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Council pulls back from cuts to catholic school transport

Wednesday, 4th May 2011.

Parents of children at Catholic schools will probably not now face a massive increase in the cost of school transport due to a county council cut.

Thanks to Government money, Suffolk County Council has done a U-turn and is proposing not to axe transport to Catholic schools or for those studying post-16 courses.

Proposals to remove the financial support for school transport the council provides to young people attending Suffolk’s Roman Catholic schools, or studying for post 16 qualifications, have been revised following the announcement of extra funding from Government and a local consultation on the issue.

The council is to receive additional funding over the next two years, which means that cost-saving proposals set out in the council’s recent consultation on home-to-school transport have been amended.

Now, instead of removing entirely the subsidy the council provides for transport for Roman Catholic students and increasing the cost for post 16 students to £200 per term, there will be a £20 increase in the price of bus passes to £150 per term.

There will be no changes in the eligibility criteria for passes for 2011/12 - so no student already studying, or with a place offered to start in September 2011, on a school, sixth form or college course should need to give up their studies or move to another school due to the cost of transport.

A decision on the new proposals will be made by Suffolk County Council’s cabinet on May 24.

The announcement today follows a six-week consultation aimed at finding ways of reducing the cost of school transport by £700,000 a year. The council received around 350 responses to the consultation – many of which expressed their concerns about the proposed changes.

Simon White, Suffolk County Council’s director for children and young people, said: “We understood very well from the consultation that, while parents and carers understood the need to make savings, they were concerned about the impact of any potential changes.

"We’re delighted to say that, with the help of this extra funding from Government, parents, carers and students should not need to change their plans for the coming school year.”

From September 2012 onwards, young people transferring to a new Roman Catholic school will not be able to apply for a home-to-school bus pass, except those who qualify on the present low income criteria.

The council will however be able to assist those families who wish to set up their own arrangements for transport.

Haverhill Online News

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HAVERHILL, ENGLANDPosted by Eleanor Davison at 5:26PM on 5th May, 2011. (109.153.xxx.xxx)

What has been conceded is welcome.
However, please note that this has still to be ratified by SCC (24th May).
The timing of the announcement is also interesting coming as it does two days before an election.

I remain concerned on two counts in particular:
1. the abolition of the ‘third child free’ element; and
2. the longer-term picture for St Benedict’s Catholic Upper School in Bury, should, eventually, out-of-Bury children decide not to travel in to Bury to study at that school.

Graham Newman (the SCC Portfolio Holder) has confirmed that it is proposed to abolish the third child free element.

While a sum of £20 a term per child (an increase of £60 p.a. for one and £120 p.a. for two) may not sound a large increase for some, the proposed abolition of the 'third child free' element represents:
- an INCREASE of £570 p.a. for three children (£780 to £1,350) and
- an INCREASE of £1,020 p.a. for four children (£780 to £1,800).
This is a substantial sum for larger families, who arguably have fewer funds as they have more children.

This point needs highlighting to everyone!

HAVERHILL, ENGLANDPosted by Eleanor Davison at 5:30PM on 5th May, 2011. (109.153.xxx.xxx)

In addition ... as a child moves school from Middle to Upper (yes! Middle schools still exist for the time being in Bury!), they lose their right to a bus pass. In due course, half of a Catholic school population could be receiving bus passes and the other half not ... so divisive ... so wrong!

Birmingham, BritainPosted by cjhaverhill at 4:56PM on 10th May, 2011. (134.105.xxx.xxx)

I don't understand why they should get it paid in the first place.

I went to upper school in Bury after middle school in haverhill, and my parents had to pay over 350 pounds a year for my travel. If catholic parents feel a non-religious-based education is not good enough for their children, they should absolutely have to cover that themselves, if that is the case for those where the school is chosen for purely educational reasons.

Assuming the price of the bus tickets is funded by the schools themselves (which are at least part funded by taxpayers), this is not on.
(Of course if the bus tickets are not paid for by the school, then this is even worse...).


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