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Norwich complex needs school launches new partnership to give its pupils free bus travel

PUBLISHED: 17:18 15 May 2017 | UPDATED: 09:36 16 May 2017

Parkside School pupils with First Eastern Counties buses managing director Steve Wickers, and their Titan bus passes as a partnership is launched to aid the children with learning and physical disabilities on the buses. From left, Emily Sewell, 14; Hannah Boon, 13; Phil Thacker, 15; and Geoffrey Bell, 16. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Parkside School pupils with First Eastern Counties buses managing director Steve Wickers, and their Titan bus passes as a partnership is launched to aid the children with learning and physical disabilities on the buses. From left, Emily Sewell, 14; Hannah Boon, 13; Phil Thacker, 15; and Geoffrey Bell, 16. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2017

Pupils from a complex needs school in Norwich will be given free bus travel to help them build independence thanks to a new partnership.

Parkside School pupil, Emily Sewell, serves First Eastern Counties buses staff at the school's White Lion Café as a partnership is launched to aid the children with learning and physical disabilities on the buses. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYParkside School pupil, Emily Sewell, serves First Eastern Counties buses staff at the school's White Lion Café as a partnership is launched to aid the children with learning and physical disabilities on the buses. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The Parkside School has joined forces with First Eastern Counties bus firm and Norfolk County Council to extend the council’s TITAN scheme, which helps students with disabilities travel confidently.

The new partnership was launched at the school’s White Lion Café, in Norwich city centre, on Monday, and will see free bus travel given to students and their mentors.

Parkside’s older pupils volunteer at the White Lion Café, which it took over in 2015, once a week as part of its curriculum, and the new link-up will help students make the journey more easily.

Bob Holderness, head of school, said: “Many of our pupils would be able to get on a bus and sit down, but they may have problems communicating with the driver, anxiety around where they’ll get off or what the button means to ring the bell.

Parkside School pupil, Phil Thacker, serves First Eastern Counties buses staff at the school's White Lion Café as a partnership is launched to aid the children with learning and physical disabilities on the buses. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYParkside School pupil, Phil Thacker, serves First Eastern Counties buses staff at the school's White Lion Café as a partnership is launched to aid the children with learning and physical disabilities on the buses. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“This is very special for us because it means all of our pupils are able to use the TITAN scheme to come to the café and return to school so travel is not a barrier to any of our pupils.”

Fifteen-year-old pupil Phil Thacker said: “For me it’s really important because I get to learn different times and different routes to the city centre, instead of using the one route.

“When I first started it used to be kind of nerve wracking and I used to have a partner with me but now I have grown up and I’ve had a lot of responsibility and now I just do it and have a lot of confidence.”

Adam Curtis, TITAN manager for the county council said Norfolk’s rural nature made it the perfect place for the scheme.

Parkside School pupils, Phil Thacker and Hannah Boon, serve First Eastern Counties buses staff at the school's  White Lion Café as a partnership is launched to aid the children with learning and physical disabilities on the buses. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYParkside School pupils, Phil Thacker and Hannah Boon, serve First Eastern Counties buses staff at the school's White Lion Café as a partnership is launched to aid the children with learning and physical disabilities on the buses. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“Norfolk is a fantastic place to live but unfortunately if you can’t travel it can become quite an isolating place,” he said.

“So of course being able to get out and about and travel is key, particularly for those with disabilities.”

First Eastern Counties will be providing buses for awareness workshops at the school and safety training.

• Do you have an education story? Email lauren.cope@archant.co.uk


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