After stating at full council it was up to parents to transport children to school in areas without free provision, the county council’s executive member for children’s services has announced there will be a review into the current policy.
At the full meeting of Lincolnshire County Council on Friday, executive member for children’s services, Coun Patricia Bradwell, was questioned over the current policy, against which parents in Claypole, Creeton and the Bythams are campaigning.
The group are challenging the fairness of a policy which means that only those pupils living in a ‘designated transport area’ (DTA) are entitled to free school transport to grammar schools.
During the meeting, Claypole representative Coun Paul Wood asked: ”Do you find it fair and equitable that families living in Claypole and other villages are having to pay thousands to get a child to grammar school, when others in neighbouring villages actually get that service free?”
Coun Bradwell responded: “I do know that in Claypole and also in Creeton and the Bythams we have a small number of parents who have actually chosen to send their children to a grammar school, but don’t live in the designated transport area for a grammar school.
“We have I think a very fair transport system in the county. We have a third of the county that hasn’t got a grammar school, but they have very good comprehensive schools.
“Our transport budget is £25 million - we transport 25,000 children to school every day, and at the end of the day parents do have a choice and it might be hard and you might be saying ‘I’m being discriminated’, but parents do have a choice, and if you want to choose a school for your children and it’s not in an area where you get free transport, you have to take responsibility for transporting them.”
Attending the meeting with fellow campaigners Jane King, Claire Simmonds and John Briggs, mother-of-two from Little Bytham Kasia Doran said: “Mrs Bradwell gave the same answer as she has been giving for years - it is fair; it has been in place for long time; it is the parents’ choice to put the child in a school; there is no discussion about it.”
However since the meeting Coun Bradwell has released a statement on LCC’s website referring to a review of the transport scheme - although she has stopped short of promising a change.
She states: “We will look and review this again, although I can’t promise we will be able to change things in the current financial situation when we have to find significant savings over future years.”
The county council estimates that it will cost up to £2.7m extra to provide home to school transport to the nearest grammar school for children in these areas.
Coun Bradwell and MP Nick Boles are meeting with some of the campaigners today in order to discuss the issues further, while a petiton launched by the group has already gathered 600 signatures.