Today Nigel raised a Topical Question in the House of Commons with the Secretary of State for Education about the financial disincentive that many parents face when choosing a school for their children.
The full exchange is below:
Mr Nigel Evans (Ribble Valley) (Con): We may not have Eton in the Ribble Valley, but all our schools are of an incredibly high standard. To make parental choice effective, we must ensure that parents are not stung when youngsters decide to go past their nearest school to a grammar, a faith-based school or, indeed, a non-faith-based school. They might want to go and learn Russian. Will the Secretary of State ensure that she talks to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government so that we make parental choice effective?
Nicky Morgan: My hon. Friend has raised this matter before. I know that he has campaigned on it, and that he feels passionately about it. I should be happy to talk to Ministers in the Department for Communities and Local Government. I believe that faith schools play an important role in our education system, and I support them. As my hon. Friend is aware from discussions that we have had, I want to encourage all local authorities to arrange school transport flexibly, creatively and innovatively, and to make the best possible use of any gaps in their existing school bus provision.
Speaking after leaving the Chamber, Mr. Evans said:
“I was very pleased that the Secretary of State undertook to talk to her colleagues in the Department for Communities and Local Government. I fundamentally believe that parents should not be penalised when choosing what school is best for their child. The travel cost can be incredibly large for some families, especially when you consider that the two schools in question may be incredibly close to one another.
“I have campaigned on this issue for some time and I simply do not understand the inflexibility of Local Government when it comes to this. Different schools offer different opportunities for young people and there is, often, a choice to be made. That choice should be made in the best interest of the child and not be influenced by a local transport policy that acts as a financial disincentive”.