Court of Appeal judgment on school transport loophole

3 mins read

Thursday 9 April 2020

The Court of Appeal has found that Leicestershire County Council’s policy to cut school transport for 16-18 year olds does not discriminate against Kirsty Drexler, a disabled youngster who needs school transport to finish her education.

Stefan Drexler, Kirsty’s father, says:

“We are grateful that the Court of Appeal allowed us to put forward our views and we respect that a judgment has been handed down, but we are determined to keep fighting, as so many families rely on this service. We are now seeking to appeal in the hope that the council will eventually reconsider the changes.”

Una Summerson, Contact’s Head of Campaigns, says:

“We are bitterly disappointed by this judgment as it will affect so many families. The Drexler family, who have fought this case on behalf of their disabled daughter Kirsty, are an inspiration to us all.  

“We would urge Leicestershire Council not to go ahead with their change of policy, and give parents like Stefan and Lucy Drexler a break from the endless battles they face  and let Kirsty go on the school  bus which she loves when the schools hopefully re-open in September.”

We will press on with our campaign to close the school transport loophole.  It is grossly unfair that the law says a young person is expected to be in school or training until 18 but does not have the right to transport to enable them to get there once they turn 16. This puts disabled youngsters at a huge disadvantage compared to their non-disabled peers as they often have to travel further to school and many can’t travel independently. So school transport is fundamental to enable them to continue at school and college.

Earlier this year we published new research that shows increasing numbers of disabled teenagers are being charged or denied school transport after their 16th birthday due to the loophole in the law and council funding pressures.

Our research found:

  • 79% of disabled young people are denied or charged for school transport or face disruptive changes when they turn 16:
  • One in 10 disabled young people are paying over £1000 a year for school transport

Our survey of 525 parents of disabled children aged 16-18 in England found that these charges and changes are taking their toll on families already under enormous pressure: 

  • 45% experienced increased stress
  • 47% experienced financial difficulties as a result
  • And one in 10 reduced their working hours or had to stop their child attending school.

If you have a question about school tranport please see our webpages written by our dedicated team of specialist education advisers.