Parents invited to have say on faith school transport
FROME families are being invited to have their say on proposed controversial changes to Somerset County Council's policy for subsidising transport to faith schools.
According to the council, school transport for children whose parents choose to send them to a faith school is on average just under £680 per year. At the moment, the council subsidises the cost by an average of £440 and parents contribute the rest.
In comparison, parents paying for bus places to non-faith schools pay £602.25 a year. Under the proposals, the council would still pay a subsidy for faith-school transport, but the charges would be brought in line with that paid by non-faith parents.
This is likely to affect about 200 families across Somerset including Frome parents who sent their children to St Louis Primary School and then to St Augustine's in Trowbridge for secondary education.
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Parents affected by the change have been contacted directly and invited to comment on the proposals. Members of the wider public are also being asked to give their views. The closing date for the consultation is November 4.
Councillor Frances Nicholson, cabinet member for children and families, said: "The current proposals have been put together in response to the feedback we received to previous proposals on the issue of faith transport subsidies. It's important that we hear the views of the public and that we take that into account when we are considering changes like this."
The policy was consulted on earlier this year as part of wider proposed changes to Home to School transport. Original proposals were for the County to withdraw from discretionary faith transport altogether.
The new proposals have been put forward following feedback which indicated that withdrawing from faith transport could have a significant impact on some schools and communities.
A decision on whether or not the proposals will be taken forward will be made in December. If taken forward, the proposals would only affect children starting or transferring to a faith school from September 2014.
Anyone wanting to take part in this consultation can complete an online survey by visiting the consultation page of the council's website www.somersetconsults.org.uk/ consult.ti.
Anyone requiring a hard copy of the survey or with any questions about taking part in the consultation can call 01823 355850 or email hreid@som erset.gov.uk.