Consultation on Proposed Changes to the Home to School Transport Policy
Consultation on Proposed Changes to Lancashire County Council's Home to School Transport Policy for Pupils attending Mainstream Schools-Removal of Denominational Contribution from September 2018
1. What is Lancashire County Council consulting on?
The County Council is consulting on a proposal to cease the provision of discretionary denominational transport assistance for pupils who do not attend their nearest school but attend their nearest faith school on faith grounds. This proposal will be implemented from 1st September 2018 to coincide with the new academic year.
2. Brief background to the proposal?
The Council is only required by law to meet the cost of home to school transport for secondary aged pupils, from non- low income families, where they attend their nearest school and this is over three miles from the home address. Prior to September 2011, the Council exercised discretion and granted free transport to pupils who attended faith schools, met the distance criterion and had been admitted to the school on denominational grounds. As a result of reductions in Council budgets from September 2011, parents of pupils in these circumstances were required to make a contributory charge. From September 2017, this will be £575 per year per child before an award of travel will be made.
A consultation on the removal of denominational transport took place in the Spring Term 2016. Responses indicated that some parents were anxious that the removal of discretionary denominational transport assistance would be applied to all year groups and that they had not been aware of a possible policy change at the time they made their secondary school application.
The County Council accepts that the introduction of any changes should be phased-in so that children who start school under one set of transport arrangements continue to benefit from them until they conclude their education at that school or choose to move to another school. The Council is therefore now consulting on the removal of denominational transport assistance on a phased basis from September 2018. If a policy change is agreed it will only apply to new pupils in the Reception Year and Year 7.
3. Why is Lancashire consulting?
Lancashire currently spends over £5 million on providing mainstream home to school transport. Of this amount, over £400,000 is spent, despite receiving parental contributions, on providing transport assistance to those pupils who attend faith schools, when there are nearer non faith schools available. The Council has no statutory duty to incur these costs.
The Council is faced with making unprecedented savings in the region of £500m. It must therefore look at all its expenditure, especially where it is incurring costs on services which it does not have a statutory duty to provide.
3. What free transport must be provided by law (statutory entitlement)?
The law says free home to school transport must be provided in the following cases (known as statutory entitlement):
a) For children aged between 4 and 16 years attending their nearest school and where the suitable walking route from home to school is over 2 miles for children under eight years old and over 3 miles for children aged eight years and above (known as 'Statutory Walking Distances').
b) For children with a Special Educational Need, a disability or a mobility difficulty, either long term or temporary, which means they cannot be expected to walk , accompanied as necessary, to the nearest appropriate school, even if this is within the statutory walking distance.
c) For children between 8 and 11 from low income families* where the nearest school is over 2 miles from their home.
d) For children between the ages of 11 and 16 from low income families* where any one of the three nearest schools is between 2 and 6 miles from the home:
e) For children between the ages of 11 and 16 from low income families* where the nearest school preferred on the parental religion or belief is between 2 and 15 miles from home.
Lancashire will of course continue offering this support.
4. The Consultation Process
Consultation opens on 12 June 2017 and we would like to hear your views on these proposals by 5pm on 21 July2017. Once these have been received, all the responses will be considered.
The results of the consultation will be published on the Council's website/school portal in August 2017.
5. Responding to the consultation
You can respond to the consultation by completing the online consultation form available on the Council's website at http://www3.lancashire.gov.uk/corporate/consultation/responses/response.asp?ID=330
Or by writing to us at this address:
Mainstream Denominational Transport Consultation
Pupil Access Team
Preston PR1 8RJ
Just a reminder closing date for responses is 5pm on 21 July 2017.
Need help? To request this document in an alternative format, please contact us at the above address.
- Low income families are those pupils whose parents or in receipt of the maximum amount of working tax credit or the pupils are eligible for free school meals,