by Rory Sheehan
WREXHAM Council is being urged to look at issues in recruiting school escorts, a problem which has led to pupils being absent due to lack of provision.
Ceiriog Valley Councillor Trevor Bates (Ind) has submitted a topic for Wrexham Council’s Lifelong Learning Scrutiny committee to consider in seeking to address the problem of school escort recruitment.
Escorts are responsible for children, often with additional support needs, from when they leave their parents or carers – either at home or at a pre-arranged pick up point – until they in the care of the school, and similarly on the return journey.
Cllr Bates’s request is contained in the papers for the committees’ next meeting which takes place on Thursday (October 13).
“Wrexham Council is struggling to recruit escorts to accompany schoolchildren on their journey to and from school.
“This has resulted in some children missing school and the Council have been unable to meet their statutory obligation to transport children to their appropriate place of education.
“Not only is this affecting the pupil’s education but also the lives of parents have been affected meaning they cannot go to work because they have had to stay at home with their child/children.”
By bringing the issue to scrutiny, the councillor is hoping to identify any changes that can be made to the present policy and systems, or explore ways to attract new employees to solve the issue.
Comments made about the request by Cllr Bates, contained in the agenda papers from Wrexham Council’s Chief Officer for Environment and Technical, suggests a working group has been formed to look at the issue between departments.
“This needs to be a joint item for the Environment and Technical Department and the Education and Early Intervention Department.
“Environment provide the service, but within the school transport policies which are set by Education. Also, some of the potential solutions may fall within Educations’ remit.
“There is an Officer Task and Finish Group, comprised of officers from Environment, Education and HR, who are looking at this issue.
“Some of the task and finish group discussions have been about potential changes to policy as well as custom/practice – which would need to be determined by the council.
“Whilst the focus of this topic request is about school escorts, the review would benefit from being broadened out to discuss wider school transport policy.”
It is suggested that taxi drivers, bus companies, and teachers may be involved in discussion at a later stage if any proposals for change are identified as part of the review.