Oxford

Oxfordshire school bus charges criticised by head

A head teacher has criticised plans by Oxfordshire County Council to stop free transport for pupils who do not attend their nearest school.

Burford School head Kathy Haig says the plan could lead to a drop in pupil numbers.

A consultation is being held on the plans to start charging for transport, which will end on 3 July.

The council says it currently provides free school transport "above and beyond" the national level.

According to the authority, only a minority will be affected as a majority of children qualifying for free transport attend their nearest school in the catchment area.

It added that children who already benefit from free transport will not have it taken away.

But it will affect children starting school from September 2014.

'Parents can pay'

Ms Haig says the council has not looked into the impact the changes will have on admission numbers to secondary school.

Burford School takes a number of children from West Oxfordshire primary schools who live closer to other secondary schools, such as Carterton Community College.

"They hadn't mapped out the impact for me on losing children or on other schools if they could accommodate them," she said.

Councillor Melinda Tilley said the council hoped to save £500,000 once the scheme was in place.

"Parents can pay or take the children themselves, or we've offered to help them to set up their own school buses."

She added children who qualify for free school meals will still get free school transport.

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