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Council withdraws special buses for disabled children with ‘no sense of danger’

Council withdraws special buses for disabled children with ‘no sense of danger’

🕔08.Jul 2013

specialParents of disabled children due to start special schools in September are receiving letters from Birmingham City Council refusing escorted transport on specially adapted vehicles and advising that they should catch a public bus instead.

Template forms seen by Chamberlain Files explain that a request for a place on a minibus has been turned down even if a child lives more than the maximum three miles walking distance from school, ‘has special needs, behavioural difficulties, has no sense of danger and would need to catch several buses to get to school’.

The form, from education officials, states that the request for home to school transport has been carefully considered, but: “We do not however consider there are any reasons as to why your child’s special educational needs should prevent you taking your child to and from school on public transport.”

A separate form for children under eight living under the two-mile qualifying distance for free school transport states: “We do not consider there are any reasons as to why your child’s special educational needs should prevent you walking with your child to school accompanied by yourselves as necessary.

“We do not consider there are any special reasons as to why you should not be able to arrange to take your child to school and also take other siblings to alternative schools.”

An official in the education department has confirmed to Chamberlain Files that refusal letters have been sent to parents of reception age pupils suffering from autism who are due to start school in September.

The council could not, though, confirm how many children with autism had been refused specialised transport.

The forms were drawn up following approval of a new home to school transport policy. Transport assistance for pupils with special educational needs will now only be considered if the child attends the nearest school to its home.

Parental choice of “a more distant school will not be supported”, the council confirmed.

The decision angered disability campaigners who pointed out that most people attending Birmingham special schools have to travel across the city because facilities are not available close to where they live.

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