Families face free school transport cuts

Emma Billingham


Free school travel provision could be lost for some families as the Royal Borough looks to reform the transport available in a bid to make the system fairer.

At a cabinet meeting tonight (Thursday), councillors will receive a report to introduce 10 measures that will see the council keep in tighter check with the national legislation statutory policy, as well as reducing costs.

There is set to be a rise of nearly 2,000 students in the Royal Borough over the next four years, increasing demand on the school transport system.

The 2015/16 school year cost the council £2,210,000 and it is predicted that this will increase by £504,000 by 2019/20.

Services set to go include provision for Holyport residents receiving free home to school transport to Cox Green School, whether or not they live more than three miles from the school – the distance dictated in the statutory eligibility.

Andy Burrell faces paying £750 per year for his son Michael to get the bus to Cox Green School when he starts next September. The Springfield Park resident already sends his daughter Kathryn to the school, but as an existing student she will continue to receive free transport.

Andy said: “They should leave this alone, if things are working fine I don’t see why they should be tampered with.

“You’ve got a bus that is there and it wasn’t costing that much.”

Other changes include Personal Transport Budgets for children who are eligible for assistance on the grounds of special educational needs. This will be based on zonal distance payments that will be made to parents to be used in any way to ensure their child attends school.

A pilot scheme for this will begin for the 2016/17 school year, alongside a pilot for Independent Travel Training. This is for pupils with special educational needs who have the ‘potential to learn to travel independently’.

Cllr Natasha Airey, cabinet member for children’s services, said: “The council is committed to making sure pupils can get to school safely and on time. To make this happen it is vital that we have a fair and consistent approach to how we allocate our home to school transport services.”

Cabinet will meet at 7.30pm in the Council Chamber at the Guildhall, Windsor.

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