Fears for schools as county council presses ahead with free bus axe

Will Sumner, front, and other protesters outside County Hall

Maxine Bridge and her daughter Chloe, who faces having to move from Burford School to Carterton Community College because of the changes

First published in News
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Witney Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , Education Reporter, also covering West Oxford. Call me on (01865) 425437

RURAL schools claim they will lose hundreds of pupils and millions of pounds after councillors voted to end free buses for many children.

Yesterday, after a long day of discussions, Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet unanimously voted to scrap free transport for schoolchildren if their parents choose not to send them to their nearest school.

The cabinet said it would save £2m a year.

Headteachers and governors from across the county addressed cabinet members in a two-hour discussion in which they raised serious concerns over the plans.

The schools which believe they will be affected the most are Burford School and Bloxham’s Warriner School.

Both believe they will lose hundreds of pupils, and money, under the plans over the coming years.

Burford School headteacher Kathy Haig said: “We will lose up to 500 students over five years in the worst-case scenario and that would be a drop of £2.1m from the school budget. It would affect our priorities over the next five years.

“I have had an unrelenting focus on quality teaching and learning in my school since I started six years ago and this decision will distract me from continuing with this work.”

Brize Norton resident Chloe Bridge, 12, told the Oxford Mail she would have to leave Burford School by the time she starts her GCSEs if the proposals were passed and would have to walk in the dark in the winter to get to Carterton Community College.

“I would have to leave my friends at Burford and walk to Carterton Community College. That would be dangerous.”

These fears were echoed by Warriner School headteacher Annabel Kay, whose catchment is made up of many village primary schools.

Councillor George Reynolds said: “If the students don’t get in the car and go to Warriner because they can’t get free transport, there could be 200 pupils going to different schools. The school could lose two or three villages from school rolls, which is really devastating.”

Burford’s chairman of finance, Richard Martin, said: “Rural schools have developed strategically crucial links based on the present bus system and this will damage that.”

More than 2,500 people responded to the council’s consultation, with a clear majority against the plans.

  • The proposals:
  • Free transport is provided to the nearest school in Oxfordshire only
  • In the case of “split” villages (where pupils are closer to different schools), if 20 per cent of pupils will have to attend a different school under the plan, free transport will be provided to the catchment school for all addresses
  • The change will be introduced in phases from September 2015
  • Fares for post-16 travel will be increased by 10 per cent in September, and then by five per cent for the following five years from September 2015
  • A new job will be created, at a cost of £34,923 a year, for at least two years to administer changes and deal with the expected increase in appeals

Mayor of Burford John White urged the council to conduct an independent review.

But Carterton Community College said it was pleased with the proposals, saying many pupils are “bussed past” the school to go to another secondary and it has historically lost out.

Headteacher Niall McWilliams said: “I really appreciate the difficult decision and that it’s causing lots of debate.

“We should put some of this negative energy into positively improving every single school in Oxfordshire. I truly believe education is the biggest measure of social justice.”

Councillor Lynda Atkins raised concerns about the impact of the proposals on RAF Benson, but was told by council officers the base would be looked at separately.

The changes would mean more children receiving free transport to the already oversubscribed Wallingford School, rather than to Icknield College, in Watlington, which many currently attend.

Earlier in the day, the cross-party education scrutiny committee met and voted in favour of the plans.

Sue Moon, the co-ordinator of campaign group Oxon Schools Bus Action Group, said it was disappointed by the decision but was taking legal advice about a potential judicial review.

Leader of the council Ian Hudspeth warned OSBAG about taking such action.

He said: “Any judicial review will cost the taxpayer money and the group needs to remember a judicial review is about the consultation process and not the outcome.”

Comments (26)

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10:46am Wed 5 Feb 14

melinda says...

Chloe Bridge, 12 will not have to leave Burford School, the new policy does not begin until 2015 and anyone getting free transport from September 2014 will receive it until they finish school. The new arrangements are to be phased in over the next five years.
Chloe Bridge, 12 will not have to leave Burford School, the new policy does not begin until 2015 and anyone getting free transport from September 2014 will receive it until they finish school. The new arrangements are to be phased in over the next five years. melinda
  • Score: 9

12:31pm Wed 5 Feb 14

alu355 says...

