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October 8, 2003

Get our kids to school on time, please

From: South London Press, UK - Oct 8, 2003

SIX deaf children are missing out on their education because the council-run bus can't get them to school on time.

By Friday, the children, who attend Meridian Primary School, Old Woolwich Road, had been late for school 14 days out of a possible 18 this term after travelling on a special bus provided by Greenwich council.

Chris Sunderland, head of the hearing impairment unit at the school, said: "This situation cannot be allowed to continue because it's having a detrimental effect on the children's education.

"We have special speech and language classes first thing in the morning, which the children cannot afford to miss. Sometimes they arrive as late as 9.40am, long after school has started.

"It's having a considerable impact on the lessons."

Sharon Goacher, 36, of Bargate Close, Plumstead, has three profoundly deaf children who need special transport to get to school. Her daughter Kayleigh, seven, takes the council-run bus to Meridian Primary School every morning.

Mrs Goacher said: "It's an absolute nightmare. It's bad enough that I can't take Kayleigh to school myself it's even worse that she arrives late every morning because of it. She has been turning up well after 9am when lessons are supposed to start.

"If I was taking my child to school late every day I'd be in trouble. But the council can do it and get away with it."

Ms Sunderland said the council used to provide two bus rounds to cover the same area. She said that after three children left the school the town hall decided to cut the service down to one bus which means it has to cover a wider area.

A Greenwich council spokesman said: "Since this problem has been brought to our attention we have been working to get a quick and satisfactory resolution."

And speaking directly about Kayleigh's case he added: "Due to unforeseen circumstances on the route Kayleigh has not benefited from the changes made at the start of the term."

Ms Sunderland said: "I would like to see a return to two bus rounds. When the council said it was cutting the service back I said it wouldn't work because of the distance between the children's houses."

© owned by or licensed to Trinity Mirror Plc 2003