A family has hit out after their autistic son was banned from the school bus for special needs children.

The parents of Alex Booth, six, were told he was no longer welcome on the special Kirklees Council service that picks up children going to Woodley Special School in Huddersfield.

Kirklees school transport officials said his behaviour was too challenging for the one member of staff on board to cope with.

Janine Booth of Staincliffe with her 6-year-old son Alex Booth who is autistic and has been banned from his official Kirklees school bus.

The bus has a number of children with special needs and autism on board.

Alex has been travelling on the bus from Staincliffe to Lowerhouses for two years and his parents were given just a few days notice that he wasn’t allowed on it anymore.

Mum Janine says Kirklees has done little to try and improve the situation and has breached the guidelines to give them a month’s notice.

“They’ve said he’s off straight away and he can’t come back until his behaviour improves,” she said.

“You would think they’d understand that that’s not going to happen because he’s autistic.

“If it was that easy, he’d be in mainstream school.

“There’s always going to be a chance that he’s going to have a meltdown, that’s why he’s going to Woodley.

Janine Booth of Staincliffe with her 6-year-old son Alex Booth who is autistic and has been banned from his official Kirklees school bus.

“Their whole attitude is, it’s not our problem, it’s your problem, but a lot of the kids on that bus have autism.”

The council was approached for comment by the Examiner but it has not responded.

Janine told the Examiner Alex’s behaviour had got worse because the length of the bus journey had been almost doubled by officials so it could collect more children.

She said it now took about one hour and 20 minutes, which was far too long for him to cope with.

She explained: “He’s the first on and the last off.

“Originally the route was only 45 minutes and he was ok.

“Now it’s so long that he does get upset – he doesn’t understand what traffic is.”

Janine Booth of Staincliffe with her 6-year-old son Alex Booth who is autistic and has been banned from his official Kirklees school bus.

Janine said Kirklees had tried giving Alex a one-to-one escort to keep him calm but they gave up after just two days.

They refused to pay for an escort to take him in a taxi.

She is now forced to drive him to Lowerhouses herself, although Kirklees has offered to pay for her fuel.

The impracticality of the journey means Janine has to drop her eight-year-old son Kieron at a breakfast club at 7.30am and then rely on friends to pick him up from school.

Martin Kilgallon, founder of the Kirklees-based charity, the Whole Autism Family, said: “Kirklees do not appear to realise what the implications of autism are.

“Whilst this is a broad spectrum they seem to think one size fits all – it doesn’t.

“Parents coming to our charity have reported that their dealings with Kirklees as an authority are in general quite painful and staff are unaware of the complex needs of children with autism.

“We are advised by many of our members that several services within Kirklees continually fail to meet the needs of autistic children within the Kirklees area.

Autism campaigner Martin Kilgallon, with his family (l-r) Lenny, Tolan, Anne-Marie, Fredi and Mason.


“These services include, but are not limited to, the SEN Team, Kirklees Transport and the accessible homes team.

“According to our members and also from my personal experience, the SEN team are continually failing to listen to parents’ advice on what their children need from an educational setting.

“Many families end up going to tribunal at a cost to themselves and the taxpayer.

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“In most of these cases Kirklees lose the tribunal.

“We are led to believe at this stage the SEN team are happy to go to tribunal and take the chance that they might win.

“They fail to acknowledge the stress and grief this causes families of children with a disability and also the extra pain or anxiety this may cause the child at the centre of the dispute.”

Karl Battersby, Kirklees Council's Strategic Director Economy and Infrastructure, said: “Providing home to school transport for children with additional needs is often complicated, and the council has a duty to ensure that the children on its shared transport are safe and get to school ready to learn. When a child’s behaviour puts at risk the safety of themselves, other children and staff, we work with parents, the school and other relevant services, to agree ways to help the pupil to become more settled whilst travelling.

Sometimes there is a high risk to safety and we have to consider temporarily removing the child from a vehicle, whilst an agreed action plan can be put in place. When this happens, parents are offered an alternative form of transport assistance. We are currently arranging to meet with the parent and the school to discuss how we can move forward to provide a solution to this situation.