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 Post subject: Home to School Transport
PostPosted: Wed Mar 07, 2012 2:10 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 07, 2012 1:46 pm
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The new policy on Home to School Transport was approved 27th February. This means that Grammar-qualified pupils no longer qualify for transport to school if they attend a grammar but have an upper school geographically closer.

There has been a lot of debate about the extra charge that will be incurred by parents sending their children to grammar school. I think something much more important has been brushed under the carpet by County and has been missed so far. That is that it is not just about worrying about what is free, it is actually having a seat at all.

If your child is not eligible for free home to school transport (e.g. low income, SEN, etc) then they are only eligible to apply to purchase a discretionary seat. County have no legal obligation to transport your child if they do not fall into the entitled category. Discretionary seats may, or may not, be available.

Here's the line from the approved Report to Cabinet:
"A seat on the bus may not be available for sale. It is proposed, as far as possible, to maintain the current bus network capacity to facilitate parents being able to purchase places not needed by those entitled to free provision. The Council has no duty to provide transport for non-entitled pupils." County will reiterate this if you phone them.

For me, I've been allocated my third choice, 11 miles down the motorway. Happy to accept the school, but Council unwilling to guarantee seat on bus.

If routes and buses are cut back (as free entitlement numbers fall off during the phasing then logic says they will be) this has huge implications.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 07, 2012 2:29 pm 
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If your DC does not get into the closest school they do have to transport them to the school allocated, I think. However, that will not include GS qualified students if the US is nearer (which it will be of course).
I worry about the fact that they don't have to provide transport too. Our GS is marginally further away than the US, but is not accessible by public transport. If no bus is provided I am not at all clear how I am supposed to both work & get them to school. Mind you, if I didn't work maybe we would qualify under low income :lol:


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 07, 2012 3:20 pm 
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Yes you are right - if they don't allocate you your nearest school they have to transport you. Problem is where your nearest school is an Upper and you have passed the 11+. My point is I think people are focussing solely on the cost, thinking they can just pay if needs be. The more worrying issue is that there is a real chance grammar kids are just not going to get a seat at all. Bucks have no legal obligation to provide one. No-one seems to have picked up on the implications of this.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 07, 2012 5:29 pm 
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Location: Buckinghamshire
DS1 has a discretionary pass on a school bus that only transports children to GS from "out in the sticks" and fortunately the last pick-up is very near our house. I bet that 100% of those children live closer to an upper school and so will have to pay in future. If enough of them decide they don't want to pay for a pass then the route will not be cost effective and everyone loses out including the commuter who, instead of contending with one 50-seater coach in the morning, finds an additional 50 cars on the road. I think BCC have focussed so much on the possible cost savings that they have overlooked the bigger picture.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 07, 2012 8:00 pm 
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Yes they have missed the bigger picture and at our cost. It will be interesting to see how BCC can possibly explain how these new plans fit in with their Sustainable Modes of Transport Strategy which covers their aim to reduce car journeys to and from school. The link is here http://www.buckscc.gov.uk/bcc/transport ... ategy.page? I also think there is a safeguarding of children issue if they are expected to travel long distances on public transport at the age of 11. I feel particularly enraged the goalposts were moved during the November consultation and so we were not in full possession of the facts in order to make an informed choice when the school applications closed in October. We are contacting Dominic Grieve. :x


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 07, 2012 8:40 pm 
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Its utterly ridiculous IMHO! How can Bucks support the whole 11+ thing and the Grammar / Upper split - then say that poorer families whose kids qualify for grammar but who cannot afford the bus fares have to go to the Upper just because it is closer! It just serves to make the rich/poor divide even wider! Upper schools are NOT comprehensive schools in the main (with some exceptions)!

I have no drum to bang - we already pay for our DD to go by bus to Grammar as we live in the small part of Burnham / Taplow which does not qualify for transport to BHS - but - to be fair - we could have sent her to BGS(also a very good school) and not paid - so I don't begrudge it (much!!) But the new system just seems really discriminatory to me - I am sure the local councillor - and papers - would be interested in some geniuine stories from people affected!!


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 07, 2012 8:42 pm 
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Hi MrsH

I am not sure if you have seen it, but this long-running thread debates the issues fairly comprehensively:

viewtopic.php?f=12&t=23055

Quote:
I feel particularly enraged the goalposts were moved during the November consultation and so we were not in full possession of the facts in order to make an informed choice when the school applications closed in October.

There was a statement in the Secondary School brochure that advised parents that the current arrangements for entitlement to home-school transport might change. I'm not pouring cold water on your argument, and I support your point of view entirely, but I think I should mention that parents were made aware well before 31st October that the situation could change.

Sally-Anne


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 07, 2012 8:44 pm 
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I know Booklady, it's shocking. But ive gone on about this on the other hread. Their reasoning is that the statutory minimum is to provide transport to your nearest school if it s more than 3 miles away, but that doesn't take account of the Bucks anomaly of two tier education. Grrrrrr


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 07, 2012 9:11 pm 
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Thank you Sally-Anne I shall visit the other thread too!

In response to the issue of what we knew beforehand I have the letter sent to parents from Mike Appleyard in front of me, dated 11th October. It says "If you are considering applying to a school that is further away than your closest secondary school, please be aware that there is a possibility that you may need to contribute to the costs of transporting your child to that school from Sept 2012." No mention of the differentiation between grammar and upper being in question and no mention of the transport becoming discretionary (as opposed to being laid on but paid for by parents).

I phoned the Home to Transport Team at BCC at that time and was told that this meant I should put my nearest catchment grammar first, which I did. I've been given my third choice grammar 11 miles away and clearly no guarantee of a seat as we now know.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 08, 2012 7:53 am 
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Joined: Tue Dec 04, 2007 9:27 am
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Location: Buckinghamshire
I have been speaking to parents of DS2's classmates who already have children at upper school in receipt of free bus passes and whose second children are due to start at the same school in September. They are under the impression that they will get free home-school transport for both children because the catchment upper school is over 3 miles away - but the closest upper school is under 3 miles. This is not 1 or 2 parents, it is 8 or 9 so the changes have not been communicated well at all.


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