A SECOND family has described Northumberland County Council’s post-16 transport policy as “discriminatory” against people with learning disabilities.

Jill Wilkinson has been forced to drive her daughter, Sacha, from Allendale to Newcastle so she can attend Hedleys College.

Sacha has Rett Syndrome, a rare genetic neurological and developmental disorder that affects the way the brain develops, causing a progressive loss of motor skills and speech.

Her place at the college means she can develop communication skills thanks to a number of specialist professionals - but the county council’s post-16 transport policy states the authority will only agree transport costs for students attending college and studying at a higher level than they did at school, according to the government’s education framework.

Jill said: “It’s a 36-mile drive and the council really don’t want to pay for her to go. I’ve had to do it this week, four times a day. It’s unsustainable for me to do that.

“There’s nothing in the area that’s similar. We wanted Sacha to go to Hedleys because she’s non-verbal and struggles with her hands, but she does use an eye gaze communication tool.

"Hedleys have all the therapies these young people need. Sacha needs the education and specialist speech and language support."

Last week, a spokeswoman for Northumberland County Council said the authority was reviewing the policy as a matter of urgency following concerns raised over it.

However, when contacted for comment on Sacha's case, there were no updates on that review.

Jill talked about the difficulties parents face bringing up a child with disability.

She continued : "When you know your child has the ability and they won't provide the transport, it makes you very angry.

"As a parent of somebody with disabilities, you're always fighting to get the best for them.

"It's none-inclusive and it's discriminatory. They really make you feel you're making the wrong decision and you're wasting council money.

"It's often the most complex young people who get written off, but they do have the ability and they should be able to carry on in education and achieve the most they can before they go into social care."