Barnet Council began consultation with coach escorts who provide a service for children with special educational needs (SEN) on Friday 2 August 2013.
The impact on the majority of coach escorts could see their earnings drop from £8,891.67 to £5,845.84 a year.
The following are a number of accounts from coach escorts describing the work they do.
“Some people say my job is cushy sitting on a bus transporting disabled children to school. This is not the case. I work for Barnet Transport and as an employee I have to be fully qualified to escort these children, attend courses and have certificates to prove I have passed these courses. Some of the disabilities our children have range from “ADHD, Autism, Downs Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, wheelchair users, the list goes on.”
“We are the eyes and ears for the council as we work on the front line dealing with parents and the needs of the children who have a range of different disabilities. Some are extremely challenging and others are calm. Most of us are attacked on a daily basis, many of us have been punched in the face and stomach, kicked in kneecaps and legs, hair ripped out and our clothes torn to shreds.”
“Although we are trained to deal with this and calm the child down it is not always possible and we have to seek medical attention. We always complete a council monitoring form when an injury occurs but often no action is taken and the child remains travelling on the same bus. If a child is high risk we sometimes need to use a harness which keeps them in their seat but some children can get out of them. Agency Escorts are also used and should be fully trained the same as council escorts but there have been instances where they don't know how to put a harness on a child, or clamp a wheelchair securely onto the bus.”
“The council cuts our pay and hours but there are an increasing number of the children travelling on the bus. The council needs us to continue our excellent services. Escorts are only part time, if our money is cut further as they propose, then qualified escorts will have to seek other employment which would leave the children with agency escorts who are not as qualified.”
So here's one final question. How many councillors have taken a cut in allowances since the Conservatives won the Council elections in 2010? I think you know the answer.