Grantham mum’s school transport plea

Jessica Drechsler and Sarah Webster
Jessica Drechsler and Sarah Webster
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For two years a Grantham mum has been battling to get free school transport for her autistic daughter without success.

Sarah Webster’s 13-year-old daughter Jessica Drechsler attends Ambergate Sports College on Dysart Road.

They live across town in Canberra Crescent and according Lincolnshire County Council their home is just under three miles from the school, which means they are not eligible for free school transport.

But, claims Mrs Webster, other pupils of the school who live nearby are transported to the school by the local authority, while she has to pay for Jessica to travel to school by public bus.

Mrs Webster said: “There are other kids on the estate who go to Ambergate who get free transport, so I don’t understand why Jessica can’t have free transport too.

“Jessica was offered a place at Ambergate in September 2015 and we have appealed five times since she started there to try and get free school transport. We have been have refused because of the distance, refused on the grounds there is no physical need for Jessica to have free school transport and refused on the grounds that I’m not on benefits. I feel I am being discriminated against because I work.”

Because of Jessica’s autism, Mrs Webster has to accompany her daughter to and from school each day on the bus, which restricts her to working part-time only.

They have become so frustrated that Jessica has decided to take up the fight herself and highlight their situation.

In a letter to the Journal, Jessica said: “It’s really frustrating. I wouldn’t mind but many of my friends live a few minutes away and they get transport.

“Me and my mother take about four buses a day now since I can’t get transport. The school has been really helpful but it hasn’t worked, so I’m taking matters into my own hands.”

Jessica says that because of her autism she finds the journey to school on public transport very difficult.

David Robinson, children’s services commissioning manager for the county council, said: “This pupil lives within walking distance of the school so does not automatically qualify for free transport.

“If other pupils in the Grantham area get transport to the school it’s because they qualify for it due to the distance or on account of a disability.

“However, we’ve asked Mrs Webster to provide evidence of why her daughter needs transport but we haven’t had any response.

“We’d encourage Mrs Webster to get in touch with full details and evidence of why her daughter needs the transport and we can look at her case again – we can’t do anything further until we have this information.”