School travel safety fears.

Cuts to discretionary school transport implemented by councils  mean that from this week some students who previously have had an entitlement to free school travel will now face  a  long walk and dangerous walk to school, according tothe Guardian.

School buses and concessionary fares are being cut nationwide, from Durham, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire to Peterborough, Hampshire, and Devon.

In an open letter sent to Michael Gove this week, a coalition of groups including children’s charities, teaching unions and poverty campaigners call on the education secretary to change the guidelines on what constitutes a safe route.

They write: “There can surely be no point in standing by whilst savings made by local authorities increase costs to the taxpayer elsewhere due to possible hospital costs to an injured child, extra benefit payments because parents can’t work, and lost tax receipts as parents can’t continue in their job or have to choose not to go back to work.”

The current guidelines presume children will be accompanied by a responsible adult, meaning councils can declare routes up to three miles long (or two miles for under eights) safe even if they are unlit, have 60mph speed limits, no pavements or step-offs, and are used by heavy commercial traffic.

 The letter’s signatories, who include representatives from the NUT and ATL, the Child Poverty Action Group, Unison, Gingerbread, Children England, the Grandparents’ Association and the Child Accident Prevention Trust, call for new statutory guidelines that say a route can only be deemed safe if a child of 11 is able to walk it alone.

They also complain that because children on free school meals get transport on routes that are over two miles long and will therefore still get a bus to school while their classmates walk, the kind of cuts seen in East Sussex risk stigmatising pupils from low-income families

Families are now being put off moving to rural areas because of this problem. Many believe that villages will now become ghettos for the old, childless and wealthy people.

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About dbda
dbda is a corporate social responsibility consultancy embracing education and safety in the community. We are privileged to work with a large number of blue chip corporate clients, Government organisations, charitable bodies, Institutes and local authorities. We also have a network of schools, professional bodies, associations, universities and partners, with whom we regularly work in collaboration.

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