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More are now attending Crays Hill Primary School than before Dale Farm eviction
MORE traveller children are now going to Crays Hill Primary School than before the Dale Farm eviction, new figures show.
The school, attended almost entirely by travellers from the site at Oak Lane, Crays Hill, since 2004, has suffered huge truancy problems in recent years. As few as few as 11 pupils attended per day in the run-up to last October’s clearance. But new figures from Essex County Council show there were 44 children going each day in the summer term, while a whopping 110 are registered on the school roll.
The increased attendance has led to more bus journeys from the site to the school, at a cost of more than £42,000 a year to taxpayers. Before the evictions, the service cost just £30,000.
Stuart Hardwicke-Carruthers, a campaigner for the families, said: “The reason more children are going to school now is because before the eviction, they were terrified of the bailiffs coming any day and would often stay at home with their mothers. “Although many are in the lane with no permanent home, they are more settled, because there is no imminent threat of eviction.”
However, local parish councillors have questioned the numbers going to school and the cost of the bus service. David McPherson-Davis told the latest Ramsden Crays parish meeting: “In my opinion, it is just a falsification.”
Parish councillor Tina Borer added: “It is a 15-seat minibus and it is only seen going in once a day. There is obviously a discrepancy here.”
Parish chairman Andy Peake said: “With the amount of money being spent, we have a duty to question if we are getting value for money.”
In its heyday the school had more than 200 pupils, but following an influx of traveller children in 2004, which led to changes in teaching methods, all settled children were removed.
County Hall usually only provided free travel for children three miles or more from a school, but it now argues the condition of Oak Lane means no one should be expected to walk to school. A letter to the parish council from County Hall said the service operates twice a day during term time. It’s provided by Wickford -based Nikitas taxis, with one vehicle providing a shuttle service in the morning with two used in the afternoon.
A County Hall spokesman said: “There were 44 students attending on average per day in the summer term, with the majority travelling to and from school on the transport service.”