Bath head teacher's appeal to keep transport funding for faith schools
A Bath head teacher has appealed to the council not to cut or reduce transport funding for children travelling to faith schools in the city.
Raymond Friel, who is the executive head teacher of both St Gregory’s Catholic College and St Mark’s CE School, has responded to a review by Bath and North East Somerset Council into the way money is spent on home to school transport.
The local authority spends £245,000 a year on denominational transport, which subsidises the cost of buses for parents if youngsters, aged eight and over, live more than three miles away from their chosen faith school.
At the moment the council provides financial assistance for families who live up to 8.5 miles away and the system involves more than 300 children.
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But Mr Friel said the funding was necessary to ensure children were able to take up places at their first-choice schools.
He said: “If Catholic families who live more than three miles from St Gregory’s have their subsidy removed, then many of those families on low or modest income will not be able to afford the cost of transport to St Gregory’s and will have to send their child to the nearest school.
“They will thereby effectively be deprived of their first preference school and their parental choice.”
Mr Friel, who at the same time thanked the council for supporting his school’s plans for a new sixth form, warned that when the council switched from free to subsidised transport in 2005 St Gregory’s saw its number of Catholic pupils fall by ten per cent.
People have until Friday to complete a questionnaire on home school transport as part of the consultation and can do so by going to the consultation section of www.bath nes.gov.uk.
They can also email their views to scrutiny@bathnes. gov.uk.
The council’s early years, children and youth policy development and scrutiny panel will be considering all the evidence before publishing a report in January.
This will then be passed on to the cabinet, which will make a decision by next summer and any changes will come into force from September 2014.