Protesters disappointed as ‘unfair’ grammar school transport options accepted

Protest outside Lincolnshire County Council.

Protest outside Lincolnshire County Council.

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Protesters calling for free transport for their children to county grammar schools have suffered a setback today but say they will keep fighting.

The protesters, many of them parents from the Claypole and Bythams areas of the county, say it is unfair that their children should not get free transport to grammar schools when other youngsters across the county do receive it.

This morning a meeting of the Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee at Lincolnshire County Council decided to accept two recommendations by a special task group. The first recommendation is to leave the current transport policy as it is and review it again in two years. The second is to charge pupils in grammar school designated transport areas (DTA) if they do not attend the nearest suitable school to their home address. This would apply to new pupils, excluding those with siblings at the same school.

Claire Simmonds, who lives in Claypole and has a daughter in Year 7 at KGGS in Grantham, attended today’s meeting with a number of other protesters. She said: “I am very disappointed. We are going to keep fighting and think about the next step in our campaign. We want something that is fair and equitable across the county.”

Protesters say they may consider going to the Local Government Ombudsman or take legal action if necessary.

The county council’s executive will decide which of the two recommendations to accept at its meeting on April 5.

Mrs Simmonds, who is chairperson of Claypole Parish Council, said the protest group understands there is no more money in the pot, but wanted the council to spend what it had fairly.

Councillor Mrs Jackie Brockway, chair of the Task and Finish Group which headed the review, said: “We have looked in detail at the current policy for home to school transport to grammar schools to determine whether the policy is fair, affordable and consistent. This included talking widely to parents and pupils, schools and other stakeholders as well as taking legal advice.

“While the current grammar school policy is lawful and being administered correctly, we have agreed on two options which will now go to the Executive for a decision on 5 April. No decisions will be made until then and any proposed changes will have to be widespread consultation.

“Even though the council is facing severe cuts in its budget and is having to look at savings from all service areas, we have tried to avoid looking at cuts for this discretionary service for the benefit of schoolchildren and their education.”