Axe plans for church schools' free bus transport
FREE buses for some children going to church-based schools in Neath and Port Talbot are set to be scrapped.
It will affect pupils travelling more than two or three miles to a voluntary aided (Catholic or Church in Wales) school if there is a mainstream school near their home.
Council education chiefs say the move will only affect one in 10 pupils but will mean savings of around £317,000.
Councillors are expected to agree to go out to consultation today.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, June 30 2013
The change is one of several proposed as Neath Port Talbot and other councils in South Wales move towards a common home-school transport policy.
At the moment Neath Port Talbot provides free transport to voluntary aided schools based on the statutory distance: two miles for primary, or three for secondary.
This is regardless of whether the school is the closest is the nearest available for each particular child.
Now the council is looking to end that from September, 2014.
It will be on a transitional basis, so any pupil entitled to it before that date will still get it until they move from primary to second school.
Head of resources and commissioning Andrew Thomas said: "While the proposal is a significant change to policy, it can be demonstrated it will affect only around one in 10 of pupils attending these schools.
"Moreover there is already clear evidence of parents exercising choice to attend VA schools which are not their nearest school and thereby not qualifying for free transport.
"In other words, for a significant subset of parents, the provision of free transport is not the primary concern."
St Joseph's RC Comprehensive in Port Talbot is the county's largest voluntary aided school. Head teacher Eugene Scourfield said he was very concerned.
"This is unfair because it would have a significant disproportionate impact on one particular school – ours," he said.
"Also, the location of St Joseph's means it would not be the closest maintained school for anyone who lived more than three miles from a maintained school. We are not being asked to take a cut, but the whole hit."