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PostPosted: Tue Oct 13, 2015 12:16 pm 
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The Stratford Herald have just announced that the WCC consultation on free transport to grammar schools has resulted in the service ending.

As far as I can ascertain from speaking to WCC, this will not affect children already in the school but WILL affect children starting in September 2016. That is, new starters to the school, Y7 in 2016 will have to pay for transport to KES/AGS/Shottery from areas where, up until now, free transport was provided. For further information contact WCC school transport.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 13, 2015 1:20 pm 
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I won't hide tha it's a huge relief it's not going to apply to those already in the school (we hope), but I feel really sorry for those faced next year with a big bill.

I'd be tempted to look at alternatives if I was them. If forced, we would have really struggled with the fees the school buses charge but a local bus from a neighbouring county does a school bus pass that is half the price. Restrictive, but half the price is half the price, and obviously the school service provided now is by its nature restrictive.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 13, 2015 9:18 pm 
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We already pay from Warwick to KES so it doesn't make any difference to us. If we manage to get another DS over to KES then we have double the cost but for us it is less than after school care so not too bothered.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 14, 2015 6:10 am 
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That is great for you Bect, and as you are "not too bothered" then I am guessing affording the bus is not a problem for you.

This announcement doesn't affect my family directly, either, however, it does affect many people I know, and that does bother me.

There are several families in our village whose children were in with a real shot at gaining a place but, finding the bus fare is now making the choice a non starter - unfortunately, they are part of the squeezed middle, who are not entitled to support. It bothers me that their children who may be equally bright, or even more intelligent than yours and mine, but will not now be able to access the GS which, incidentally was set up for those families who were too poor to access a better education, because their parents pockets aren't as deep. That bothers me.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 14, 2015 7:07 am 
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The whole 'county' system is pretty unfair for us, but I wouldn't wish the charges on anyone. We have to pay for being just the 'wrong side' of the border but its academic now by the sound of it.

By Saturday after the results, who knows, we may be due for two lots of bus fares and yes it is difficult.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 14, 2015 7:31 am 
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As with many things for the 'squeezed middles', those families affected by this are those who are not in such need that they automatically qualify for help because they are 'in severe financial need'. Most of them will fall into the really can't manage it but because not FSM or serious financial straits then there will be no help. And as mentioned in my other post, the fact that other services can offer lower cost alternatives suggests that the service is really quite expensive. ITs a shame there can't be a sliding scale of subsidy.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 14, 2015 7:42 am 
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Joined: Wed Jul 31, 2013 4:03 pm
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The cost of DS's Stagecoach pass is comparable to the new LA charge, so maybe that's their benchmark?

JD


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 14, 2015 8:17 am 
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This issue has bugged me for a very long time.

It looks like your county has been more considerate than many. It is not just the squeezed middle that are affected. In places like Gloucs opt in and even fully selective Bucks where DC have to opt out free transport to anything other than your nearest school is no longer available regardless of income. In Gloucs for those entitled to free school meals they will pay for it up to 15 miles for faith reasons but not academic reasons. Baring in mind that it is a very rural county, village DC from low/no income families haven't had access to Grammars or for some even faith schools for many years. To make it worse in the area where we lived we were surrounded by failing Comprehensives.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 14, 2015 9:43 am 
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This is terrible news for us. We live in a village where our nearest comp is 5 miles away, so bus travel is inevitable for our DS regardless of the school he goes to. If he obtains a place at his preferred GS, it's going to be really tough for us. We both work - S/E and on low income, and from what I have read (and I could be wrong) there will only be allowances for those with disabilities.

If DS doesn't obtain a GS place, our next choice is a comp that is technically nearer to us (3 miles) but different LEA and County. I've been reliably informed that if he is offered a place there, we will be entitled to free travel (by taxi) as the school is actually nearer than our priority school. This will be great, but it's all if's and but's and obviously if he has done well enough we want him to have the opportunity of a GS education. DH has said that come Saturday, if the results are good and idicate he should get a place - we will do our darndest to find the money to get him there. But it is a worry!!

Good luck to all the DC with their results this weekend. I think it's safe to say we are proud of all of them regardless what the outcome will be x


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 14, 2015 10:03 am 
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I think yamin is right, a sliding scale would be good, the problem is that free buses are provided to everyone or no one, it's based on safety rather than money. As in, your child has been offered a safe mode of travel to their nearest school.
We have a ludicrous situation in our village, the closest school is a boys grammar, followed by a mixed upper that is oversubscribed and our village is not in it's catchment and a child would never get a space there, followed by the catchment upper school which doesn't qualify for a free bus pass as its not the nearest! So to get a free bus pass you either have to be a boy who is clever enough to go to grammar or a child whose parents were savvy enough to put the oversubscribed school first on the caf, be rejected, get their catchment school allocated and therefore get a free pass as its their second closest upper.

I don't think we should have a free pass, but we do, we are not on high income but perfectly able to pay for public bus fare if we were careful, or he could cycle, we certainly wouldn't pay £570 for a seat on a coach each morning. I know many others wealthier than us who get free passes too, some of whom rarely use the bus but keep a seat/pass as its free and can be used in times of desperation, such as when the nanny's 4wd Mercedes is being serviced.
Really by opting for a grammar school if it's not the closest school, having to pay £60-80 a month per child for bus fare isn't a huge sacrifice for 90% or more of the parents involved, it simply means reigning in the spending on other areas, which considering that elderley/disabled day care facilities have been financially bashed and the verges and trees are so over grown you can barely see the road signs, is a small sacrifice in the bigger picture.

My biggest bug bear is the disproportionate cost of paid for fares over distance, which is ludicrous and probably due to coach companies rather than the council. How can it cost £570 to travel four miles there and back each day, yet only £960 to travel 23 miles there and back? Local families subsidising out of catchment pupil's bus journeys?


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