Some schools are losers, others are winners. Ultimately they get the same amount of funding. This is being phased in over some time so there will be time to adjust. I suspect most parents will want to leave their children where they are/would be going to and will drive them there or pay the £600 which is what most parents do already.
Some schools are losers, others are winners. Ultimately they get the same amount of funding. This is being phased in over some time so there will be time to adjust. I suspect most parents will want to leave their children where they are/would be going to and will drive them there or pay the £600 which is what most parents do already. alu355
  • Score: -34

12:41pm Wed 5 Feb 14

IS says...

I wonder whether all this has been fully costed? If some pupils are going to be moved to over-subscribed schools then won't the County Council then have to increase accommodation which has cost implications? Parents and children who live in the city of Oxford may be the only ones in the county left with a choice of schools - I thought the Conservative Party supported choice in education? If there are more cars on the road taking children to school won't that increase congestion which also has a cost?
I wonder whether all this has been fully costed? If some pupils are going to be moved to over-subscribed schools then won't the County Council then have to increase accommodation which has cost implications? Parents and children who live in the city of Oxford may be the only ones in the county left with a choice of schools - I thought the Conservative Party supported choice in education? If there are more cars on the road taking children to school won't that increase congestion which also has a cost? IS
  • Score: 3

1:20pm Wed 5 Feb 14

Simon33 says...

Could someone explain the three guys in the photo? One is named, but not in this article.
Could someone explain the three guys in the photo? One is named, but not in this article. Simon33
  • Score: -5

4:39pm Wed 5 Feb 14

icba1957 says...

If more kids are going to schools nearer where they live, surely more of them will be able to walk, thus relieving congestion?
If more kids are going to schools nearer where they live, surely more of them will be able to walk, thus relieving congestion? icba1957
  • Score: 4

6:36pm Wed 5 Feb 14

Segdirb22 says...

melinda wrote:
Chloe Bridge, 12 will not have to leave Burford School, the new policy does not begin until 2015 and anyone getting free transport from September 2014 will receive it until they finish school. The new arrangements are to be phased in over the next five years.
We know that now. The statement was taken before the meeting and under one of the proposals she would have had to do so. Chloe Bridges is now very relieved.
[quote][p][bold]melinda[/bold] wrote: Chloe Bridge, 12 will not have to leave Burford School, the new policy does not begin until 2015 and anyone getting free transport from September 2014 will receive it until they finish school. The new arrangements are to be phased in over the next five years.[/p][/quote]We know that now. The statement was taken before the meeting and under one of the proposals she would have had to do so. Chloe Bridges is now very relieved. Segdirb22
  • Score: 2

6:40pm Wed 5 Feb 14

Segdirb22 says...

IS wrote:
I wonder whether all this has been fully costed? If some pupils are going to be moved to over-subscribed schools then won't the County Council then have to increase accommodation which has cost implications? Parents and children who live in the city of Oxford may be the only ones in the county left with a choice of schools - I thought the Conservative Party supported choice in education? If there are more cars on the road taking children to school won't that increase congestion which also has a cost?
Children in Brize Norton are hoping that the Carterton Community College 6th form consultation documents show accurate figures. The published, projected admission numbers apparently show that there won't be space for them so OCC will have to bus them to Burford as it is currently doing. Fingers crossed all round.

A current year 5 parent on low income but not low enough to receive free school meals has effectively had their choice removed. I am just glad that my daughter is 12 and will now be OK.
[quote][p][bold]IS[/bold] wrote: I wonder whether all this has been fully costed? If some pupils are going to be moved to over-subscribed schools then won't the County Council then have to increase accommodation which has cost implications? Parents and children who live in the city of Oxford may be the only ones in the county left with a choice of schools - I thought the Conservative Party supported choice in education? If there are more cars on the road taking children to school won't that increase congestion which also has a cost?[/p][/quote]Children in Brize Norton are hoping that the Carterton Community College 6th form consultation documents show accurate figures. The published, projected admission numbers apparently show that there won't be space for them so OCC will have to bus them to Burford as it is currently doing. Fingers crossed all round. A current year 5 parent on low income but not low enough to receive free school meals has effectively had their choice removed. I am just glad that my daughter is 12 and will now be OK. Segdirb22
  • Score: 1

