Little Heath School parents ‘angry’ over school bus confusion

Parents protesting outside of Little Heath School about the council decision to cut back on a door t

Parents protesting outside of Little Heath School about the council decision to cut back on a door to door pick up service for disabled children - Credit: Archant

Parents are feeling “insulted” after confusion over a pilot scheme to cut door-to-door bus services for disabled pupils, according to a school governor.

The comments come after Redbridge Council’s cabinet member for children and young people Cllr Elaine Norman insisted plans to replace services with pick-up points to collect children going to Little Heath School, Hainault Road, Little Heath, are “voluntary”.

The assurance was made at Thursday’s full council meeting at Redbridge Town Hall, High Road, Ilford.

Parents received letters notifying them of the pilot last month, sparking outrage.

The letter, seen by the Recorder, stated the move would ease pressure on traffic and “assist with increasing your child’s independence”.

However, Cllr Norman said at the meeting: “I am not removing home pick-up for SEN [special educational needs] students.

“Children that require door-to-door transport will still receive it. There is no compulsion for any parent to take part in this pilot.”

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She said it was part of a wider review into transport services for special needs pupils in the borough.

Parent-governor Jason Naicker, 46, from South Woodford, whose 18-year-old autistic daughter is at the school, said the lack of clarity was “incredibly distressing” after parents racked up more than 3,000 signatures in a petition against it.

He said: “Parents are angry – the letter I got was that the decision was made.”

He added: “It’s very much the case that people feel it could creep in anyway. It’s like they have made up their mind as to what they’re going to do.

“The service is a lifeline and now they’re saying the pilot scheme is voluntary, which is absolutely insulting.”

Speaking to the Recorder, Cllr Norman said: “I feel strongly it [any confusion] has not been of the council’s making.

“I’m very sad the parents have felt anxiety in this way.”

Last month a council spokesman said the authority would consult with parents. He added: “Officers will respond to questions and parents’ feedback will be considered before any decisions are made.”