MP meets minister about post-16 home to school transport
Yesterday, South Lakes MP Tim Farron, county councillor Ian Stewart and the headteacher of Settlebeck School Dr Judith Greene met with Schools Minister David Laws MP in Westminster to make the case for more funding for councils to offer transport for post-16 students continuing in education.
Recent changes mean that young people have to stay in some form of education or training until they turn 18. The county council does not have a statutory duty to provide school or college transport for post-16 students and the average cost per pupil of providing the service was over three times the £350 annual subsidised rate they were previously paying.
Tim and Ian met David Laws MP in the Department of Education in London and pressed the case that the government's changes to increase the age of participation in education must be backed up by support, especially for rural areas, in helping young people to attend school or college.
Tim proposed to the minister that students who live in areas that do not have a sixth form college and as a consequence need to travel further to attend school should be covered by something termed by Tim as a 'rural pupil premium'. Tim has also said that, ideally, no pupil should have to pay for school transport, and that remains the ultimate goal of Tim and local campaigners.
Tim said: "The government has changed the legislation to make sure that pupils stay in education or training until 18, but have not funded this and asked the councils to pick up the tab. In difficult economic times, local authorities cannot afford this cost and it feels like they are passing the cost directly on to families.
"I think the government must step up and pay for school transport - I will keep pressing for them to do more to help local families."