6:44pm Wed 5 Feb 14

Segdirb22 says...

icba1957 wrote:
If more kids are going to schools nearer where they live, surely more of them will be able to walk, thus relieving congestion?
No. Most village children are still too far away. Also, the nearest school is worked out on a crazy system so the nearest school may well be triple the travel time. For instance, I can't remember the exact location but I believe it to be Thornhill side of Oxford, there are children that are currently bussed away from the City to attend school. Under the new system they will actually be coming into Oxford and sitting on the ring road at rush hour. Some closer schools have routes that won't actually allow a bus down them so the 'actual' new journey is considerably longer than the old. Sadly OCC are not able to send officers out to time all the routes and implement a scheme that worked around journey times rather than 'as the crow flies' mileage.
[quote][p][bold]icba1957[/bold] wrote: If more kids are going to schools nearer where they live, surely more of them will be able to walk, thus relieving congestion?[/p][/quote]No. Most village children are still too far away. Also, the nearest school is worked out on a crazy system so the nearest school may well be triple the travel time. For instance, I can't remember the exact location but I believe it to be Thornhill side of Oxford, there are children that are currently bussed away from the City to attend school. Under the new system they will actually be coming into Oxford and sitting on the ring road at rush hour. Some closer schools have routes that won't actually allow a bus down them so the 'actual' new journey is considerably longer than the old. Sadly OCC are not able to send officers out to time all the routes and implement a scheme that worked around journey times rather than 'as the crow flies' mileage. Segdirb22
  • Score: 1

6:48pm Wed 5 Feb 14

Segdirb22 says...

IS wrote:
I wonder whether all this has been fully costed? If some pupils are going to be moved to over-subscribed schools then won't the County Council then have to increase accommodation which has cost implications? Parents and children who live in the city of Oxford may be the only ones in the county left with a choice of schools - I thought the Conservative Party supported choice in education? If there are more cars on the road taking children to school won't that increase congestion which also has a cost?
I am sure I saw something on the news just last week which was halting the funding of extra space being built at an over subscribed primary school in Oxford.
[quote][p][bold]IS[/bold] wrote: I wonder whether all this has been fully costed? If some pupils are going to be moved to over-subscribed schools then won't the County Council then have to increase accommodation which has cost implications? Parents and children who live in the city of Oxford may be the only ones in the county left with a choice of schools - I thought the Conservative Party supported choice in education? If there are more cars on the road taking children to school won't that increase congestion which also has a cost?[/p][/quote]I am sure I saw something on the news just last week which was halting the funding of extra space being built at an over subscribed primary school in Oxford. Segdirb22
  • Score: 0

6:51pm Wed 5 Feb 14

Thinkingoutloud says...

Segdirb22 wrote:
IS wrote:
I wonder whether all this has been fully costed? If some pupils are going to be moved to over-subscribed schools then won't the County Council then have to increase accommodation which has cost implications? Parents and children who live in the city of Oxford may be the only ones in the county left with a choice of schools - I thought the Conservative Party supported choice in education? If there are more cars on the road taking children to school won't that increase congestion which also has a cost?
Children in Brize Norton are hoping that the Carterton Community College 6th form consultation documents show accurate figures. The published, projected admission numbers apparently show that there won't be space for them so OCC will have to bus them to Burford as it is currently doing. Fingers crossed all round.

A current year 5 parent on low income but not low enough to receive free school meals has effectively had their choice removed. I am just glad that my daughter is 12 and will now be OK.
"A current year 5 parent on low income but not low enough to receive free school meals has effectively had their choice removed. I am just glad that my daughter is 12 and will now be OK."

