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(UK) Northampton: Disabled 11 y.o. gets transport to school after protests/pressure

Sept 9, 2022, Northampton Chronicle: Council apologises after Northampton mother left 'appalled' when transport for disabled son's first day at school failed to turn up

E. Midlands

A mother of a disabled boy has criticised the council for not organising transportation for his first day of his new special needs school in Northampton.

The mother, who wishes to remain anonymous, was told on Friday, September 2 - three days before her son was set to start at the local authority-run Northgate School Arts College in Kingsthorpe - that he was eligible for West Northamptonshire Council's (WNC) transport to school scheme.

However, on Monday (September 5), the 11-year-old boy was ready for school but there was no transportation in place.

The mother said: "The fact is, on Monday morning, a child, who is slightly anxious about starting a brand new school and doesn't know anybody apart from one person, isn't sure if he is going to get picked up. In my eyes, it's just not acceptable. This is a service which is supposed to look after the most vulnerable and I just find that crazy.

"When I'm told there's a service in place, I expect that service to be there and to be communicated to me. These are vulnerable children starting school.

"It's upsetting. I don't know who is picking him up, when they are picking him up. And then we're left completely to organise it ourselves at the very last moment.”

The mother has since been sharing the responsibility between herself and other parents to pick up and drop off her son and another student….

"Apparently this is a hot topic [between parents at the school]. Plenty of children have not been given their transport, apparently, across the county. We're not an isolated case." Asked for her ideal solution, the mother said she hopes WNC can avoid this from happening again.

She said: "The ideal solution is that WNC takes responsibility for its lack of communication and organisation. It needs to remember the client it is dealing with are vulnerable children. And that they have this organised before children start school next year, so parents don't have to go through the same thing. It's stressful enough when your child goes to a new school."

After this newspaper got in touch with WNC, the issue has now been resolved, with transportation now in place for the boy.

Ben Pearson, assistant director for education at WNC, said: "I believe the situation has now been addressed and resolved but I apologise profusely for the error.

"The council will reimburse the parent for any reasonable costs incurred as a result of them having to transport their child to and from school in the meantime."

In other news regarding Northgate and WNC, a group of around 20 parents protested against the council for “failing” to provide education and support for their disabled children.

The parents demonstrated outside of WNC's Angel Square headquarters in Angel Street on Tuesday morning (September 6).


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