Concern at Gwynedd student transport plan

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Plans to charge students aged over 16 in north Wales to travel to school or college have raised concerns.

From September all students who live further than three miles (4.8km) from secondary schools or colleges in Gwynedd will be affected.

They will pay either £60 or £100 a term, depending where they study, and the move will save Gwynedd's education department £330,000 over three years.

Objectors say it will cause hardship especially in more rural areas.

Those who chose the school or college closest to home will have to pay £60 per term, but those choosing to follow a course outside their catchment area will pay £100.

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It is a dreadful blow to the parents and students of the Dyfi Valley who are doing their utmost to gain qualifications and contribute further to society”

End Quote Gareth Jones Machynlleth town councillor

Machynlleth town councillor Gareth Jones said the move will affect people living in the Dyfi Valley who travel to college in Dolgellau.

"It is a dreadful blow to the parents and students of the Dyfi Valley who are doing their utmost to gain qualifications and contribute further to society," he said.

Students on the Lleyn peninsula could also be affected according to John Elfyn Gruffydd, a parent and governor at Ysgol Botwnnog secondary school.

It has no sixth form, so pupils have to travel to study for A levels.

"It concerns me that some students will also be affected by the lowering of the threshold for the EMAs (Education Maintenance Allowance)," he said.

"Currently they are eligible for £30 a week if the family earns less than £30,000 a year, but that will come down to just over £21,000.

No statutory obligation

"This will affect families, especially if there is more than one child. It will cause hardship, although it's difficult to assess what the result of this will be," he added.

Gwynedd council decided to adopt the new post-16 transport policy last Tuesday.

Dewi Jones, the council's head of education, said: "This forms part of the savings strategy adopted by the council in December 2009, to deliver £16m of efficiency savings between 2010/11 and 2012/13."

He added that although the policy would save the education department £330,000 over the next three years, school and college transport would still be subsidised by around 75%.

"Those in full-time education can receive £30 per week in education maintenance allowance, money which is intended to help with course related costs such as travel, books and equipment," he said.

While the council was committed to protecting the education of young people there would be no statutory obligation to provide transport for those in post-16 education, he added.

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