No - you still have a choice but if you do not want your local school the taxpayers of oxfordshire will not pay the cost of transporting your child to another school. Seems fair to me. If every parent chose a school that was not their local school and expected the council to pay to transport their children to it I expect the council would go bust.
[quote][p][bold]Segdirb22[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]IS[/bold] wrote: I wonder whether all this has been fully costed? If some pupils are going to be moved to over-subscribed schools then won't the County Council then have to increase accommodation which has cost implications? Parents and children who live in the city of Oxford may be the only ones in the county left with a choice of schools - I thought the Conservative Party supported choice in education? If there are more cars on the road taking children to school won't that increase congestion which also has a cost?[/p][/quote]Children in Brize Norton are hoping that the Carterton Community College 6th form consultation documents show accurate figures. The published, projected admission numbers apparently show that there won't be space for them so OCC will have to bus them to Burford as it is currently doing. Fingers crossed all round. A current year 5 parent on low income but not low enough to receive free school meals has effectively had their choice removed. I am just glad that my daughter is 12 and will now be OK.[/p][/quote]"A current year 5 parent on low income but not low enough to receive free school meals has effectively had their choice removed. I am just glad that my daughter is 12 and will now be OK." No - you still have a choice but if you do not want your local school the taxpayers of oxfordshire will not pay the cost of transporting your child to another school. Seems fair to me. If every parent chose a school that was not their local school and expected the council to pay to transport their children to it I expect the council would go bust. Thinkingoutloud
  • Score: 5

10:51pm Wed 5 Feb 14

witneylass says...

I chose where to send my child to school and at an expense to myself for them to take the public bus or getting a lift in. That was my choice for my child to have a better education. Most parents have to pay for their child to get to school so why should people who live in remote areas be any different. However, it should be means tested rather than just based on the children who get free school meals. A few of the areas that are in line to lose transport are affluent and the families could easily afford to pay the cost just like I have to manage. Unfortunately they might have to forfeit one of their holidays, go somewhere cheaper for a change or get a less expensive car and start budgeting for school transport like others of us have to. It's either that or your child could end up going to the less desirable poor performing school that you've been trying to avoid in the first place.
I chose where to send my child to school and at an expense to myself for them to take the public bus or getting a lift in. That was my choice for my child to have a better education. Most parents have to pay for their child to get to school so why should people who live in remote areas be any different. However, it should be means tested rather than just based on the children who get free school meals. A few of the areas that are in line to lose transport are affluent and the families could easily afford to pay the cost just like I have to manage. Unfortunately they might have to forfeit one of their holidays, go somewhere cheaper for a change or get a less expensive car and start budgeting for school transport like others of us have to. It's either that or your child could end up going to the less desirable poor performing school that you've been trying to avoid in the first place. witneylass
  • Score: 4

9:08am Thu 6 Feb 14

King Joke says...

witneylass wrote:
I chose where to send my child to school and at an expense to myself for them to take the public bus or getting a lift in. That was my choice for my child to have a better education. Most parents have to pay for their child to get to school so why should people who live in remote areas be any different. However, it should be means tested rather than just based on the children who get free school meals. A few of the areas that are in line to lose transport are affluent and the families could easily afford to pay the cost just like I have to manage. Unfortunately they might have to forfeit one of their holidays, go somewhere cheaper for a change or get a less expensive car and start budgeting for school transport like others of us have to. It's either that or your child could end up going to the less desirable poor performing school that you've been trying to avoid in the first place.
Couldn't have put it better myself.
[quote][p][bold]witneylass[/bold] wrote: I chose where to send my child to school and at an expense to myself for them to take the public bus or getting a lift in. That was my choice for my child to have a better education. Most parents have to pay for their child to get to school so why should people who live in remote areas be any different. However, it should be means tested rather than just based on the children who get free school meals. A few of the areas that are in line to lose transport are affluent and the families could easily afford to pay the cost just like I have to manage. Unfortunately they might have to forfeit one of their holidays, go somewhere cheaper for a change or get a less expensive car and start budgeting for school transport like others of us have to. It's either that or your child could end up going to the less desirable poor performing school that you've been trying to avoid in the first place.[/p][/quote]Couldn't have put it better myself. King Joke
  • Score: 2

12:30pm Thu 6 Feb 14

lsumner says...

For many villages there is not a school within easy walking distance and therefore historical relationships have grown with schools, like Kennington children going to Matthew Arnold School (MAS) with whom there are fantastic feeder schools arrangements, which are encouraged by government, going back tens of years. Basing decisions on the concept of ‘nearest’ rather than understanding sensible travel routes ignores basic infrastructure, e.g. public transport, safe walking routes and the potential increase to traffic on local and main roads.

