Concerns after pupils with additional needs left behind by school bus

Elisha Nayler was one of several pupils left behind on Monday night

Elisha Nayler was one of several pupils left behind at Suffolk Rural College on Monday night - Credit: James Nayler/ Sarah Lucy Brown

A group of college pupils with additional needs say they were left behind by their bus home as it was too full.  

Three pupils with additional needs were left waiting outside Suffolk Rural College on Monday night after they were reportedly told that there was no room for them on the bus.  

Elisha Nayler, 17, has sensory processing difficulties as well as anxiety and mobility issues.  

She attended an inclusive learning course at Suffolk New College last year before the course was relocated to the Suffolk Rural campus.

Her parents were told that she would be able to travel on public transport, namely the 118 bus run by Ipswich Buses.  

Elisha’s father James said his daughter had called him in a “total panic” on Monday because the bus driver had allegedly said he could take no more passengers.  

The bus only arrives every two hours and the students would have had to wait until 7pm to get back.  

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One of the girls left behind reportedly collapsed on the floor and broke down crying at being left behind.  

The pupils then had to call their families out to the school to retrieve them, with one pupil having to get a lift from another due to her parents not driving.  

“These young adults need support due to their learning difficulties,” said Mr Nayler.  

“Forcing them into situations where there feel vulnerable and unable to get adequate support to be independent just undermines their ability to learn how to live in society.” 

Steve Bryce, general manager at Ipswich Buses said it was unclear why the students did not board the bus.

"The bus in question is certified to carry 70 passengers, and our ticket machine data which has been backed up by CCTV shows It left Framlingham with 2 passengers, and a further 55 boarded at Otley meaning there were 57 passengers on board, so there were 13 spare seats," he said. 

"We are working with staff at the college to make sure there is no repeat occurrence and all students board the bus."

A college spokesman said, “It has been alleged that four students were refused entry to a bus that they were due to travel on after lessons.

“Therefore, we have been in contact with the bus company involved to help us establish the facts relating to this situation, as part of an ongoing investigation.

“During our thorough investigations so far, not only have we spoken to the bus company who are also investigating this, we have also spoken directly to the parents and guardians involved to inform them of the urgent measures we have taken. We have also spoken to all four students this week to individually support them too.

“It is vital that students, parents and guardians who use transport services related to the college feel safe at all times.

“Therefore, we have and will continue to work tirelessly with transport providers and our student services teams to ensure that this remains the case.

“It is also worth noting other staff members were on hand throughout the evening of September 13 to ensure students safely returned home, after this alleged incident took place, including the College’s designated safeguarding lead.”

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