Many parents of disabled children have had to cut down their working hours or leave their jobs in order to get their children to school.
In a newly published survey from disabled children’s charity Contact, almost half – 48 per cent – of parents claimed that problems with school transport had negatively affected their work. Almost a quarter – 23 per cent – also said these issues had been harmful to their child’s learning.
The same percentage of the more than 2,500 parents and carers polled said they had been refused free transport from their local authority when they had asked for it. In fact, many admitted they were paying around £500 per year in transport costs for their children.
Contact Campaigns Manager Una Summerson said this was “totally unacceptable” as it was “having a devastating impact, and causing real financial hardship for families”.
The charity’s Chief Executive, Amanda Batten, claimed that “for disabled children and their families, school transport … is in crisis”. This was a serious problem because “if a child can’t get to school, or has a stressful experience getting there, they aren’t able to learn or take part in the school day like other children” she explained.
A spokesperson for the Department for Education (DfE) insisted the government was “investing £222 million over four years to help local authorities improve special educational needs and disability (SEND) services”. All children with SEND should have their transport to school provided by local authorities, and the DfE would “review the statutory guidance for local authorities to ensure it is clear”.
Photo by Steve Johnson via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.