Late buses for schools are cut by West Sussex County Council

Late buses serving ten West Sussex secondary schools are to be axed by the county council despite objections from Midhurst Rother College (MRC), which claimed ‘cancelling is not an option.’

The proposal was greeted with opposition from teachers, parents and governors across the county.

Staff at MRC said they were committed to offering an extensive range of extra curricular activities, and would honour that intention.

“Making alternative arrangements, or asking parents to pay, is not an option.

“The socio-economic background of the students is such that they come from families of modest economic means.

“Parental reaction has been one of deep dismay, especially those who live in more remote areas.”

Manhood Community College commented: “Additonal costs to provide a late bus service would put pressure on significantly tight budgets... Twenty per cent of students are transported to college by bus.

“Parents chose Manhood CC on the understanding that services would be provided to enable children to access the entire curriculum without discrimination due to the location of their homes.”

The saving to the authority will be about £70,000 a year, after the cut is implemented at the end of the 2011 summer term, following a decision by Cllr Peter Griffiths, cabinet member for education and schools.

A cabinet report said the buses were for children who attended after-school clubs and activities, and generally served schools with rural catchment areas where public transport services were not available at the times needed.

No other local authority had been identified where a service was provided free, as it had been in West Sussex.

Officer resource would be made available to schools to facilitate a service which individual schools required, and for which the schools themselves would arrange funding.

The service had been typically provided when buses which carried out the normal home to school transport service returned to the school to do the late bus run.