When your child attends a special school, the council also provide transport to the school as they tend to be further away than your local mainstream school. Joshua has always been fortunate not to go to school in a bus with lots of other children on his route, so that it takes forever picking up and dropping off, but for the last few years, he has gone to school in a taxi just with his escort. His seizures and our distance from school have ensured that he has enjoyed this luxury for a while now and he has been fortunate enough to have kept the same escort since he started at Special School. Until Joshua is sixth form age, this transportation is provided free of charge.
It is a good service, that I am grateful for, now that the council have stopped trying to take short cuts in Joshua’s provision, as we are now agreed on his needs. It allows me to be at work for 8.45 and on days when I am meeting him, I can stay at work until 3.30. But there are three main downsides of this system :
- Joshua does not have the opportunity to walk to school, as I always did, due to the distance involved. It is a 25 minute drive away, so even if Joshua were more mobile than he is, school would be to inaccessible to walk to. Walking to school is both sociable – I used to chatter away to my friends en route to school – and good exercise, whereas now so many children arrive by car, delivered by their parents
- We as parents miss out on the ‘school gates’ experience, when we can meet and talk to other carers when delivering and picking up our children. That is an opportunity to share information , to make friends and to become more of a part of the school community. It is isolating to wave our children off from home as our only real link then is with the escort and driver.
- When Joshua was at his local mainstream primary school, I used to take him there and collect him at the end of the day. So I was able to tell his teacher or teaching assistant, what kind of night he had had and how the morning had panned out so far. Then I used to love to hear all the stories of his exploits during the day, when I met him at 3.30pm, and I had the opportunity to ask questions too. I knew who the people were in Joshua’s class, his peers and the school staff, they were not simply anonymous names. But that is not the case at a Special School, staff do not know who we are and, unless we go into school a lot as I do, we do not know them either, which is an unsettling feeling as we then are sending our precious children into the unknown.
Joshua does enjoy his taxi ride to school, using it either to chill out by listening to the radio or more frequently, grabbing some extra sleep!