Mum of teenager with Down's syndrome fears he will not be safe on college bus due to Covid-19

Matthew's mum fears he won't be kept safe from coronavirus if he takes the college bus. Credit: ITV West Country

A Newquay family who have shielded for 180 days say they feel let down by Cornwall Council over their son's college transport.

17-year-old Matthew Lawrence has Down's syndrome and is at risk of pneumonia but in order to return to college, he will have to travel on a minibus with no possibility of social distancing.

Now, because of her fears, Sandy Lawrence faces a 66 mile daily trip by car to get Matthew to Truro College.

She says: ''My child should be able to go into a vehicle where there are less young people in that vehicle - say three, an escort and a driver in a nine-seater vehicle - so they could sit apart from one another and that those young people could be in the same bubble as they are in college.

"That's what's happening for mainstream children and young people and it's very hard for us parents of children with SEN (Special Educational Needs) and additional needs to understand why that's not happening for our children and young people.''

Matthew's mum faces a 66 mile drive to take him to and from Truro College safely. Credit: ITV West Country

Sandy Lawrence says they pay around £500 for the service but claims that it is not fit for purpose.

The college has put in many things to keep him safe but that little bit in the middle - the transport - it hasn't happened and that's why I feel so strongly that the council has let all the children with SEN and additional needs down in the county.

Sandy Lawrence, Matthew's mum

In a statement, Cornwall Council - which co-ordinates school transport - says: ''Parents can be assured that transport for SEND students has been arranged in accordance with the most up-to-date Government guidance. 

"Should parents of SEND children have particular concerns about the transport provided, then consideration will be given to providing a fuel allowance so that they can provide the transport themselves.''


Sandy Lawrence says she now faces three hours of travelling a day to take Matthew back and forth from home in Newquay to Truro College.

She says, ''I have been offered no alternative than for me to drive him in to keep him safe.''

Sandy Lawrence feels she has no alternative but to drive Matthew to college to keep him safe. Credit: ITV West Country