Headteachers claim move to axe free school bus services will price some children out of best education (From Echo)
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Headteachers claim move to axe free school bus services will price some children out of best education
5:30pm Wednesday 18th September 2013 in Local News
HEADTEACHERS across south Essex have hit out at plans to scrap free school transport, claiming it will stop children from low-income families attending the best schools.
The comments came after Essex County Council announced plans to stop giving free bus passes to children from low-income families attending grammar schools in Southend and Chelmsford, as reported on this site earlier.
Angry heads have urged the council to think again over parts of the proposals, which will involve huge cuts being made to school transport in a bid to cut the council’s £25million budget.
Robin Bevan, headteacher of Southend High School for Boys, said: “We understand the considerable budget pressures faced by Essex County Council.
“Families facing tough financial times need all possible support to provide the best education for their children.
“Travel grants have been a valuable tool to enhance life chances.
“The end of this financial support may well close the door of our schools to those facing hardship.”
Mr Spenceley said: “As a college, we are concerned about the reduction in financial support for low-income families, particularly as this could lead to a reduction in post-16 choice for school leavers.
“Seevic College offers a broader selection of qualifications than school sixth-forms, including the widest A-level offer in south east Essex.
“Each year, the college spends a significant amount of its budget, a six-figure sum in 2013/14, on its own college bus service to ensure our students arrive here safely and on time each day.”
Another headteacher raised concerns about school bus services being taken away completely.
The buses are being scrapped altogether at Bromfords School and Grange Primary School, both in Wickford, because County Hall says children should be able to walk there safely.
Lyn Corderoy, headteacher of Grange Primary School, says children on the edge of the school’s catchment area now face a onemile walk to school, which crosses the busy A132 London Road.
She said: “The outer edge of our catchment area would leave children with a walk of over a mile which is a very long way for four and five-year-olds.
“We currently share transport with the Bromfords School, which is also not particularly suitable for some of the smaller children."
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