Continuing with Kennington as an example, the current buses ensure all children are able to get to their catchments school, Matthew Arnold, effectively without hundreds of extra cars clogging up already very busy roads. The 'nearest' school (which is Oxford Academy) involves either: (a) a walk round the ring road just under three miles, about a 45 minute journey if roads are passable (access to this route was flooded for best part of a week recently) and only deemed ‘safe’ if accompanied by an adult; (b) an hour’s journey involving two buses (in and out of the centre) and then a twenty minute walk or; (c) a 6.2 mile car journey taking over 20 mins adding much extra weight to the busy peak hours ring road traffic.

For a small chunk of the village the Oxford Academy is over three miles away and those children will be eligible for a key card bus pas, as will those children on free school meals who live further than two miles away. Those children also have a choice of the three ‘nearest’ schools’. None of these children will be able to use these passes for MAS though, even though the cost of the bus pass is the same and the journey time on public transport shorter (again two buses in and out of town, but a 9 min walk and total journey time of 50 mins). The car journey to MAS is estimated at 16 mins and 6.7 miles. It would be a 5.7 mile, 1 hr 30 min walk.

So only if children are able to walk every day would the Academy be a shorter journey than that to MAS, and this is dependent on the route being assessed as safe - OCC are hiring a new member of staff to check on all these things as they decided not to do so during the consultation, only assessing the route they thought was safe on Kennington when myself and others pointed out it clearly wasn’t (by river, floods regularly, no lighting). This ‘new’ route is only deemed as safe when accompanied by an adult; what happened to trying to make children independent and encouraging people to work (rather than spending a minimum of three hours a day accompanying your children to and fro school).

OCC at the Cabinet meeting claimed that identifying sensible routes that took into account transport and road infrastructure was too difficult. However the national websites such as http://www.transport
direct.info and www.bing.com/maps provides this information easily, quickly, and for free.

There are a plethora of services paid for out of our taxes, and we all use these to a greater or less degree throughout our lives. If you live in a village, you have less access to some amenities that people within the city have, but are still expected to pay the same amount of money. This is democracy. These plans will not allow us to pay for our children to take a school bus as these are being phased out, which means the demands on public transport and road infrastructure will be increased to the detriment of all who use the roads.

