Thursday, April 18, 2024

School Transport: Children Let Down By Dropped Changes

The Children’s Commissioner for Wales says children are being let down by a decision not to change school transport laws.

It said Councils have to provide free transport if pupils live three miles (4.8km) or more from a secondary school or two miles or more from a primary school.

Considered reforms included reducing the distance children travel to school before they qualify for free transport.

But the Welsh government said major changes were not affordable.

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Welsh social worker and academic, Rocio Cifuentes said limits on distance were too high and could affect attendance at school.

Ms Cifuentes said she was considering using her legal powers to challenge the government.

She said the lack of a legal duty on councils to provide transport for students over 16, or for young people with additional learning needs, were also concerns.

She said there should also be risk assessments on routes children had to walk to get to bus stops.

The Welsh government report said councils’ school transport costs – which are about £160m a year – had increased significantly due to higher fuel prices, driver shortages and the availability of buses.

It said any changes would require significant Welsh government investment that, currently, cannot be afforded.

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