Important - School Transport Petition

(23 Posts)
EssexSchoolBus Mon 04-May-15 10:15:25

Please sign and share, especially if you are in Essex but even if not I'm sure if Essex are successful other counties will follow if they can get away with it.

LINK

They are basically saying we can only get funding for our catchment school if we are turned down for a place from all the other 'nearest' schools first.

So in theory many siblings will not be able to attend the same school if parents cannot afford to provide transport themselves. In many rural areas schools are at least a six mile commute which is not do-able when you have siblings attending other schools even if you do have a car which many don't!

This will disadvantage so many children and also potentially put children at risk.

OhYouBadBadKitten Mon 04-May-15 10:25:05

just a little word of advice, it does undermine your petition if you have a lot of non Essex post codes on it. councils look for any reason they can to dismiss a petition as unimportant.

In saying that, I have had a quick glance at the proposals and you are right, you absolutely need to fight this. It is very disjointed thinking between the education and transport department and I think undermines their whole idea of how they operate catchments. I'd ask for some advice from mn experts who specialise in admissions from the education bit of the site. I think they would find this interesting as it could have wider implications if other County Councils decide to follow suit.

There also seems to be some disparity over grammar school bus passes and other types of schools - am I accurate in that?

PtolemysNeedle Mon 04-May-15 10:57:28

I'm not sure I understand the problem, could you explain it a bit further please? What's the problem with having secondary age children at different schools?

You want to be able to choose your children's secondary schools and have the council pay for transport for you, even when you could easily have chosen other schools closer to home, is that right?

EssexSchoolBus Mon 04-May-15 11:08:01

That is a valid point re. postcodes thank you kitten. I don't think there has been transport funded to Grammar schools for some time in Essex which I do understand as it's a 'choice'.

I think the issue is how unclear the whole process has become. Our 'catchment' school is not our nearest school so the chances of us getting into any of our 'nearest' schools is very slim as they are very oversubscribed, yet they are very unclear about exactly what order we have to apply for the schools just to get funding to our 'catchment' school which is probably the school that we can get into anyway.

I know of one family that put the nearest two down but didn't realise she was mere metres closer to a third before her 'catchment' school so in missing this third school out of her application she has now been turned down for transport funding for the 'catchment' school that she has been allocated. Transport that someone with an identical application two doors away has been granted.

There has been a lot of communication with local council over this are we are getting no answers.

The sibling thing, yes I would 'like' all my children to attend the same secondary school, I have three and would find trying to be in three places for things like parents eves and school plays a bit difficult. Not to mention the school commute if they do stop bus funding all together in the future which has been discussed.

EssexSchoolBus Mon 04-May-15 11:09:53

Just to add there are no senior schools at all that the children in our village can safely walk to, the nearest school is 3.2 miles and there is a dangerous motorway interchange between us and that school and a major A road.

Cherriesandapples Mon 04-May-15 11:11:43

In our area you get help with transport only if over 3 miles away (secondary) and only to the nearest school. Everyone outside of that pays to take their children to school by bus or car. That is pretty fair in my opinion.

PtolemysNeedle Mon 04-May-15 11:17:20

It does sound like the system has problems, but I'm not sure that anyone should be given funding to get their own children to school unless they are going to a special school because of medical need.

My two children are at different secondary schools, it's never been a problem for things like parents evenings and plays as they are never on the same night. Secondary schools tend to only have parents evening for one year group at a time.

OhYouBadBadKitten Mon 04-May-15 11:18:10

this was the grammar school disparity I was talking about. I think it might muddy the issue a little but it could up as a point to look at that might help your case when arguing.

OhYouBadBadKitten Mon 04-May-15 11:25:07

latest guidance notes if youve not read thrm yet.

meditrina Mon 04-May-15 11:26:51

"but I'm not sure that anyone should be given funding to get their own children to school "

Yes they should, because it's the law that you do, if over 3 miles (there is extra provision for very low income families)

This is a catchment nonsense, rather than a transport one, though.

