Agenda item

School Transport Policy


That the School Transport Policy be noted




The Chief Officer (Education and Youth) introduced a report on the Council’s current School transport Policy.  He provided background information and referred to the main considerations which were detailed in the report.


The Chief Officer explained that the Authority made a higher level of transport provision than legally required which was reflected in the Council’s high expenditure on discretionary transport provision.  He drew attention to the requirements on the Authority to provide statutory transport provision for children of compulsory school age whose home was over two miles from the nearest suitable primary school and three miles from the nearest suitable secondary school.



The Chief Officer advised that it was the responsibility of parents to get their child to and from school where they did not qualify for free school transport and to apply for free transport where their child qualified.


During discussion the Chief Officer responded to the comments and queries raised by members and outlined the definition of nearest “suitable school” and the distance criteria for provision of free transport.


  In response to a query raised by Councillor Nancy Matthews concerning hazardous routes and how a safe route was defined, the Chief Officer advised that the Authority made provision for free transport for pupils where the route to school was determined to be hazardous following consultation and assessment by Highways colleagues..  He agreed to circulate information to the Committee on the criteria used when assessing routes.


Councillor Matthews also referred to the cost of transport where pupils/students did not qualify for free or concessionary provision and suggested that a standard charge be made so everyone paid the same.   She asked if students could access fees charged by public transport providers and arrange a contract fee.  The Chief Officer explained that pupils/students were eligible to a discount when accessing public transport and  referred to a national scheme for Post-16 transport provision which was being rolled out and advised that every young person would be able to access discounted fares.


Mr. David Hytch asked what steps the Authority was taking to promote  sustainable modes of travel.  The Chief Officer commented on the work being undertaken with schools and colleagues in the Highways section to develop projects and cited the “walking bus”  scheme as an example.   The Cabinet Member for Education explained that the Authority promoted healthy living  and actively encouraged schools to participate in such schemes through the healthy schools initiative.  The Chief Officer agreed to provide the Committee with information on sustainable modes of travel and the walking bus programme.


Councillor Nigel Steele-Mortimer proposed that a Task and Finish  Group be set up to review the current school transport policy and report back to the Committee.  The proposal was seconded by Councillor David Mackie.   


The Cabinet Member for Education commented that he was not aware of any specific issues raised which would require consideration by such a Group.  He reiterated the Chief Officers advice that the Authority provided a higher level of transport provision than legally required and commented that in the current financial circumstances other Authorities were reviewing and changing or reducing their school transport provision.


Councillors Ian Dunbar and Paul Shotton agreed with the views expressed by the Cabinet Member and spoke in support of the current policy on School Transport.


The Chairman asked members to vote on the proposal put forward by Councillor  Steele-Mortimer and when put to the vote the proposal was lost.




That the School Transport Policy be noted



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