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Funding cuts leave children with no transport to school

Controversial school transport funding cuts have left children stranded with no means of travelling to school as the academic year began this week.

Suffolk County Council issued an update on school travel applications on Tuesday which said 152 applications were still awaiting an outcome.

The council said this was because it was unable to process these applications until they hadprocessed those from entitled students.

Cllr Gordon Jones, cabinet member for children’s services,education and skills.
Cllr Gordon Jones, cabinet member for children’s services,education and skills.

Stephanie Taylor, of Coney Weston, was left in the situation of having to ask a friend to take her 11-year-old daughter, Lily, to her first day at secondary school.

Lily started Thurston Community College on Wednesday.

The council has deemed Stephanie’s home is closest to Ixworth Free School, so she was not offered a funded seat, however she appealed for a spare seat in March –well before the deadline in May.

She cannot take Lily to school herself as she has a younger daughter who she takes to primary school.

“If the appeal is declined we will have to draw together with some mums to try to figure it out,” Stephanie said. “This has very much marred the school holidays, I have suffered with anxiety.”

A grandparent who lives in Stanton was forced to send her grandson, aged 11, on a public bus to his first day of secondary school. She opted to send him to Thurston Community College as Ixworth Free School – her closest school according to the council– does not offer music at GCSE which her grandson wishes to study.

“I wouldn’t let my grandson get a public bus to Bury on a Saturday, so why would I let him now,” she said.

Gordon Jones, cabinet member for children’s services, education and skills, said: “I understand this is a frustrating time for families who are waiting to hear the outcome of their spare seat application. Can I please reiterate that every child whose application was received on time and who is entitled to SCC funded school travel has received confirmation of their application outcome.

“This is the first year of this new process. Lessons are being learnt all the time and we will be making adjustments and improvements to the process in preparation for future years.”

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