It's not remotely unusual for there to be a 'nearest school where you can get a place only' condition. But having a catchment school that is your 4th nearest seems more unusual, and does make it excessively confusing.

It sounds like the council needs to adopt a policy of 'catchment school or closest' because otherwise they seem to be demanding you use 4 preference just to be able to go to catchment school and have transport to it.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Mon 04-May-15 11:34:39

It's the combination of catchment and transport policy that makes it illogical. Either catchments or nearest with catchment admission criteria or just using nearest for admission and transport would make sense. The way they have changed it is nonsensical.

EssexSchoolBus Mon 04-May-15 11:42:46

At this point I have two years until my oldest starts senior school and I really don't mind which school any of my children go to but I certainly can't afford to pay nearly £900 a year per child for a bus and I can't be in two places at once (taking younger siblings to primary and older ones to secondary).

Many families in this village don't have cars at all.

Our 'catchment' school is about six miles away.

EssexSchoolBus Mon 04-May-15 11:53:07

Thanks for the links kitten

Stratter5 Mon 04-May-15 12:09:46

"but I'm not sure that anyone should be given funding to get their own children to school "

If it wasn't for the funded school mini bus service, I literally couldn't have afforded to send my child to school. She didn't qualify for free transport, as she was at a grammar school 15 miles away. She didn't get in to her closest school (another grammer, oversubscribed), and the next closest was a comp with a very average reputation. Why should she have to go to that school, when she's bright enough to get a place at a grammar? That's her life, her potential being mucked about with. I feel incredibly fortunate that her school fought for free travel for her, and she is able to use their door to door mini bus service.

ALL children should be able to get to and from school, irregardless of their parents financial state. I'd sign OP, but I'm out of area.

PtolemysNeedle Mon 04-May-15 12:15:52

I wish my ds got free transport to his grammar school, but he doesn't. It's my choice for him to go there though, so I don't expect other people to pay for it for us. It's good that you are able to feel how fortunate you are Stratter.

WorraLiberty Mon 04-May-15 12:16:36

Kids travel free on the buses here (London borough)

I wish they could roll this out across the whole country.

Viviennemary Mon 04-May-15 12:23:59

Don't get the problem myself. Why should the public purse pay for transport if there is a nearer school place which you have turned down. If you feel strongly you should do some petioning amongst local people.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Mon 04-May-15 12:25:09

I can't see that happening Worra. The bus companies are already underfunded for the free passes for pensioners. They're not going to want another group of people not paying. There's unlikely to be enough paying adults to cover both sets without cutting even more bus services than they already have or raising prices hideously.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Mon 04-May-15 12:39:16

It's not that simple, vivienne. If you live in an area with catchments you won't have priority for admission to those schools even if they are nearer. In fact people living further away might have greater priority than you. If the nearer school have only ever taken within catchment or from a very small distance outside it you may well be filling your form up with schools you don't have a chance of getting into.

Stratter5 Mon 04-May-15 12:46:46

Worra is right though, it would be fantastic if all children could travel free on buses, right up to when they leave full time education. In rural areas, that could really open up opportunities.

I know we are really fortunate, DD's school may not be the best grammar in the area, but when it comes to looking after their pupils, imo they are streets ahead of the others, and that is just as important.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Mon 04-May-15 13:05:28

Oh I agree it would be fantastic. But until we can get round some of the differences between rural bus transport and london public transport I don't think it's going to happen.

WorraLiberty Mon 04-May-15 13:24:03

True. I spent a week in a rural area last year as a non driver.

The buses were every bloody hour and they cost a fortune.

I'll genuinely never moan again when I have to wait more than 20 minutes for a bus here blush

Plus if a bus was cancelled or really late, there was no way of knowing because they didn't have the electronic signs, telling you when the next one will be along.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Mon 04-May-15 13:53:22

Once an hour is good going. There are villages here that are served by a bus once a week. grin

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