Cuts to grammar school transport in Warwickshire will be a ‘backward step’

Following County Council cuts to transport for grammar schools, new students will have to pay ?750 for their school transport.''Pictured: Charlotte Marten (Headteacher). NNL-151020-192403009
Following County Council cuts to transport for grammar schools, new students will have to pay ?750 for their school transport.''Pictured: Charlotte Marten (Headteacher). NNL-151020-192403009

Parents hoping to send their children to a grammar school will now have to consider a £750 transport bill.

Warwickshire County Council’s cabinet has agreed to make cuts to free transport for grammar school pupils in a bid to save money.

And as a result, parents of new pupils attending a grammar school from September 2016 will have to pay £750 per year for transport or £375 if the family are living less than three miles away and are able to access the ‘vacant seats scheme’.

The council used to cover the cost of transport for grammar school pupils regardless of how far away from the school they lived.

But now the only pupils who will receive free transport are those who receive free school meals, and who live between three and six miles away from the school, and for whom it is one of their three nearest schools.

Parents of existing grammar school pupils are unaffected by these changes.

Charlotte Marten, headteacher at Rugby High School, said she was concerned about the changes.

“It is a source of great sadness and a backward step,” she said.

“I am very concerned about the impact that this will have on young people and their families and that it will remove the option of a grammar school education for some.

“It is a lot of money to have to pay from taxed income, especially if you have more than one child.” Charlotte said she was most concerned about pupils from less privileged backgrounds.

“We know from recent research conducted by the CEM Centre that there are able students who receive free school meals scattered throughout Warwickshire,” she said.

“There are students who are capable of passing the 11+ exam and receive free school meals, who live within our priority circle (which has a ten- mile radius) but who won’t qualify for free transport because they live more than six miles away from the school.

“It is these students who I am most concerned about. Rural poverty is isolating and largely hidden but it hems families in and reduces their opportunities, making impossible things that the rest of 
the community takes for granted.”

Charlotte said: “Grammar schools exist to serve the whole community, not just a section of it. I do understand that the county council has had to make some very tough spending decisions. This is not just a grammar schools issue.”