HCT Group’s travel training project offers support to young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) by providing travel training, enabling them to use public transport independently, reducing their reliance on specialist door to door transport and leading to greater social inclusion.

HCT Group has tested travel training programmes in Leeds and Camden, training c. 500 people over the last 5 years. You can read about some of their stories in our case studies: Robert and Kyle. The BBC short film below also gives a flavour of how it works. 

Why travel train?
Who is it for?
How does it work?
What's next
Find out more 

Why travel train?

Pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) are not given the opportunity to become independent travellers, thereby increasing their dependence on State services and reducing their future life chances. The current system of providing transport to school has the unintended consequence of fostering dependency, not only while at school, but in adult life, as crucial life skills to access work or social activities are not learnt.

Benefits to young people we have worked with include improved access to after school and other social clubs and leisure activities, increased confidence and motivation to learn, access to further education opportunities and work experience.

Who is it for?

Independent Travel Training is suitable for those aged 10+ who are currently eligible for home-to-school travel assistance and who have:

  • An awareness of danger or risk
  • An ability to respond to danger or risk
  • Ability to respond to verbal directions
  • Ability to learn to make decisions and act upon them
  • Ability to learn to communicate needs
  • Ability to learn to seek and accept help from an appropriate source
  • Ability to negotiate kerbs, steps, lifts, transport
  • Understanding of the need for socially acceptable behaviour
  • Sense of personal safety
  • Way of identifying simple numbers
  • Capacity to be motivated

How does it work?

The approach starts with a route and risk assessment for each individual, with a suggested route and mode of transport agreed between co-ordinator, trainer and trainee. At this starting point, the trainee undertakes a wellbeing assessment.

Initially, the trainer meets the trainee at their door and escorts them the entire length of the journey, covering a number of key transferrable skills along the way. Key skills include route planning, fare management, road safety, personal safety and communication.

After a number of sessions, and once the trainee has built confidence and some travel competence, the trainer will arrange to meet them somewhere along the first part of the journey, at the bus stop or train station, for example. Once this has been successfully navigated, whilst continuing the skills training, the trainer gradually increases the amount of independent time the trainee spends on the journey until they are completing the journey alone, with the trainer shadowing.

As training is one-to-one, the training schedule can be amended to fully meet the needs of the trainee and ensure readiness before moving on. Once the trainee has completed a number of journeys independently, including using an additional route, the Co-ordinator will arrange a sign off session to include the trainer, trainee and carer. This could also include the school and a member of the LA transport team. The training records would be reviewed to check that all criteria have been met and the trainee would be signed off as independent.

What’s next?

HCT Group are developing new Travel Training programmes, using a Social Impact Bond, or Payment by Results approach. This means that we can develop a large scale programme in a new area using funding from a social investor, enabling the Local Authority to pay only when they see positive results.

Find out more 

To find out more, please contact Amanda Anderson, Director of Independent Travel on 020 7608 8962 or amandaanderson@hctgroup.org

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