HCT Travel Training - Bridges Fund Management








HCT Travel Training

Teaching children with special educational needs how to use public transport independently

Investment Strategy

Outcomes Contracts


Stronger Communities

Date of initial investment

January 2017

Bridges Executives

Andrew Levitt

Challenge: Children in the UK with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are entitled to free transport at the local authority’s expense if they are unable to walk to school – usually via private buses, minivans or taxis. Whilst for many young people this is the best option, for some, with the right support and training they could be trained to travel independently. In doing so the council can save significant amounts of funds, but more importantly the child is able to build valuable social skills and independence.

Investable Solution: Specialist travel training gives young people with special educational needs and disabilities the skills and confidence to travel independently on public transport. HCT Group, a social enterprise bus operator that uses its profits to provide community transport services, have been providing this training for five years, teaching over 500 young people with SEND in Leeds and North London. The programme starts with the trainer travelling the whole journey with the young person, helping them understand how to negotiate the transport system and manage the risks. As the beneficiaries’ skills develop over time, they will undertake more of the journey on their own, with the trainer shadowing to ensure knowledge has been embedded. Once they are travelling safely and completely independently, they will be signed off as able to travel independently.

The key difference between this programme and previous contracts is that the Local Authority will only pay when the young person has been signed off as able to travel independently. They will then make further payments after the young person sustains independent travel over the next year. This way, the Local Authority is only paying for successful outcomes with Bridges providing the initial capital to deliver the programme and taking the risk if the training is unsuccessful.

Outcomes: HCT’s travel training programme will work to deliver positive social impact in three distinct categories:

  • Direct beneficiary impact: HCT will work with up to 200 children with special educational needs and disabilities over the course of five years. Benefits will 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.
  • Systemic beneficiary impact: Providing independence to young people with SEND will provide a significant amount of relief to their families in terms of time and resources.
  • Systemic market-building impact: HCT and Bridges have worked to keep the contract model simple and aligned to the commissioner’s priorities. Payment only happens when the young person is independently travelling and not using council provided transport