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U-turn on school transport

By Sue Austin | Mid Wales | Education | Published:

Powys County Council is planning a U-turn on charging 16-19-year-olds to travel to college or sixth form.

The cash-strapped authority had proposed to bring in charges for transport for post-16 learners.

But after 86 per cent of people involved in consultation protested, the council looks like it will continue to offer the free transport - for the time being.

Cabinet members will meet on Tuesday to discuss proposals for home to school transport in the county. There is no requirement for the local authority to provide school or college transport free of charge to any learner who is over compulsory school age.

During the summer consultation the Governor’s Consultative Committee said that charging post-16 learners for transport could result in losing learners to out of county colleges which could result in Powys sixth forms not being viable.

The committee also said low income families would be penalised.

Councillor Myfanwy Alexander, portfolio holder for learning and the Welsh language, says in a report to cabinet: "The introduction of charging for transport for 16 – 19 year olds is clearly a contentious issue.

"It is recommended that further detailed work is carried out into post-16 transport provision as part of the authority’s improvement work around the post-16 sector, with the aim providing all learners with opportunities to improve their skills and knowledge, and to have access to a broad curriculum.

"As the Council is currently operating in a very critical and challenging financial climate, there may be a financial benefit to introducing charges for transport for 16 – 19 year olds to school or college. It is a non-statutory service."

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Councillors will be told that further cost analysis and impact assessments will be made and another report will be brought back to Cabinet in the spring term, 2019.

"If this work results in new recommendations that impact upon the Home-to-School/College Transport Policy, further consultation will be carried out prior to any final decisions being made."

The councillors will be asked to pass the policy that home to school transport is made available for full-time learners who live two miles or more from a primary school or three miles or more from the catchment or nearest suitable secondary school or further education college site.

Sue Austin

By Sue Austin
Chief Reporter

Chief reporter of the Oswestry/Mid Wales office. Keen to hear your news.

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