Links: School transport cuts and obligations

The BBC report on the number of cuts being made to “optional” school transport services, following a series of FOI requests by the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT).

There’s some important background in the report on what services are not optional:

“Local authorities are obliged to provide free school transport for pupils aged between five and 16 years old if their nearest school is more than three miles away. This goes down to two miles for under-eights.

“Children will special educational needs and some from low-income families also get some statutory assistance.

“But councils also provide school transport on a discretionary basis, which is especially valued in rural areas.”

The CBT is also trying to find out more about cuts to bus services more generally. You can add your own information at their website.

About Paul Bradshaw

Founder of Help Me Investigate. I'm a visiting professor at City University London's School of Journalism, and run an MA in Online Journalism at Birmingham City University. I publish the Online Journalism Blog, and am the co-author of the Online Journalism Handbook and Magazine Editing (3rd edition). I have a particular interest in Freedom of Information and data journalism.
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4 Responses to Links: School transport cuts and obligations

  1. h jones says:

    School buses transport many children around bucks’ crowded roads. the council are planning to take away free transport whcih children who live over 3 miles away from their school. At the moment it’s free if you go to your nearest catchment upper school or grammar school – bucks schools 100% selective – all kids automatically entered for exam. Now they say if there is another school nearer eg not your catchment, out of bucks, upper not grammar, then they won’t pay, and going to make it retrospective. So thousands of kids will need transport to schools where there is no public transport at the moment, and to schools they wouldn’t have chosen if they had known this. Council will sell spare places on buses if available, but if they cut all the buses there won’t be the places. if you get free school meals or have sen this won’t apply, so you can go to youer catchment school, but everyone else will have to pay if they live over three miles aaway. So rich middle class will all move even closer to the good schools, leaving rest of us poorer and at the poorer schools. No mention of any of the environmental impact on the area, the narrow roads and the houses nearest the schools.
    Example: child lives between Marlow and Stokenchurch Bucks. Catchment upper (not grammar) is Great marlow in Marlow. there is a grammar school in marlow too, on the Stokenchurch side. To the west of Stokenchurch is Oxfordshire, and there is an 11-16 comp in watlington. Bucks now say that if you live nearer Watlington than Marlow they won’t pay for bus to Marlow. If child passes 11+ and grammar is nearer than upper school (if southish in area) will pay for bus to grammar. If live northish then the upper or another in wycombe will be nearer so they won’t pay for the bus to the grammar (except if FSM or SEN) This is completely unfair and contradicts their selective policy.

    • Paul Bradshaw says:

      Would you like help investigating this? One avenue might be to FOI how many students will be affected by the retrospective element – so how many students currently getting free travel live over 3 miles away, for example. They might have also done some sort of assessment of how many students live in areas not served by public transport etc.

      • MrsH173015 says:

        I too live in Bucks, a selective County, where you have to opt out of the 11+ (not opt in). On 11 October parents receive a letter from Bucks CC informing us that a transport consultation was underway and that “if you are considering applying to a school further away than your closest secondary school, please be aware that there is a possibility you may need to contribute to the costs of transporting your child to that school from Sept 2012. A phone call to County explained this to me by saying if I wanted guaranteed transport, put my nearest catchment grammar as first choice in the school applications which I did in time for the deadline of 31st Oct. In Nov, the consultation re-opened with the added proposal that there would no longer be a differentiation between Upper and Grammar schools and that therefore if you lived closest to an upper school you would not be entitled to grammar school transport. All this after the applications closed. My boy passed 11+ and has been allocated our third choice grammar school 11 miles away. Bucks is also now making it clear that, as he is no longer ‘entitled’, his application will be treated as ‘discretionary’ for spare capacity on any bus and that this may or may not exist. They are under no legal obligation to transport him. So not the ‘may need to contribute to’ as stated in their Oct, but that they have no obligation to transport him at all. Can we challenge this? I would also add that in this area we have one upper school serving a large catchment area (and 3 relatively distant grammars). If all parents had put the US first, then I am sure it could be proved it would not have had the capacity to enable all pupils to attend so Bucks CC could never have delivered its obligations. Advice welcome. Thx.

  2. Pingback: School buses: transport information from Better Transport | Help Me Investigate… Education

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