Student education fears over transport charges

Published date: 11 June 2014 |
Published by: Staff reporter
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CHANGED to post-16 transport funding across Wrexham could limit the number of children staying in education.

Students who travel to colleges or sixth forms outside the county could see council-provided transport axed from September next year depending on the outcome of a consultation into proposed changes.

Four options have been put forward to councillors, though lead member for children’s services and education, Cllr Michael Williams, said others that came up during the course of the consultation would also be considered.

Options put forward in the report include restricting transport to sites within Wrexham only, instituting a charge which could vary according to the distance, and devolving funding to colleges and schools.

Limiting transport to sites within Wrexham would save about £154,000 annually, with the council currently spending more than £370,000 on post-16 transport annually, and could see colleges outside the area provide transport themselves.

A council report says the current model is “unsustainable on financial grounds” and leaves it liable to transport students long distances to specialist courses.

A cross-departmental working group was established last October to recommend a policy going forward regarding discretionary education transport, ultimately recommending the withdrawal of provision for Post-16 transport.

Minera councillor David Kelly said the changes could hardest hit students who are forced to travel out of the county.

Cllr Kelly said students at agricultural college may be left with no option than to drop out of the education system as there is nowhere in the county providing similar courses for them to access.

He added: “We have got to be very careful how we undertake this consultation.

Young people in farming communities in Wrexham need to have the facility to go to agricultural college.

“That is not offered anywhere in Wrexham county borough.

“If we provide the service for one, we have to provide it for all.”

Executive board members voted to give council officers the green light to begin consultation on the proposals, with a decision on which model to adopt needed by September for implementation in 2015.

The consultation will extend to all post-16 institutions where the council currently sends students, as well as all Wrexham secondary and special schools. Students and their parents in Wrexham will be consulted, as well as neighbouring local authorities providing post-16 education in schools attended by students from Wrexham.

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