A relieved mum heard through the Free Press that her autistic son’s transport costs to an independent school are being met, ending months of worry.
Alice Husband (43), from Tydd St Mary, believed she faced a £170 a term bill she couldn’t afford for Oliver (17) to go to the school Lincolnshire County Council (LCC) picked for him in Girton, Cambridge.
Alice says Oliver’s transport costs weren’t included in his special needs statement once he turned 16 and last month she launched a petition to change Government policy by extending the 16-19 transport bursary to pupils placed in independent settings.
The single mum believed the residential school had met the costs last year for a taxi to pick up Oliver on a Monday and take him home on a Friday.
We raised the family’s case with LCC and David Robinson, children’s commissioning manager, said: “We are providing the transport and covering the cost having looked at all the information on this case.
“The student has been placed at an out of county school on a weekly residential basis by the council to meet specific needs. There was never any question that the council would not meet the transport needs of the student concerned – it has simply taken a little while to sort out.”
But Alice told us she didn’t know that until we read Mr Robinson’s statement to her on Thursday.
She said: “They (LCC) have not officially told me I am not supposed to be footing the bill at the moment. I have not received any letters demanding money whereas last year I was receiving letters saying you will be going to court if you don’t meet these costs.”
LLC says free, post-16 transport isn’t something it must provide by law.
On Friday, Mr Robinson said LCC had spoken to Alice to “confirm and reassure her that the transport is in place”.
He explained the council pays nearly all of the cost of transport support for post-16 students with special educational needs or disabilities and asks parents/carers to pay an additional, smaller contribution, as it does with mainstream students.
Mr Robinson said the parental contribution can normally be met from bursary funding given to colleges/schools.
He added: “However, the independent college for this student does not receive this funding so having looked at the circumstances, we are paying for all of the transport costs.”
Oliver has attended the same school since Year 6 and believes autism is a gift and that one day everyone will be born that way.
Alice said: “Oliver says autism is the next step up in human evolution.”
Oliver likes developing computer games and wants to study that in the future.
Autism is a condition characterised by difficulty in communicating with other people and in forming social relationships.
Many autistic people are academically gifted.
Alice says: “Oliver is very bright academically and intellectually but socially and emotionally he struggles to understand other people’s perspective and the need to accommodate them.”
You can sign Alice’s parliamentary petition by clicking here
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