Many of these changes will cost OCC extra money, but they are banking on the changes in some area being great enough to offset this. They have not done enough modelling on what these changes might be to understand the real financial implications and I fear there will be few savings, but a real mess on our roads and serious disruption to the schooling of some children. There are more innovative and intelligent ways the school bus infrastructure could be changed but OCC have invested to heavily in this proposal to find these innovations, which does not bode well for the management of cuts to other services that are under discussion.
For many villages there is not a school within easy walking distance and therefore historical relationships have grown with schools, like Kennington children going to Matthew Arnold School (MAS) with whom there are fantastic feeder schools arrangements, which are encouraged by government, going back tens of years. Basing decisions on the concept of ‘nearest’ rather than understanding sensible travel routes ignores basic infrastructure, e.g. public transport, safe walking routes and the potential increase to traffic on local and main roads. Continuing with Kennington as an example, the current buses ensure all children are able to get to their catchments school, Matthew Arnold, effectively without hundreds of extra cars clogging up already very busy roads. The 'nearest' school (which is Oxford Academy) involves either: (a) a walk round the ring road just under three miles, about a 45 minute journey if roads are passable (access to this route was flooded for best part of a week recently) and only deemed ‘safe’ if accompanied by an adult; (b) an hour’s journey involving two buses (in and out of the centre) and then a twenty minute walk or; (c) a 6.2 mile car journey taking over 20 mins adding much extra weight to the busy peak hours ring road traffic. For a small chunk of the village the Oxford Academy is over three miles away and those children will be eligible for a key card bus pas, as will those children on free school meals who live further than two miles away. Those children also have a choice of the three ‘nearest’ schools’. None of these children will be able to use these passes for MAS though, even though the cost of the bus pass is the same and the journey time on public transport shorter (again two buses in and out of town, but a 9 min walk and total journey time of 50 mins). The car journey to MAS is estimated at 16 mins and 6.7 miles. It would be a 5.7 mile, 1 hr 30 min walk. So only if children are able to walk every day would the Academy be a shorter journey than that to MAS, and this is dependent on the route being assessed as safe - OCC are hiring a new member of staff to check on all these things as they decided not to do so during the consultation, only assessing the route they thought was safe on Kennington when myself and others pointed out it clearly wasn’t (by river, floods regularly, no lighting). This ‘new’ route is only deemed as safe when accompanied by an adult; what happened to trying to make children independent and encouraging people to work (rather than spending a minimum of three hours a day accompanying your children to and fro school). OCC at the Cabinet meeting claimed that identifying sensible routes that took into account transport and road infrastructure was too difficult. However the national websites such as http://www.transport direct.info and www.bing.com/maps provides this information easily, quickly, and for free. There are a plethora of services paid for out of our taxes, and we all use these to a greater or less degree throughout our lives. If you live in a village, you have less access to some amenities that people within the city have, but are still expected to pay the same amount of money. This is democracy. These plans will not allow us to pay for our children to take a school bus as these are being phased out, which means the demands on public transport and road infrastructure will be increased to the detriment of all who use the roads. Many of these changes will cost OCC extra money, but they are banking on the changes in some area being great enough to offset this. They have not done enough modelling on what these changes might be to understand the real financial implications and I fear there will be few savings, but a real mess on our roads and serious disruption to the schooling of some children. There are more innovative and intelligent ways the school bus infrastructure could be changed but OCC have invested to heavily in this proposal to find these innovations, which does not bode well for the management of cuts to other services that are under discussion. lsumner
  • Score: 4

12:37pm Thu 6 Feb 14

King Joke says...

Making schoolchildren use regular buses is not 'to the detriment of all who use the roads'. It might actually benefit regular bus passengers if routes are beefed up to cater for the demand.

The devil is in the detail here, we need beefed-up services if the regular network is to be expected to take up the slack from reductions to school services. There also has to be some kind of smart-card scholar's pass set up, so that (i) pricing does not encourage parents to drive rather than put their kids on a bus (ii) buses aren't delayed from kids paying cash fares.
Making schoolchildren use regular buses is not 'to the detriment of all who use the roads'. It might actually benefit regular bus passengers if routes are beefed up to cater for the demand. The devil is in the detail here, we need beefed-up services if the regular network is to be expected to take up the slack from reductions to school services. There also has to be some kind of smart-card scholar's pass set up, so that (i) pricing does not encourage parents to drive rather than put their kids on a bus (ii) buses aren't delayed from kids paying cash fares. King Joke
  • Score: 0

1:31pm Thu 6 Feb 14

lsumner says...

It will be absolutely necessary to beef up local buses where that is possible, the increased traffic that will come form those who choose to drive (because it is far quicker than two buses and a walk, however beefed up those buses are) and where there isn't a local bus to mop up the fall out. That will be a significant detriement to road users.
It will be absolutely necessary to beef up local buses where that is possible, the increased traffic that will come form those who choose to drive (because it is far quicker than two buses and a walk, however beefed up those buses are) and where there isn't a local bus to mop up the fall out. That will be a significant detriement to road users. lsumner
  • Score: 0

1:54pm Thu 6 Feb 14

King Joke says...

Why would MAS entail a 9-min walk? Looking at a map, the No 4 goes right past.
Why would MAS entail a 9-min walk? Looking at a map, the No 4 goes right past. King Joke
  • Score: 0

2:51pm Thu 6 Feb 14

lsumner says...

