Parents of schoolchildren in Buckinghamshire have once again had reason to make their voices heard.
After standing up for the right to continued access to free transport to get pupils to their secondary schools, it became clear that the fight for fairness had to carry on once the bills started arriving for placements on the school bus for the 16 years and over students. Parents from all of Buckinghamshire have been receiving invoices requiring them to pay amounts of up to £1,100 per pupil, per year in order to secure a discretionary place on the buses.
Letters of complaints were sent to the county council, asking for information as to how the charges were arrived at, why people living less than a mile apart received bills that varied by hundreds of pounds and why werent we fully consulted about the proposed new charging regime in the first place?
Many parents werent aware that this new financial burden was something that would be landing on their doorstep in the not too distant future, and are now faced with that fact that the decisions on where to send their children to continue their education could well be based primarily on whether you could afford the transport fees involved, rather than on education or merit.
A petition has been put in place, and a Facebook group formed, in order to give parents somewhere to register their dissatisfaction with how the process has been implemented and discuss how we can approach the Local Authority in order we safeguard the rights of our children to access the best education available, in the fairest ways possible.
From this group, the decision was made to take the complaint to the Council via the Overview & Scrutiny Committee hearings, stating the case that Buckinghamshires approach to setting the rules and processes in place simply wasnt good enough and didnt meet with it being done fairly or with complete clarity. The Committee heard our submission on Tuesday, 23rd October at County Hall, and agreed with our argument that the whole issue of charging, banding and the inclusion of administration fees should be re-looked at and without any dispute, the Council also agreed to implement a review.
Chalfonts Community College, as well as other schools in Buckinghamshire, have listened to the concerns of parents and included details on their websites and newsletters to help inform and pass on information about the situation, for which we would also like to thank them.