SEVERAL autistic children in Newport have been left in limbo at the start of the new school year, following weeks of indecision and poor communication by the city council, their parents said.

The children, who are all meant to begin their post-16 education at Priory College in Pontypool this week, were promised by Newport City Council that their school transport, including a carer, would be provided at the start of the new term.

But this has failed to materialise – parents say their calls and emails to the council have been ignored, and their vulnerable children are in danger of missing out on going to college. Because of their additional needs, each child needs constant supervision by a trained carer.

One of those children is 16-year-old Harry Peach.

"Harry's exceptionally anxious – he needs routine," his mother Claire said. "Transition is difficult for someone with autism, anyway, so this is really unfair and unkind."

So far this week, Harry's parents have taken time off work to make sure he can get to and from school. Unfamiliar places and situations cause him distress, they said. The last time he went on a public bus, accompanied by his father Mark, Harry was visibly shaking.

"If we have to withdraw him [from Priory College], the worst-case scenario is that he'll be at home for the rest of his life," Mrs Peach said. "That's not much of a future at the age of 16."

Mrs Peach said Priory College was the only place locally where autistic children like Harry could get the post-16 support they needed – applicants are assessed before being given a Welsh Government-funded place at the college.

Newport council has in the past provided transport for the college's Newport-based pupils, and this year parents said they had been told by council staff not to worry, because their children's transport would be arranged.

But as September approached, the parents became increasingly worried that something was amiss.

Claire Selwood was assured her son's transport would be taken care of, but despite countless phone calls and emails to the council, there has been no update "for weeks".

"I don't want to withdraw him, he needs this education," Mrs Selwood said.

"It's distressing for him. He doesn't understand – it's knocking his routine and causing him emotional distress."

She added: "The worst thing is there's no contact, no update, no emails – the council aren't giving us anything at all. I'm absolutely disgusted with them."

Juliette Davis, whose son Luke is also without transport, said she feared the city council's delays would ruin any chances of him getting an education in this school year.

"I just want Newport council to do what they should have been doing – what they've done every year," she said. "If they won't provide transport this year, why didn't they tell us earlier?

"Now Luke can't go anywhere else, because the places are all full."

Mrs Davis said she had been told at one point the council would need to assess each child before transport could be provided – something she said was unnecessary, given the children had already completed the comprehensive application process for Priory College.

Another parent whose child is affected by the delays is Diane Ebo.

"I was assured my son would be given transport because of his conditions," she said.

"These youngsters are themselves being let down due to a lack of communication from Newport City Council."

She added: "We need to know where we stand. I think [the council] needs to be true to their word so our youngsters can continue with their education.

"They are vulnerable members of society. We don't want bureaucrats and councils thwarting all the efforts we've been making as parents."

A spokesman for Newport City Council said the authority was aware of the issues, adding: “Provision of post-16 home-to-school transport is not a statutory responsibility of the council and each application has to be assessed on an individual basis. This process is now ongoing.”