This is what the suggested route states. The point is the bigger picture, that MAS is the easier school to get to, and one of only a large number of schools affected in these odd ways. I'm all for saving money and providing cost effective services, but we have to do it rationally and sensibly, not in the manner OCC has just voted for.
This is what the suggested route states. The point is the bigger picture, that MAS is the easier school to get to, and one of only a large number of schools affected in these odd ways. I'm all for saving money and providing cost effective services, but we have to do it rationally and sensibly, not in the manner OCC has just voted for. lsumner
  • Score: 0

6:51pm Thu 6 Feb 14

Thinkingoutloud says...

lsumner wrote:
This is what the suggested route states. The point is the bigger picture, that MAS is the easier school to get to, and one of only a large number of schools affected in these odd ways. I'm all for saving money and providing cost effective services, but we have to do it rationally and sensibly, not in the manner OCC has just voted for.
it would be much quicker to get a bus from Kennington to Oxford Academy than it would to get a bus from Kennington to Cumnor.
[quote][p][bold]lsumner[/bold] wrote: This is what the suggested route states. The point is the bigger picture, that MAS is the easier school to get to, and one of only a large number of schools affected in these odd ways. I'm all for saving money and providing cost effective services, but we have to do it rationally and sensibly, not in the manner OCC has just voted for.[/p][/quote]it would be much quicker to get a bus from Kennington to Oxford Academy than it would to get a bus from Kennington to Cumnor. Thinkingoutloud
  • Score: 0

8:58am Fri 7 Feb 14

lsumner says...

Thinkingoutloud: As my previous post shows the bus journey to MAS is shorter than to the OA: the fact that the bus stops in Cowley means a 20 min walk after the two buses, the two buses to MAS and very little walk is quicker (50 mins to MAS vs one hour to OA). The drive would also take longer to OA. My point is to illustrate that the infrastructure and public transport services that should be well understood to predict how changes will impact services, children, parents, and other service users have not been given enough thought.
Thinkingoutloud: As my previous post shows the bus journey to MAS is shorter than to the OA: the fact that the bus stops in Cowley means a 20 min walk after the two buses, the two buses to MAS and very little walk is quicker (50 mins to MAS vs one hour to OA). The drive would also take longer to OA. My point is to illustrate that the infrastructure and public transport services that should be well understood to predict how changes will impact services, children, parents, and other service users have not been given enough thought. lsumner
  • Score: 0

9:13am Fri 7 Feb 14

King Joke says...

The catchment area and feeder-primary system is an excellent one that we abandon at our peril. The government of the day tried doing away with it in the early 90s, in the name of deregulation and 'choice' - and look how much choice it's given us. If there is no historic link between Kennington and Peers (whatever it's called this week) then there is no point making hundreds of kids switch to Peers because it saves a few grand off the travel budget.

The transport network should be an enabler to connect schools to their catchment areas by sustainable means wherever possible. Sometimes it's too far to walk or cycle so this generally has to be the bus.

What is up for debate is whether to achieve this through a dedicated school network, which has advantages but is costly owing to the six-hour dead period, or spend the same/less money beefing up the regular bus network to do the same job. The County is trying to do the latter which isn't a bad idea but they have to be scrutinised to make sure they do it properly!
The catchment area and feeder-primary system is an excellent one that we abandon at our peril. The government of the day tried doing away with it in the early 90s, in the name of deregulation and 'choice' - and look how much choice it's given us. If there is no historic link between Kennington and Peers (whatever it's called this week) then there is no point making hundreds of kids switch to Peers because it saves a few grand off the travel budget. The transport network should be an enabler to connect schools to their catchment areas by sustainable means wherever possible. Sometimes it's too far to walk or cycle so this generally has to be the bus. What is up for debate is whether to achieve this through a dedicated school network, which has advantages but is costly owing to the six-hour dead period, or spend the same/less money beefing up the regular bus network to do the same job. The County is trying to do the latter which isn't a bad idea but they have to be scrutinised to make sure they do it properly! King Joke
  • Score: 0

10:52am Fri 7 Feb 14

lsumner says...

