Yesterday’s parent coffee morning at school was well attended and we saw some new faces, who stayed the whole morning too. We covered lots of topics but there was one issue that was a problem for many of the group, that of School Transport. When your child attends a special school, the local authority provide transport to and from the school. We have been very lucky as for most of the time that Joshua has been at this school, he has traveled in a taxi with just him, the driver and an escort, so they have gone straight from our house to school, with him being collected at around 8.15 and getting home before 4 pm.
I realised yesterday how fortunate we have been, even though once in 6th form we have to make a £500 contribution towards the travel costs for the year. Since the new term began, other families have had terrible issues with school transport : One 6th former, despite his parents paying his contribution, has not been provided with any transport as the council seem to have forgotten about him, even though he has been using school transport for years. He gets distressed as he sees his regular bus pass by his house, en route to collect fellow-pupils, but it no longer stops for him. Instead his parents have to juggle jobs and three other sons going to mainstream schools and somehow get him to school themselves. That is bad enough, but the Transport department appear now to be ignoring Mum’s calls and emails so we are two weeks into term and their mistake has still not been corrected.
Two other Coffee Morning Mums have daughters on the same school bus, which is taking such a long route home, that although school finishes at 3.15, it has often been nearer 5 pm before the girls are getting home. Another mother had refused to put her young son onto the bus that had arrived for him at 7.30 just because the driver was passing by on his way to collect the escort so it suited them. So too many children are spending too long on the buses, so that they can fit more on and use fewer buses it seems. But that is unfair as they will be tired and potentially agitated by the time they get to school , so it could set them up badly for the rest of the day. One Mum has now taken her autistic son off transport and she receives petrol money to drop him off and collect him herself, and as a result, he is much more settled at school as a long, noisy bus ride was not how he needed to start his day when he only lived 5 minutes from school.
So it seemed to be a topic that is creating a lot of problems and hopefully, by the next coffee morning in a month’s time, it will have settled down into a better routine. But it certainly made me appreciate that system that we have in place, Joshua is a very lucky young man to be chauffeured to and from school in relative luxury and on a direct route too.