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Unfair School Transport Policy for Low Income Children Living in Rural Areas

Comment 15th July 2010

Dear Nick Clegg,

Please can you change the School Transport Policy to INCLUDE children from low income families living in rural areas that do not have 3 schools within 2 to 6 miles from their homes.

The policy states that the statutory right to free transport for secondary school pupils from low income families provides a choice to one of the three nearest schools to their home address. However, transport will only be provided if the school is between 2 and 6 miles of the home address, and to the nearest school preferred by reason of a parent's religion or belief, between 2 and 15 miles of the home address.

Real Choice – In a statement, School Minister Lord Adonis said "We want to remove transport as a barrier to parental choice. No young person should be prevented from going to a school of their choice simply because of travel costs. That's why it is vital to expand the right to free school travel for young people from low income families to give them real choice in applying for schools."

I look after my disabled husband and have two young secondary school aged children. I chose the second closest school for many important reasons and then was refused help with transport costs. Where is our "Real Choice"? There is no real choice if you live in a rural area!! Even religion is taken into account and are allowed up to 15 miles from their home. My second closest school is 12 miles from our home. You are lucky in most rural areas if you have one school close to your home! It is the children who live in rural areas that really need the help with transport costs as they have much further to travel thus incurring high costs.

We strongly believe we are being excluded from this policy just because we live in a rural part of Devon.

Please, please PLEASE can you amend this policy? Thank you.

Why does this matter?

By car the journey takes approx 25 mins but is too expensive especially with the high petrol costs. By public transport the journey takes one hour in the morning and two and a half hours home due to the poor public transport system. After school there is a 25 min wait for the first bus and the there is a further 40 min wait for the connecting bus. This is unfair for a child and unsafe!

If free transport costs were granted to those in reall need then the children would not suffer. They are tired, they have little time for homework and no time for any other activity

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