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(UK) Cowie: 11 y.o. with autism denied transport to school

Oct 11, 2023, Daily Record: Cowie mum hits out at St Modan's transport issues after son rejected for bus spot


A Cowie mum has hit out at Stirling Council after they refused to provide transport help for her disabled son to get to school - despite accepting a placing request.
Toni Coates’ eleven-year-old son Doran lives with autism and is registered as disabled, as well as receiving mobility payments.

He attended St Margaret’s Primary in Cowie and despite his catchment school being at Bannockburn High, he wanted to attend St Modan’s High along with his friends.

Mum Toni put in a placing request which was accepted and then applied for a ‘priority pass’ for Doran to receive transport to and from school, but her request was turned down - forcing her to rely on family lifts or expensive taxis to ensure he gets to school safely.

Her story follows the case of Emma Kerr, who told the Observer last month about a priority pass application being turned down for her son Aaron to get to St Modan’s, despite reports that many of the services depart for the school half-full.

Toni said: “I’ve been trying to fight his corner all summer for this bus pass but I was just given the same blanket email as everyone else by the council. Doran doesn’t have the road awareness or concept of ‘stranger danger’ to take public transport safely; there is another child in the village in the same position so sometimes he can get a lift but otherwise it’s an hour-long lift in a taxi.

“Nobody seems to have got a seat despite there being room on the buses and someone at the school told me that they didn’t know of anyone on a placing request that had ever been given a pass.

“It feels as if the council just don’t want to give any out but it should be that children who can’t safely make their way to school without one should be high on the priority list.”

The issue of transport to the Springkerse school has been a hot topic, with cases such as Toni and Emma’s amplified by a recent petition signed by more than 220 people seeking a better solution to the problems.

Meanwhile, Toni has been left critical of the blunt response from council chiefs.

In correspondence seen by the Observer, Stirling Council head of education Bryony Monaghan wrote on Doran’s case: “As Doran is attending St Modan’s High School on a placing request he is not entitled to transport, either mainstream or ASN. This is part of our policy where even with an additional support need, if the young person attends a school that is not their catchment school, their right to transport is waived.”

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