Melton teenager distressed by delays over her SEND college transport

A Melton teenager with learning difficulties has been left distressed by having to change college courses at a late stage and not having transport in place to start her studies.
Charlotte Clinch and her 19-year-old daughter, CaitlinCharlotte Clinch and her 19-year-old daughter, Caitlin
Charlotte Clinch and her 19-year-old daughter, Caitlin

Caitlin Clinch (19) was initially accepted onto a course at the Melton campus of SMB College Group only to be told it was being moved to the Brooksby site, along with most other study programmes.

Her mum, Charlotte, applied for special educational needs transport (SEND) – provided as a bus or taxi service – for her daughter before the deadline of May 31 set by Leicestershire County Council.

Unfortunately, the pathways course was then cancelled due to a shortage of numbers so Caitlin made an application for a similar course at Loughborough College, which she was accepted onto.

But there was then a delay over the SEND transport because County Hall initially told Charlotte her daughter had missed the deadline to apply for it – despite her application being already accepted for the cancelled Brooksby course.

It meant Caitlin was unable to attend the first week of her course last week, amid fears she would not be able to attend the course without SEND transport, before the county council finally confirmed this week that she would be able to travel to college with the service.

Charlotte, who is self-employed and cannot afford to drive her daughter to Loughborough each day, told the Melton Times: “Caitlin has been very stressed, particularly with the messing about with the colleges and now the transport situation.

"I took her there on the induction days but it is costing me money to do this and fuel would be expensive to take her to college every day.

“She was begging me to let her go on the Aviva bus to college but because of her needs there is no way she would be able to do it.

"It’s been heart-breaking really and I wouldn’t want other children with learning difficulties to go through this.

"It has not been good at all for her mental health.

"We where put in this situation through no fault of our own.”

Caitlin attended Birch Wood Area Special School and she is hoping the Loughborough College course will help her eventually move into employment somewhere.

Her mum is concerned about the affect the transport issues have had on her.

"It’s been awful especially when she’s just left school after being there for 13 years since the age of six,” explained Charlotte, who also has a 16-year-old son, Jamie.

"It’s just such a shame because she came on leaps and bounds at Birch Wood School – she loved it there – and now she’s had to go through all this.”

Leicestershire County Council sets deadlines for applications for SEND transport for the start of the next academic year.

This year, students aged 16 to 18 had to apply before March 31 and all other students by May 31.

County Hall’s website states: “Applications received after these dates are not guaranteed to have transport assistance in place for the start of the 2023/24 academic year.”