School apologises for requesting ‘white British’ taxi driver for pupil

‘It’s like going back 50 years. We are not living in a draconian era’

Eleanor Busby
Education Correspondent
Friday 05 April 2019 16:45
Highfield School is a special school for boys and girls in West Yorkshire
Highfield School is a special school for boys and girls in West Yorkshire

A headteacher has apologised after a member of staff requested a taxi firm to send a “white British” driver to pick up a student.

An employee at Highfield School in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, emailed the local taxi company to say that the passenger would “not tolerate anybody who is not white British”.

The school, which caters for children with special educational needs (SEN), has a weekly transport arrangement with a local cab firm for many of its students.

It is understood that the request was made in an attempt to cater for the complex needs of a pupil.

Peter Marshall, executive headteacher at Highfield School, has apologised to the taxi firm.

He said: “We fully acknowledge that the email sent by the school was wholly inappropriate and we apologise for any offence that was caused.”

Mr Marshall added: “Our priority is to support our pupils, many of whom have extremely challenging and complex needs.

“Over 180 children from our school community use minibuses and taxis to enable them to access the highly specialised teaching and care we are able to provide for them.

“We very much value and appreciate the service that all taxi companies and their drivers provide.

“We have contacted the taxi company to apologise and explain the challenges and needs faced by the pupil the request related to.”

Wajid Ali, co-chairman of Wakefield District Private Hire and Hackney Association, which represents taxi drivers in the area, said it was like “going back 50 years”.

He said: “We try to promote equality and diversity and our drivers work very hard to keep professional standards.

“The majority of taxi drivers are Asian, but race or colour should not come in to it. This is the first instance something like this has come to light and everybody is very angry about it.”

“It’s like going back 50 years. We are not living in a draconian era,” Mr Ali added.

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Highfield School is a special school for boys and girls aged between 11 and 19 years old.

Pupils have a range of learning difficulties from autism to physical disabilities and impaired hearing and vision.

Additional reporting by SWNS

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