Removal of bus service leaves students struggling to get to school
Parents left with a headache after a privately funded bus is withdrawn due to no longer being viable
A number of parents of students at Chenderit School have been left facing transport problems after the private school bus service they had been using to get to school was withdrawn. The children all live outside the school’s catchment area and do not qualify for transport paid for by the local authority.
For a number of years the children, who live in Byfield, Woodford Halse, Wardington and Chipping Warden, have been using a private bus service on a pay-per-journey basis. Now the operator of that service, Hunters Coaches, has said it can’t supply the school buses anymore. A spokesperson for Hunters Coaches told Banbury FM the service was no longer viable.
Geoff Barker is the grandfather of one of the children now left without transport. Mr Barker said: “My grandson is one of up to 70 abandoned children with no means to get to school.
“A school bus service that ran for many years has been withdrawn at very short notice and a large number of Chenderit School pupils are now stranded with no means to get to their classes. Parents in several Northamptonshire villages now are facing huge daily challenges to get their children to and from school.”
Mr Barker feels the school itself should be doing more. He said; “A report recently issued by the school’s management has failed to identify any practical answers.”
However, the school has no legal responsibility for providing any transport for the pupils as they all chose to attend an out of catchment area school.
A statement issued to Banbury FM from Chenderit School said: “The Governors and Headteacher were made aware of the withdrawal of the Hunter’s bus service during the Easter holiday and held an extraordinary meeting to discuss the way forward. We have since worked pro-actively with the community that this affects, gathering relevant data and pursuing various options with a parent group who are equally keen to bring this unexpected withdrawal of service to a satisfactory conclusion to all.
“Students aged 11 – 16 who live in Northamptonshire, and for whom Chenderit is the allotted secondary school, and who live more than three miles from the school by the shortest walking route, are entitled to free school transport to and from school, paid for by the Local Authority. The students affected by the Hunter’s service are all from outside Chenderit’s catchment area and whilst we are delighted that we are an over-subscribed and very popular, successful school it is made clear to all parents, through our prospectus prior to parents and carers selecting us, that for ‘Students who attend Chenderit and live outside the Chenderit preference area … parents and carers are responsible for transport to and from school’.
“Decisions about transport are not within our gift and the Education and Skills Funding Agency states very clearly that ‘Travel is not an eligible cost’ for the school.”
Around 84 pupils have been affected by the loss of the bus service. Currently around 8 haven’t been able to find an alternative way of getting to school. Chenderit is providing live online access to learning for these students.
Mr Barker is hoping someone can step in and help resolve the problem. He said: “Surely there must be a way forward in an environment where we are being encouraged by the Prime Minister to get back on our buses.
“In the meantime, children who cannot get to school are being on-line taught. Parents, already under pressure to work and make ends meet, are desperate for an answer.”
The school continues to do all it can to help. Their statement concluded: “We share the frustration and upset at the position we now find ourselves in and continue to explore many avenues to help resolve these issues. We have held discussions with the Local Authority, numerous bus companies, other secondary schools and have been in contact with the Education and Skills Funding Agency. We are making progress and hope that the parent group will be able to secure a new service very soon.”
Published: by Banbury FM Newsteam