Nigel has contacted the Rt Hon David Laws MP, the Minister of State for Schools at the Department for Education to outline his concerns over Lancashire County Council’s funding policy for School Transport in the Ribble Valley. Residents whose nearest school is St Augustine’s in Billington have been told that transport will only be funded if their children attend there, despite the fact that it is a Catholic school with strict entrance requirements.
Speaking this morning Mr Evans said “I have today written to David Laws to outline my concerns over the way in which Lancashire County Council are implementing the policy of school transport funding.
St Augustine’s is a fantastic school and the leading Catholic high school in East Lancashire, but it is oversubscribed and parents who are only being offered funding for their children to attend there are going to be paying their Council Tax twice by having to pay to send their children to a different school. This is removing one of the most vital aspects in the improvement of our education system, that of parental choice.
The new funding structure set up by Lancashire County Council will mean that the Local Authority will fund transport to the nearest school, which could be a faith school or one within a different Local Education Authority. There are only a limited number of LEA schools in the Ribble Valley and the structure strikes me as an attempt to save money at the expense of those in rural areas.
It is a long-held accepted principle that, in the main, children attend a school within their borough, but the new school transport funding structure being set by Lancashire County Council will penalise those living in the Ribble Valley local authority area, and particularly those in its southern wards. It should not be the case that parents are having any element of choice removed, unless they stump up extra hundreds of pounds a year to cover transport costs.”