Sharnbrook School Transport - Post 1629.11.2016
On Monday, 21st November Sharnbrook Upper School received an extremely concerning email and letter from Bedford Borough Council’s Transport Officer, Rebecca Durham, telling us of their proposals to change post-16 school transport policy across the Borough. This has been prompted by the Council’s stated need to make “significant savings over the next three years”, owing to cuts in central government funding. The email signals the start of a public consultation (running from 21st November to 13th January) and invites all interested parties to let them know whether we agree or disagree with their proposals.
The Current Post-16 Travel Policy
At the moment, Bedford Borough provides subsidised bus travel for post-16 students who live within the school’s catchment area as long as they live further than 3 miles but not more than 20 miles from the school.
At the moment, the council are not considering simply carrying on with subsidised transport as it runs now. Instead, they have two proposals:
- bus travel for post-16 students will continue as it does now, but without any subsidy (so the full costs are charged to sixth form students);
- bus travel will cease entirely for sixth form students, so that travel to Sharnbrook’s Sixth Form could only be by private means (car or public buses, where available).
The School’s Position, and What You Can Do
The decision to remove subsidies and even to remove transport altogether would seriously affect the life-chances of our young people and be a significant blow to our school and our community. As such, we are absolutely opposed to it. We want to continue offering high quality sixth form education to all of our young people.
If you are as concerned about these proposals as we are, we would urge you to make your voice heard in one (or some) of the following ways:
Attend one of the two public consultations: Borough Hall on Tuesday 29th November at 6pm and also on Monday 19th December at 2pm.
You can also have your say online at: www.bedford.gov.uk/stconsultation
Or write an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or send a letter to: Consulting Bedford, Borough Hall, Cauldwell Street, Bedford. MK42 9AP
Or telephone the council on: 01234 276713
We are already talking to Bedford Borough’s transport team to make our concerns very clear!
On the next page, there is a summary of some of the key reasons why we are so concerned about these incredibly damaging proposed changes to current post-16 transport policy. You might find it useful when making your voice heard.
Peter Rattu – Head of School, Sharnbrook
Reasons NOT to remove subsidised post-16 Bedford Borough Transport:
- Sharnbrook is a rural school serving a rural catchment. Public transport infrastructure is so limited, using it to travel to SUS or anywhere else is a real problem! Removing post-16 Bedford Borough transport would create an unfair, prejudicial system that discriminates against our rurally-based young people.
- Students currently living in villages such as Riseley, for whom we are the closest sixth form, would no longer get bus transport to their closest sixth form. What alternatives is Bedford Borough considering for students cut off from their local sixth form?
- “Raising the Participation Age” (RPA) encourages students to stay on in education (or training and apprenticeships) until 18. Removing transport will make that more difficult and costly, and force students into a route that they may not want or that doesn’t suit their aspirations. Why is Bedford Borough consulting on a policy that places barriers to students staying in school to 18?
- This scheme unfairly penalises lower income families for whom more expensive alternatives to Bedford Borough transport would be financially impossible. Why is the council pursuing policies that unfairly discriminate against lower income families?
- Families will have to cope with two different institutions as siblings are split when one of them reaches sixth form age, perhaps with varying term dates, policies and different geographical locations.
- It has been clear throughout the move to two tier education in Bedford Borough that sixth form provision at SUS is also the post-16 education provision for Lincroft students. This is a fundamental element of the new two tier system. Why is the council undermining the two tier process?
- Research shows that each time students move from one school to another, their learning and progress is reduced (hence the two-tier transition process currently occurring in Bedford Borough). What about students who receive Bedford Borough transport in lower school years, but then do not qualify for transport to the sixth form? Will they be forced to opt for a different sixth form? Won’t this diminish the council’s post-16 educational performance?
- 151 Sharnbrook sixth form students currently take Bedford Borough buses; without them, the school may need to reduce further the range of subjects offered in the sixth form as courses become economically unviable. This reduces the life chances of young people in this borough.
- If 151 students opt still to come to SUS, that will lead to a significant increase in car journeys to school, putting pressure on parents and increasing the risk to student welfare while creating significant congestion for the public in the mornings and afternoons.
- Borough transport responds to the early closure programmes of schools. Public transport does not. We will be left with large numbers of sixth form students left in school requiring supervision – an additional burden on an already overstretched teaching workforce.
- Will road safety grounds be considered (as per the current policy – Entitlement on Road Safety Grounds) for sixth form students where, in order to catch public transport, busy or dangerous roads need to be crossed?
- Will the current Privilege Scheme still function to allow for these students to access spare capacity on Bedford Borough buses?
- This entirely contradicts the council’s current “Sustainable Transport Strategy” as more individuals will be taking more car journeys.
Please click here to view the letter from Bedford Borough Council