Pupils with special educational needs (SEN) will be asked to travel to school independently despite less than one in five parents consulted approving of the council’s proposals.

Nearly 1,000 Croydon SEN pupils qualify for supported transport to school at a cost of £6.2 million a year, but plans expected to be approved on April 17 would see many asked to travel to school independently.

A consultation document distributed to 307 parents saw only 55 say they approved of the change, 18 per cent, while 142 were not in favour.

The council predicts the change will save more than £500,000 by 2014/15.

Councillor Kathy Bee, shadow cabinet member for education, said: "There is not a lot of honest in them saying the motivation for this is doing better things for children by increasing independence when actually it is motivated by money."

SEN pupils in the borough currently are provided door to door transport to get to school.

The changes would see the council determine the level of assistance available to pupils and offer a range of options including training to travel to school by public transport, though door to door would still be available for those with significant travel needs.

There will also be the opportunity for parents to take up to take up personal travel budgets for their children, receiving a 60p per mile allowance with given the option of how it is used.

Councillor Tim Pollard, cabinet member for children, young people and learners, said: "There will be many children with special educational needs who continue to need door-to-door transport.

"But these new options give more choice and the potential for greater independence.

"We‘ve already heard from parents in the pilot scheme that there can be some real advantages from these alternatives.

"Our trials have shown that many parents who adopt them, prefer them."