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Suffolk County Council issue update on school travel applications - 152 still awaiting outcome

Suffolk County Council have issued an update on school travel applications, with 152 applications still awaiting an outcome, as most schools return tomorrow.

Today (Tuesday), 152 spare seat applications that were received on time are still awaiting an outcome.

The council have said this is because they are unable to process these applications until applications from entitled students have been processed, GCSE results also have had a significant baring on the allocation of spare seats.

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

There are 530 outstanding late applications for school travel, 185 of these were received between August 27 to August 31 - three months after the deadline of May 31. Out of the 530 outstanding late applications 168 have requested a spare seat.

The total number of applications received by the county council this year is 10,288 - including the latest applications received last week.

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.

“We do have a backlog of late applications which the team is currently working through and I would like to thank them all for their hard work and dedication. We have not reduced the capacity of available seats for this September so we hope that the spare seat applications can be met.

“I would like to ask parents to help us to make progress by not reapplying if you have already applied for school travel. I would also like to remind everyone that it is the parents’ responsibility to ensure their child gets to school, if parents haven’t received the outcome of their application by the first day of term, they must make their own travel arrangements.

“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.”

Yesterday the council issued 2,500 bus passes to pupils, taking the number of passes issued to a total of around 8,000.

Cllr Jack Abbott, Labour spokesperson for children's services, education and skills, said: “I feel so incredibly sorry for all the families who have had to endure terrible stress and anxiety this summer.

“There will be dozens of children starting the new school term with no school transport, despite applying well before the application deadline and desperately seeking resolution.

“You can barely believe how badly this has been handled. We warned that this policy was fundamentally flawed, but no-one could have predicted such a shambolic implementation. It has been absolutely chaotic.”

Suffolk County Council is continuing to send letters of confirmation out to parents to inform them of their eligibility.

The council have said it is imperative that a suitable photo of the child is loaded onto the system before any pass can be issued.

They have found there are a high number of cases where a funded seat has been confirmed but no photo is currently on the system.

No bus pass can be issued until this is in place.

To add a photo, parents need to visit www.suffolkonboard.com/photo and follow the instructions on screen.

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