You make some good points King Joke, particulary about excellent feeder-catchments, but my worry is that I don't think the council are trying to beef up the local bus infrastructure, they are relying on the fact that parents will drive children to current catchment schools, and many will (if they are able). In some areas there are not public transport routes to beef up, new ones would need to be created, or new school bus services laid on which all mean extra cost. The costs of the latter have been looked at which is why the council do not protest too much at alternative estimated cost savings which are reduced to potentially a couple of hundred thousand. Thus the fear is they will not do this properly at all. Clear and sensible alterates and plans for such infrastructure development should have been part of the process OCC went through to develop this consultation, but it does not seem to have been, rather we are simply faced with a cut of provision and no beefed up services to ameliorate for the potential impact of the volume of cars that will take to the road and the impact on the environment, communities, and parents ability to sustain work commitments.
You make some good points King Joke, particulary about excellent feeder-catchments, but my worry is that I don't think the council are trying to beef up the local bus infrastructure, they are relying on the fact that parents will drive children to current catchment schools, and many will (if they are able). In some areas there are not public transport routes to beef up, new ones would need to be created, or new school bus services laid on which all mean extra cost. The costs of the latter have been looked at which is why the council do not protest too much at alternative estimated cost savings which are reduced to potentially a couple of hundred thousand. Thus the fear is they will not do this properly at all. Clear and sensible alterates and plans for such infrastructure development should have been part of the process OCC went through to develop this consultation, but it does not seem to have been, rather we are simply faced with a cut of provision and no beefed up services to ameliorate for the potential impact of the volume of cars that will take to the road and the impact on the environment, communities, and parents ability to sustain work commitments. lsumner
  • Score: 1

11:05am Fri 7 Feb 14

King Joke says...

If that is the case you have a good case to protest. Something needs to be in place, or be put in place, to cater for these flows to avoid extra car journeys. That the 'something' may be paid for, rather than free as before, is tough I'm afraid, everyone's been hit by cuts. You are spot on however that it needs to be there. Don't let them get away with providing nothing. Good luck!
If that is the case you have a good case to protest. Something needs to be in place, or be put in place, to cater for these flows to avoid extra car journeys. That the 'something' may be paid for, rather than free as before, is tough I'm afraid, everyone's been hit by cuts. You are spot on however that it needs to be there. Don't let them get away with providing nothing. Good luck! King Joke
  • Score: 2

2:16pm Fri 7 Feb 14

alu355 says...

Can someone please elaborate on what these 'feeder' arrangements are? I don't see why children shouldn't go to lots of different schools on the change from primary to secondary. We live in a world where people move towns and even countries several times in their lives, should we really be having the mentality that a child's schools are decided by where they were born?
Can someone please elaborate on what these 'feeder' arrangements are? I don't see why children shouldn't go to lots of different schools on the change from primary to secondary. We live in a world where people move towns and even countries several times in their lives, should we really be having the mentality that a child's schools are decided by where they were born? alu355
  • Score: 0

2:28pm Fri 7 Feb 14

King Joke says...

People will always move, but where possible a network of feeder primaries should feed into each secondary. This keeps kids in friendship groups, enables class visits and makes progress reporting between primary and secondary staffs much smoother. It's a well-known and successful system. THere are many fields where such planning, coordination and organisation are out of vogue, and many fields are the poorer for it.
People will always move, but where possible a network of feeder primaries should feed into each secondary. This keeps kids in friendship groups, enables class visits and makes progress reporting between primary and secondary staffs much smoother. It's a well-known and successful system. THere are many fields where such planning, coordination and organisation are out of vogue, and many fields are the poorer for it. King Joke
  • Score: 5

12:49pm Sat 8 Feb 14

faatmaan says...

if schools have feeders, that means they should be going to that school , which should be governed by geographical location, too much choice has lead to his position where a child is shipped across large areas to satisfy the parents desire to achieve social mobility, the situation is best highlighted by the considerable drop in traffic , so the busses are not actually the be all.
if schools have feeders, that means they should be going to that school , which should be governed by geographical location, too much choice has lead to his position where a child is shipped across large areas to satisfy the parents desire to achieve social mobility, the situation is best highlighted by the considerable drop in traffic , so the busses are not actually the be all. faatmaan
  • Score: 0

8:33am Mon 10 Feb 14

King Joke says...

You'd still need buses even if every child went to their catchment school, realistically you can't have a secondary school every half a mile, so some kids will always live more than walking distance away. I'd say walking distance for 11-18 YOs is
You'd still need buses even if every child went to their catchment school, realistically you can't have a secondary school every half a mile, so some kids will always live more than walking distance away. I'd say walking distance for 11-18 YOs is King Joke
  • Score: 0

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