Home Taxi transport Autistic boy from Meir Stoke on Trent hasn’t been to school for...

Autistic boy from Meir Stoke on Trent hasn’t been to school for months | United Kingdom | News

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Samantha Bowe’s son Charlie, 12, spent six months out of class after leaving his previous secondary school, just weeks after joining Year 7. According to her family, the school staff simply could not meet her needs.

However, despite leaving school, Charlie technically stayed on the roll for several months afterward. His last lesson there was in October and he had no work to give him at home. As Samantha, 32, explained while speaking to StokeOnTrent Live: “It was affecting his mental health. He was really upset.

After filing for special needs court, she was relieved to be offered a place at Abbey Hill School in Meir, Stoke-on-Trent, where Charlie started last week.

“It’s the best place for him,” added Samantha.

Unfortunately, Samantha was forced to give up her job so she could drive him from their home to the special school four miles away. She says Stoke-on-Trent City Council has refused to provide school transport. Instead, officials offered the family a personal budget of £15.38 a day to make taxi arrangements themselves.

“I started calling taxi services and they were all saying they couldn’t take it,” Samantha said.

“Either they didn’t race at school, or they were full, or they said he was too young to be taken without a chaperone.

“Even though they could have taken it, I was getting quotes for some of them for £50 a day.”

She found out that another Abbey Hill pupil, who lives in the Staffordshire County Council area, qualifies for a minibus to school and travels through Trentham.

But as this transport is organized by a different local authority, they cannot use a spare seat. Samantha has to drop Mason, her seven-year-old son, off at Ash Green Primary Academy, Trentham, Stoke-on-Trent, before taking Charlie to school.

He now regularly arrives late for lessons at Abbey Hill. “It takes me an hour on the way to school in the morning and an hour in the afternoon,” added her mother.

Samantha’s boss at a cookware store even contacted the council on her behalf.

They said: “The local authority just said my boss had to be a bit flexible. It made us laugh because you can’t be flexible in retail. We’re just a small staff.”

Although work is still available if she can arrange school transportation, Samantha is currently out of work. And because she is appealing the council’s transportation decision, she had to refuse the personal budget, just as she pays for the fuel costs herself.

This is just the latest in a series of battles to ensure Charlie gets the support he needs. In addition to autism, he has learning difficulties and is the reading age of a six-year-old.

“We waited three years for his autism assessment. He finally got it this year,” Samantha said. She says it also took three attempts to get an education, health and care plan. care.

She fears the transport request was turned down “due to council cutbacks”. The city council has faced increasing pressure on its paratransit budget in recent years and stopped funding transportation after age 16 for affected students in 2020.

Councilor Janine Bridges, cabinet member for education, said: ‘We are sorry to hear that Ms Bowe is unhappy with the travel support we have provided. The town hall offers travel assistance to enable children who meet certain criteria to go to school.

“Ms Bowe has been offered a personal travel budget to subsidize her child’s travel costs. We have advised Ms Bowe that she can appeal this decision and the matter will now be reconsidered further.”