A disabled boy whose severe learning disabilities mean he cannot speak was dropped off at the completely wrong school and left there for several hours in a disastrous transport mix up – and nobody knew who he was.
The poor lad was left in the school foyer by a driver who then drove off before the school could tell him the boy was not one of their pupils.
To make matters worse, the school the boy should have been at, which is in Birmingham, presumed he was not attending after a series of other transport mix-ups.
Birmingham City Council has now apologised to the family concerned, and there are now calls for an urgent investigation into the shocking incident to be launched, BirminghamLive reports.
Calling for an investigation, local Conservative group leader Cllr Alex Yip said: "This morning a child with severe learning disabilities was transported to the wrong school by transport providers, then left for hours without any means of identifying them, their correct school, or even their parents.
"The transport provider, after initially denying being responsible until CCTV footage was located and shared by staff, has been unable to identify the young person, and has allegedly been forced to send the driver back to try and retrace their steps. The police and social services have been contacted to ensure the safety of the child."
Cllr Yip, Shadow Cabinet member for Children's wellbeing, said: “I am calling for an urgent and complete investigation into how this major safeguarding failure of at least one incredibly vulnerable and uncommunicative young person with serious special needs could possibly be transported then left at the wrong school.
"It is unbelievable that potentially their school is unaware because missed collections are so routine, or even their parent doesn’t even know and cannot be reached or identified by council."
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The incident occurred on the day BirminghamLive also reported that the council's specialised transport service for children with disabilities was described as a "shambles" by parents, after some children were left without any kind of transport on their return to school.
And the service has also been blasted by schools and local councillors, with one headteacher describing the situation as a "fiasco".
The council's SEND service transports nearly 6,000 children with special educational needs and/or disabilities to and from school every day, with the service back up and running as children returned to school.
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However the service has been slammed as "unacceptable", with parents and teachers reporting how:
- Some children have not been collected at all, with individual schools having to make arrangements for transport.
- Schools have been left in the dark about travel arrangements less than 18 HOURS before pupils were due to return.
- Unannounced doorstep visits have been made to pupils to inform them of routes using incorrect data, meaning several turned up at the wrong addresses.
- Parents have been unable to contact the council's helpline, with some saying they were on hold for up to five hours with no response.
- No information has been provided to some parents about the drivers/guides on each mode of transport.
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One parent who has suffered due to the apparent lack of organisation has been Mary Riddell, who received a call on the day of her daughter Dakota's return to school to be told that her route had been aborted.
"Today no transport arrived," she said.
"At 11.55am I received a call to say the route had been aborted. No communication. I was also told that there may not be a route available home from school either.
"This is unacceptable. I really thought we had turned a corner. A prompt phone call on Aug 28 told me we had the same guide as last year and a visit from our new driver on Tuesday Sept 1 (though unscheduled) was a welcome thing.
"After three years of fighting this failed service I'm exhausted. My daughter's health and wellbeing is suffering which I will not stand for. I am a non-driver and reliant on this service to get her to school and under the current circumstances I would have thought getting these vulnerable children to school safely after everything would have been the council's priority."
Cllr Yip said of the chaotic service: “In the second week of chaos for the home-to-school transport service multiple schools across the city have been under tremendous pressure by late or cancelled routes with little-to notice, or with parents left waiting for hours for a transport service that doesn’t arrive or phoning an unreachable Travel Assist helpline."
And he concluded: “This deplorable situation is sadly not the first year this has happened and despite numerous reports and promises of change, the service has now been described as worse than ever.
"There has been, and still is, a complete lack of assigned responsibility with this service for the most vulnerable children in our society who have been repeatedly and routinely failed. Where are the answers and accountability?”
A Birmingham City Council spokesperson said: “We are currently investigating an incident involving a young person on our home to school transport today and have apologised to the family concerned. Until that investigation is complete we are unable to comment any further.”
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