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Cross Party Call for Free Transport for Further Education

July 17, 2014 2:21 PM
Originally published by Leicestershire Liberal Democrats

School Bus

At July's meeting of the County Council there was unanimous support for a motion calling for the government to provide funding for transport for Post 16 education. Although Council's currently have a statutory duty to provide free school transport up to the age of 16, there is currently no requirement for transport to be provided beyond that.

However, the law is changing so that from September 2015, all 16-18 year olds be required to either be in education or training, and some will need transport to reach their nearest 6th form school or college.

Some councils provide transport for further education, but without funding provided from the central government have to make a charge for it. From September, Leicestershire County Council will charge students £425 for transport, a situation that Councillors decided must end.

Cllr Geoff Welsh, who proposed the motion, said, "It's extremely unfair that some families will have to pay £425 for their son or daughter to attend further education, especially as they no longer have choice in the matter.

I am delighted that all members on this Council, from all parties, have backed this call for a fairer deal for these students and their parents."

The motion called on the Government to provide funding for Post 16 transport, either by providing local authorities with full funding to provide it or to provide the funds directly to schools and colleges to distribute through a bursary scheme.

The Council will now be making representations to the central government to pass on this request.

The full text of the motion is below:

MR WELSH moved and MR OSBORNE seconded:

"a) That this Council notes:-

(i) that as a result of the Education and Skills Act 2008, from 2015, anyone up to the age of 18 will be required to participate in full time education or training;

(ii) that the provision of post 16 transport is discretionary and that local authorities can and do make a charge to cover costs;

(iii) that this will place a significant financial burden upon the families of students that require transport to attend further education;

(b) This Council therefore calls upon the Government to provide either:

(i) full funding to local authorities to enable them to extend the provision of free school transport to students aged 16 - 18 that live further than 3 miles from their nearest 6th form school of FE college;

or

(ii) Provide financial support to FE colleges and 6th form schools to enable them to provide comprehensive travel bursaries which would recognise the increasingly specialist nature of the post-16 education and skills offer.