Call for free transport to Lincolnshire grammar schools rejected by task group

Carres Grammar School sign.
Carres Grammar School sign.
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A bid by parents to get free transport for their children to Grammar schools is set to fail

Parents in the Claypole and Bythams areas of the county say the county council’s Grammar School Transport Policy is unfair because their children do not receive free transport while many other youngsters do.

A meeting of the Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee on Friday (March 4) will recommend two options to be considered by Lincolnshire County Council Executive for a final decision in April.

The first option is to leave the Grammar School Transport Policy as it is and review it in two years.

The second option is to charge pupils in grammar school designated transport areas (DTA) for transport to their grammar school which is not the nearest suitable school. The recommendation says this should be introduced to new pupils, excluding those with siblings at the same grammar school, with some level of financial support for pupils in receipt of free school meals.

In its report, the Task and Finish Group says that expanding the DTA into other areas could have a negative affect on all ability schools in those areas, losing some of the more able pupils which they currently attract. It also says a number of parents are concerned that their children who are entitled to free transport could lose it if the policy is changed.

The report says there are concerns that the current grammar school transport policy may not be affordable in the future.

It says: “The council is under severe financial pressure and there is no extra funding available to extend the policy to areas currently outside the grammar school deisgnated transport areas. A number of other councils with grammar in their areas have now stopped providing free transport to grammar schools, except to fulfil a statutory duty, in order to deliver savings.”

In Claypole about 40 pupils travel to King’s School and KGGS in Grantham and Carre’s School in Sleaford. One parent, John Briggs, told the Journal he has a daughter who goes to KGGS and a son who attends Carre’s. He says it costs about £790 a year to send a child to KGGS and £1,260 to Sleaford.

“Mr Briggs said: “Neither of these options takes on board the concerns of the original campaign group who reside in the 25 per cent of the county that can’t access school transport on the same basis as the majority of Lincolnshire - which can be over £1000 per year to send a child to Grammar School – this is a discriminatory policy and must be changed.

“The campaign group realises the financial pressures on local authorities and has proposed cost neutral and cost saving options which would be equitable for the whole County – all of which have been disregarded by the Task & Finish Group at LCC. We campaigned for the same opportunities and access to educational options as other families receive in 75 per cent of the County.

“The Public Sector Equality Act states ‘eliminate discrimination and advance equality of opportunity’.

Parents, children and grammar schools will attend the meeting on Friday to show a unified voice against what is being proposed.”