benefitted from the scheme as part of a recent event.

More than 50 pupils with special educational needs and disabilities from special schools across the county received awards to mark their achievement of being an independent traveller.

It was heartening to hear from many of the young people who spoke at the event who shared their own stories about what the scheme has meant to them.

This included how the experience and skills of being a more independent traveller is helping them when moving onto further education, work experience and increasingly their chance of employment.

And the event was also a chance to hear from parents. One mother spoke about how children don’t always want a parent to help them when it comes to them travelling on their own, so are more likely to listen to someone who is independent to help give them the skills and confidence they need. This includes using public transport and identifying landmarks to walk home safely.

So the scheme not only helping more young people to feel ready to travel on their own - which brings many benefits for them in the long-term - it is also reducing reliance on alternative forms of transport which can often be expensive. And with this week being Catch the Bus Week this scheme is even more relevant.

Currently there’s 415 pupils at 34 schools and colleges signed up project with 480 staff from schools, colleges, the voluntary sector and transport companies trained to coach the students taking part.

Since September 2016, 25 students across the County have become independent and now travel to and from school or college using public transport or walking.

To find out more about the scheme call 0300 500 80 80 or email itt@nottscc.gov.uk