Dawn O’Donoghue: Our country is punishing young people who want qualifications and a job
I've just had a telephone conversation with a young lady who, despite my frustration, valiantly tried to remain calm. I, on the other hand, was not in the frame of mind to be either calm or placid.
The reason for my anger (and it takes a lot to rile me) was because my son and his friends were asked to leave the school bus at the end of their school day.
This wasn't due to bad behaviour but because they didn't have their bus passes, despite having documents to prove these had been applied for.
Bearing in mind that this is the only direct transport to our village (and they did offer to pay the fare) they stood their ground and, at 16 and far more confident than I was at that age, won their argument that to leave the bus would put them in danger or, at the very least, force them to make a ten-mile hike home.
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Arriving home early from work I rang the School Transport Service and was told that unless I paid that evening (they close at 5.30pm and it was gone 5pm) my son wouldn't be able to catch the bus the next day and would, as a result, miss important classes at school.
What right have they to deny him his education?
At this point (short of stamping my foot) I uttered every frustrated mother's cry of "it's not fair" before hurtling off to sign a direct debit because I didn't have the £360 required for a full payment.
For the past five years the village children have caught the school bus to go to their respective schools. The cost presumably coming out of the taxes I dutifully pay every month.
The bus leaves the village half empty, which is hardly environmentally sound or economical – so much for the East Riding Council's policies on both issues.
Sadly, our youngsters face economic baggage (with the prospect of spiralling university fees) but even on the first rung of the further education ladder, as they enter sixth form, are slapped in the face by bureaucracy – pay for transport or don't go to school.
My son still needs feeding, clothing and generally supporting (which I gladly do) and, when asking for help with funding, I was advised to throw him out of the family home son he could claim benefits for himself.
Tell me then, why does this country want to punish those young people who desperately want to obtain qualifications and ultimately forge a career?
If we want a better nation, equipped to compete on a global level, then shouldn't we be looking at supporting kids who aspire to do more with their lives rather than making it difficult for them?
No doubt if my teenagers ran with the pack, got mixed up in crime or addiction, they would be helped more.
Perhaps if I chose not to work, my case would receive a little more sympathy.
At least my children have learned early in life that life itself simply isn't fair.