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Scrapping free school buses could kills off two schools - claim
4:10pm Monday 28th October 2013 in News
TWO high schools could become unviable if changes are made to school transport, according to a council leader.
Essex County Council’s consultation over proposals to cut free school bus travel ended on Friday.
Peter Halliday, leader of Tendring Council, said is concerned the proposals will have a detrimental impact on two rural schools - Colne Communty College in Brightlingsea and Manningtree High School.
Under the proposals low-income families will only be allowed free transport to their closest school.
Mr Halliday has written to Ray Godding, county councillor responsible for education, to ask for Tendring’s high levels of economic and social deprivation to be taken into account.
He also asked for the districts’ large rural population and mixed demographic to be considered.
Mr Halliday said proposals could mean schools in Brightlingsea and Manningtree do not fill their places.
He said: “Colne and Manningtree schools have a large number of students from areas to the east of Colchester.
“Under the new proposals those students will only get help with transport to their nearest school, which would be in Colchester.
“This could result in the two schools in our district not filling their places and make them unviable.”
Mr Halliday fears it will lead to many low income families being hit hard because they will not have the money to pay for transport.
There are also fears forcing post-16 students to pay for school transport could prevent young people in Tendring realising their potential.
Mr Halliday said: “We would like to see Essex County Council investigate cheaper ways for students over 16 to travel instead of having to pay full adult fares.
“After all, education after 16 has been made compulsory by Government.”
Essex County Council are expected to discuss the results of the consultation in December.
- Essex County Council spends £25million a year on home to school transport, but needs to slash its budget.
It is proposing to only provide free transport for pupils to attend their nearest school.
Grammar school pupils from low-income families would also lose their free bus passes.
The council also plans to means-test families of disabled children who get taxis to school.
Any family earning over the threshold for child benefit – £42,457 – will lose support.
Any changes agreed will be implemented from September 2014 or September 2015 and will not affect pupils already at their school.
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