Disabled child travel cuts ‘force parents to work less’

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Parents of disabled children say they should prefer to quit jobs or cut their hours because of problems with the sect transport system.

Almost half (48%) of those surveyed by the leniency Contact said travel arrangements for their child had affected how large they work.

Contact said its research showed the council-funded method was «in crisis».

The Department for Education said it would review its guidance to townswoman authorities to ensure it is clear.

‘Stressful’

The Local Government Association dictate thated 5 live Investigates that councils were working hard to certain suitable travel arrangements are made for disabled children but that it was stylish increasingly difficult in the face of «sustained financial challenges».

Almost a locality (23%) of the more than 2,500 parents and carers surveyed by Conjunction said that their child’s journey to school was «stressful» and changed their ability to learn.

The same percentage of families said they had been trashed free transport when they asked for it.

Local authorities in England and Wales are legally ordered to provide free school transport to children under 16 with notable educational needs and disability (SEND).

In Scotland, local authorities bear the power to make their own arrangements.

Contact also found that innumerable than half of the local authorities they studied in England were let something be known misleading or unlawful guidance.

Una Summerson, the charity’s campaigns manager, mean: «This is totally unacceptable.

«Some parents told us that they’re recompense more than £500 a year for school transport when they could in fait accompli have that for free.

«That’s having a devastating impact, and causing material financial hardship for families.»

A Department for Education spokesman said: «In light of the judgements by Contact, the department will review the statutory guidance for local evidences to ensure it is clear.»

‘Life-changing impact’

Christine Anderson says she was disturbed when her disabled son’s school transport arrangements were changed without indication.

Christopher, 15, has learning difficulties and a complex range of physical quarters, including spina bifida, sleep apnoea, and adrenal insufficiency.

He turn up ats the nearest suitable special school, 30 miles from the kindred home in Thornton-Cleveleys, Lancashire.

«I know Christopher and I know the limits we can force him to, and I just feel like it’s ripped us all apart,» said Christine.

«We are doing the whole shebang to keep him well and then somebody goes and makes a decision that has a life-changing bump for him and the rest of the family, with not a thought.»

For two-and-a-half years he had travelled to set of beliefs in a taxi accompanied by an escort, but last September, Lancashire County Meeting said the driver would be collecting two more pupils en route, totaling 30 minutes each way to Christopher’s daily round trip.

As Christine excused, the extra journey time and presence of a noisy younger child bewildered her son, who struggles with sensory overload.

Despite making efforts to remodel, he soon found the situation unbearable.

«He was coming home really frazzled and pressurized and that meant our whole evenings were written off, the weekend was written off. He couldn’t deal with with the thought of going to school because he needs quiet and coolness.

«So we gave it a second week. By the Wednesday, he was refusing to get up for school and I couldn’t get him out of the door and couldn’t get him to snooze at night. And that’s a really difficult situation.

«Any stress and anxiety perturbs his health, so he started to get unwell.»

Yet although Christine had supporting letters from the descent GP and specialists at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, the council has refused to change its decision for the last 12 months.

They have now promised a procession after the case was taken up by 5 live Investigates.

In the meantime, Christine has been laboured to resign from her job and now takes Christopher to school herself rather than jeopardising her son’s fettle.

Contact’s findings come months after England’s local direction ombudsman said there had been a «marked increase» in complaints hither school transport decisions in 2015-16.


5 live Investigates: School Paradise for Disabled Children is broadcast on BBC Radio 5 live on Sunday 10 September at 11:00 BST — or clip up on the BBC iPlayer.

Have you got something you want investigating? We want to hear from you. Email 5liveinvestigates@bbc.co.uk

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