Head's anger at U-turn over free school buses

Essex County Standard: Head's anger at U-turn over free school buses Head's anger at U-turn over free school buses

A FURIOUS headteacher says Essex County Council should be ashamed of itself for a u-turn which could cost some parents £900 a year, or more.

The head of Brightlingsea’s Colne School angrily criticised county councillors, accusing them of breaking an earlier promise over free school buses for pupils from Wivenhoe.

A new council policy means from next year, Essex children starting at a fresh school will only get free transport to their nearest one, instead of to any in their catchment area.

Colne School principal Nardeep Sharma says he’d been assured County Hall would make an exception for his Wivenhoe pupils, since so many had chosen his school, rather than to the nearer Colchester Academy.

This week the school learned this was not the case – and parents of children starting in 2015 would have to pay as much as £900 a year for each child.

Mr Sharma said: “I’m shocked and saddened by the actions of the council, a body I have previously had no reason to mistrust. Now I do so wholly.

“This completely undermines parental choice. Councillors have misled parents – the people who elected them. In my opinion, they should be ashamed of their conduct.”

Last autumn, the council announced the new policy, aimed at saving £25million a year, would come into force in September 2015.

Colne School is about six miles from Wivenhoe – two miles further than Colchester Academy, though parents say congestion means the journey time is about the same.

Colne School was rated “outstanding” by Ofsted at its last inspection.

Colchester Academy was given an unflattering “requires improvement” assessment.

Mr Sharma said after three meetings with the council on the issue, he was shocked by the news.

He said:“Budgets are tight in all public organisations, but they are equally tight in parents’ pockets. I’m deeply concerned parents’ rights have been taken away.

“They will have to choose a school, based on what they can afford, rather than the school of their choice.”

But the  councillor in charge of Education at County Hall has denied ever promising to make an exception for Colne School’s Wivenhoe pupils.

Last night Tory county councillor Ray Gooding told the Gazette suggestions it would continue to fund the buses was down to a misunderstanding.

He said at a meeting in February it had been suggested Wivenhoe Town Council might “put some money into a pot” to help subsidise the buses.

He added: “It would seem some of those present at the meeting misunderstood this proposal and felt the county council would use funds which would otherwise be spent transporting children to Colchester Academy to support the cost of transporting non-entitled children to the Colne School.

“This is not the case. We have adopted a new policy, which will be applied fairly and consistently across the county for new applicants from September 2015.

“There is no basis for making an exception in the case of Wivenhoe and setting a precedent that could have far-reaching and significant financial implications.”

Comments (7)

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11:47am Fri 27 Jun 14

Jack222 says...

Well done ECC; I agree free school transport to the local school is all that is required.
Well done ECC; I agree free school transport to the local school is all that is required. Jack222
  • Score: 0

12:21pm Fri 27 Jun 14

rebelscum says...

Jack222 you have the same lack of common sense as Cllr Gooding. The Colne has been Wivenhoe's local school for many years. The difference in distance is negligible although the time taken to get to and from Col.Academy will be much longer and will only add to the traffic chaos in that part of Colchester.
More importantly it will mean cash-strapped parents forced to send younger siblings to a different school or pay thousands extra to attend the Colne.
Jack222 you have the same lack of common sense as Cllr Gooding. The Colne has been Wivenhoe's local school for many years. The difference in distance is negligible although the time taken to get to and from Col.Academy will be much longer and will only add to the traffic chaos in that part of Colchester. More importantly it will mean cash-strapped parents forced to send younger siblings to a different school or pay thousands extra to attend the Colne. rebelscum
  • Score: 11

12:56pm Fri 27 Jun 14

Ontheball says...

Can you wonder any any decision reached by the incompetents in Chelmsford. Rebel you have it in one, but then who cares about Colchester's problems in the dug-heap of County Hall!
Can you wonder any any decision reached by the incompetents in Chelmsford. Rebel you have it in one, but then who cares about Colchester's problems in the dug-heap of County Hall! Ontheball
  • Score: 7

2:20pm Fri 27 Jun 14

executive says...

The same thing happened when Paul White (aka Lord Hanningfield ) was in charge of education and wanted Wivenhoe pupils to fill up the new Gilberd School. All sorts of promises about younger siblings being able to go there, school busses etc. Sent our kids to the Colne and never regretted it, part of the Colchester East Coast community. I'm sure the same promises came out again. As usual Chelmsford gets what it wants. A whole incompetent bunch of wasters making these decisions. Back in 1980's I wouldn't trust them any further than I could throw them and nothing has changed.
The same thing happened when Paul White (aka Lord Hanningfield ) was in charge of education and wanted Wivenhoe pupils to fill up the new Gilberd School. All sorts of promises about younger siblings being able to go there, school busses etc. Sent our kids to the Colne and never regretted it, part of the Colchester East Coast community. I'm sure the same promises came out again. As usual Chelmsford gets what it wants. A whole incompetent bunch of wasters making these decisions. Back in 1980's I wouldn't trust them any further than I could throw them and nothing has changed. executive
  • Score: 10

2:06am Sat 28 Jun 14

Boris says...

ECC had a track record under Hanningfield of destroying good schools, and it seems the policy continues. Thje writing is nbow on the wall for Colne
ECC had a track record under Hanningfield of destroying good schools, and it seems the policy continues. Thje writing is nbow on the wall for Colne Boris
  • Score: 6

2:09am Sat 28 Jun 14

Boris says...

Boris wrote:
ECC had a track record under Hanningfield of destroying good schools, and it seems the policy continues. Thje writing is nbow on the wall for Colne
Sorry, jumped the gun there. I'll try again.
.
ECC had a track record under Hanningfield of destroying good schools, and it seems the policy continues. The writing is now on the wall for Colne School.
[quote][p][bold]Boris[/bold] wrote: ECC had a track record under Hanningfield of destroying good schools, and it seems the policy continues. Thje writing is nbow on the wall for Colne[/p][/quote]Sorry, jumped the gun there. I'll try again. . ECC had a track record under Hanningfield of destroying good schools, and it seems the policy continues. The writing is now on the wall for Colne School. Boris
  • Score: 2

12:11pm Thu 3 Jul 14

Hestiant says...

If you look at the pricing it may well be cheaper to go to Colchester high school (The public one you have to pay for).

This is pathetic at any rate. This country is supposed to be about diversity and freedom of choice. I don't come from a wealthy family or anything like the sort. I don't get pocket money and all that crap. Everyone in my family works to support each other therefore we would not be able to afford the luxury of choice.
I just don't understand what kind of logic the council is using. When I left primary school, 5 years ago, do you know how many went to a school in Colchester? 4. Four out of Thirty. Everyone else went to the Colne.
If you look at the pricing it may well be cheaper to go to Colchester high school (The public one you have to pay for). This is pathetic at any rate. This country is supposed to be about diversity and freedom of choice. I don't come from a wealthy family or anything like the sort. I don't get pocket money and all that crap. Everyone in my family works to support each other therefore we would not be able to afford the luxury of choice. I just don't understand what kind of logic the council is using. When I left primary school, 5 years ago, do you know how many went to a school in Colchester? 4. Four out of Thirty. Everyone else went to the Colne. Hestiant
  • Score: 2
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