School Buses threat

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THE area receiving free school transport to Mildenhall College of Technology could be halved from September 2013.

Proposals by Suffolk County Council could see the catchment area receiving free transport to the school slashed following the opening of IES Breckland free school in Brandon.

The catchment area for Mildenhall College of Technology (MCT) currently includes Brandon, Elveden and Sedge Fen.

Under the proposal from September 2013 these areas would form the new catchment area for IES Breckland and free transport to MCT would no longer be available for new students.

Headteacher Susan Byles said: “There is a strong feeling that withdrawing free transport to Mildenhall College of Technology from these areas would mean that parents in Brandon, Elveden, Sedge Fen and other areas might have no choice but to send their children to either the free school in Brandon or Thetford Academy.”

Existing students would continue to receive free transport to MCT until they finish their education but their siblings joining in 2013 would not be eligible.

Forest Heath District councillor Tim Huggan has raised further concerns that a reduction in the number of students attending the school would lead to a loss of funding.

Free schools receive the same treatment as local authority controlled schools in terms of transport.

Graham Newman, Suffolk County Council portfolio holder for children, schools and young people’s services, explained it was not financially viable for the council to provide transport to both schools indefinitely.

He said: “We have to try and tailor the systems to meet the requirements with the least damage to children.”

In a consultation document the council predicts the changes could save up to £100,000 a year.

Ms Byles said: “It is unfair to propose these changes just in areas where there are free schools emerging.

“We ask that parents living in the areas concerned do put their comments in writing by completing the online consultation or by email or letter to Suffolk county Council.”