Parents near Bourne make council look at school transport policy

Spalding Grammar School headmaster Nigel Ryan.
Spalding Grammar School headmaster Nigel Ryan.

Changes could be made to Lincolnshire’s £25 million home-to-school transport policy, possibly affecting students at grammar schools in Spalding and Bourne.

A countywide review of student bus travel provided by Lincolnshire County Council is to take place after a group of parents from villages near Bourne complained that their children weren’t entitled to free transport to Bourne Grammar School.

Coun Patricia Bradwell.

Coun Patricia Bradwell.

The parents wanted to see a full review of the council’s school transport policy where free transport is provided only if the distance from home to school is more than three miles.

But the council is to review grammar school transport only and a group made up of up to nine councillors are to carry out the work between September and March 2016.

Nigel Ryan, headmaster of Spalding Grammar School, said: “My understanding of the purpose of this review is to address the needs of parents who currently do not qualify for transport to their nearest grammar school, rather than a threat to remove support for transport to grammar schools.

“Coun Patricia Bradwell, Lincolnshire Council Council’s executive member for childrens’ services, and director Debbie Barnes recently reaffirmed their full support for selective education in the county which includes supporting transport to grammar schools.

if the county council proposed to withdraw funding for transport to grammar schools, they will face uproar from parents who, quite rightly, want the opportunity for their children to access the most appropriate education to meet their needs.”

Nigel Ryan, headmaster of Spalding Grammar School

“I think that if the county council proposed to withdraw funding for transport to grammar schools, they will face uproar from parents who, quite rightly, want the opportunity for their children to access the most appropriate education to meet their needs.”

Grammar school transport, which is provided on a discretionary basis, costs the council up to £2.7 million a year and the review is likely to look at issues such as the right for students to free transport and the criteria against which such a right is measured.

Coun Bradwell said: “We don’t have to provide free transport to grammar schools but as part of our £25 million home-to-school transport budget, this is additional support to assist parents in getting their children to grammar schools.