by simongalton on 21 December, 2015
The Secondary Schools in Oadby have just finished consulting on their updated plans to change their age ranges to 11+
I submitted the following response.
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I welcome the fact that the management teams appear to have listened carefully to the feedback from the previous consultation and made a great effort to address the concerns. I’m particularly pleased to see a new emphasis on cooperative working between the High and Upper schools and their feeder primary schools and a commitment to provide enough sixth form places for Gartree and Manor students so they can transfer to Beauchamp at 16.
However, I remain very concerned about the impact these changes will have on school transport provision for parents in the Thurnby, Scraptoft, Houghton, Hungarton and Keyham areas. Although the consultation acknowledges that there were concerns over school transport, and it describes measures to address these concerns, it appears that parents from these areas will still lose out if the proposed changes go ahead.
At present parents of 10-14 year olds are entitled to free transport to Gartree High School or a nearer school of their choice. When their child reaches year 10 transport is provided to Beauchamp College. Should the changes to age ranges go ahead which includes the re-drawing of catchment areas, students will no longer benefit from the Frozen Catchment Area policy introduced by the County Council. Most parents in the villages will view these proposals as a reduction in choice because their children won’t be able access school transport without paying significant sums themselves. For the same reasons I opposed the changes to transport provision by the County Council in 2014 namely that they disproportionally affect children living in rural areas, I must put on record my concern the impact the age range / catchment area changes will have on families in the area I represent.
According to the FAQ on your website, there are plans to commission a single bus that will take students from the villages to all three schools. It should be noted that there are currently 6 or 7 school contract buses commissioned by the County Council to transport children from the above villages. It is not clear how a fare paying service would operate i.e. under direct contract to one of the schools or how much it would cost. I did receive an email from Vice Principle at Beauchamp indicating that the charge could be between £500 – 600 but this is based on an initial assessment and I appreciate that further work will be needed to define a service which will meet the needs of students. Nevertheless I know that for many families it, will not be easy to find this money and some won’t be able to afford it at all.