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Parents' anger over home-to-school transport changes

Several parents have spoken out about the service.

Published by Dan Gooding at 5:48am 3rd September 2019. 4-minute read.

Parents' anger over home-to-school transport changes

Parents across Buckinghamshire say they've been told their kids won't have school bus places, just days before the start of term.

In previous years, pupils have been provided with a managed bus service where parents have paid significant fees.

However, this year, parents received unexpected news on August Bank Holiday Monday, informing them that the council will no longer provide the children places on school buses, requiring them to find new arrangements at short notice to get their children to school.

Parents applied back in March to pay for a place on the school bus to get their 11-year-olds to their catchment school.

Now with only days to go to the start of school, parents have been left in the dark with still no notification for many, and no appropriate means of transport to get to school.

One parent, Louise, says:

"When I applied for the Beaconsfield School, I had no idea that I would be facing this situation.

"I am very concerned about the safeguarding of my child."

One dad from Winslow told us:

"My daughter has an existing place on the bus and she has done for four years.

"But my son is going to the same school in September and he is not able to get a place on the same bus.

"I pay £732 a yearo n school transport and yet there doesn't seem to be any flexibility in making sure my son has an extra space."

Another parent Samantha added:

"Having heard from other parents that the council were not offering their children a place on the bus, I rang the council immediately, only to be told my child did not have a place either."

Parents contacted the Head Teachers of several local schools and the Head Teachers' were oblivious about the councils' decision.

Bucks County Council respond

Arif Hussain, Buckinghamshire County Council’s Deputy Education Cabinet Member said he understood the daily challenges with getting children to and from distant schools.  

However, he says it was made clear to parents at the first stage of the school admissions process that transporting their children was their responsibility, and there would not be a paid-for place on school buses for every child.  

He said the Council provided first for those eligible for free home to school transport, and then released any spare seats on a paid-for basis, but these were not guaranteed.

Arif said:

“We’re happy to offer parents spare seats on school buses, but to provide paid-for seats for every child would add hugely to the cost that taxpayers shoulder.

“We’re currently subsidising paid-for seats to the tune of £350,000 a year, and we can’t continue to do this.

“We're working in partnership with commercial bus companies to provide services that will increase our transport offer to parents. Currently 21 services have been identified for September, and we're expecting more by November.”

To allow for postal delays with bus passes for eligible children, the Council will send parents temporary passes, valid until 13 September, by email.

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