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Special school pupil missed 19 days due to ‘shambolic’ Education Authority transport service

Call for urgent review into provision amid claims of 'discriminatory' service

A pupil from Armagh missed 19 days attending Fleming Fulton School in Belfast because of “failures” in transport provision by the Education Authority.

That it the claim of a local MLA, who branded the situation “shambolic”.

And Justin McNulty has called for an urgent review of the service and has written to the Education Authority Chief Executive Gavin Boyd on the issue.

Fleming Fulton Special School in Belfast provides education and care to children and young people aged between three and 19 years. Pupils from all over Northern Ireland attend the school.

But Mr McNulty, a Newry and Armagh Assemblyman, has hit out after accusing the Education Authority of falling far short of the mark in terms of its obligations in relation to transport for those attending.

He said: “In recent months I have been made aware of ongoing issues with school transport provision for children with a disability attending Fleming Fulton Special School in Belfast.

“During the last academic year one child from Armagh missed 19 days because, citing mechanical issues, the bus failed to turn up.

“I raised concerns with the Chief Executive of the Education Authority and was assured the bus would be replaced, and it subsequently was.

“However, the issue persists as just last week the same problem happened again. This same child has already missed 10% of her school days this academic year because of issues with transport.”

He said it was “not acceptable” that this should happen.

“If children attending a mainstream school anywhere in the north missed 10% of their school days, there would be uproar,” added Mr McNulty.

“And the Education Authority Welfare Service would be involved and rightly so.

“Why should children with a disability have to accept a sub-standard unreliable service? It’s not on. It’s discriminatory, plain and simple.

“I have written again to the Chief Executive of the Education Authority and called for an urgent review of transportation from Armagh to Fleming Fulton Special School.

“And, in addition to that, I want to see a back-up plan put in place, so if a bus is unavailable because of mechanical or staffing issues an alternative provision can be put in place. This must be resolved as a priority.”

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