No school bus places for at least 24 Isle of Wight teens

Concerned parents said they may be left with no choice but to pay for additional childcare, or take time off work, in order to pick up their children from school.

vectis blue school bus

Twenty-four children in Bembridge and St Helens have been left without school bus places for the coming year.

Concerned parents said they may be left with no choice but to pay for additional childcare, or take time off work, in order to pick up their children from school.

The issue has affected at least 24 children who live in Bembridge and St Helens, and attend Ryde Academy, or Medina College. They have been placed on a waiting list for a privilege bus seat. If the children were at Sandown Bay Academy they would be entitled to free bus places.

Parent: Would have to pay £12 per day for school club
Nicola Evans, from Brook Furlong, has two children at Bembridge Primary school and one about to enter Year 8 at Ryde Academy.

She said:

“Because of the clash of finishing times, there is no way I can pick up all three of them on time.

“I’d have to put my youngest two in after school club, which would cost me £12 a day.”

Parent: “I can’t stop crying”
Another parent from St Helens, who asked to remain anonymous, said her 14-year-old son would now have to take four buses a day, with a round trip of three hours — including a half-an-hour wait at Ryde bus station every evening.

She said:

“It’s not fair on the children. I am going to spend the whole time worrying about him — particularly when it’s winter, and dark, and he’s hanging around Ryde bus station.

“I just can’t stop crying when I think about it.”

Parent: “Why can’t they run another bus?”
Sam Stanton, from Howgate Road, said she could have to work longer hours if she had to take time off during the day to pick up 12-year-old Madeline from Ryde Academy.
She said she was willing to pay £130 a term for a ticket:

“Why can’t they run another bus from Bembridge?

“Ryde Academy is only half a mile further away from Bembridge than Sandown, and when we had to apply for places last year it was when everything was up in the air at Sandown.

“I feel like we are being penalised for making a choice for our children.

“I’ll have to go back to work after picking her up and work longer in to the evening.”

Goff: Additional bus unlikely
Martin Goff, head of information, transport and admissions for the Hampshire children’s services department, said it was unlikely an additional bus service could be provided for the children in Bembridge.

He said it would cost the authority a thousand pounds a year, per child. The parental cost of a privilege bus seat is £390 a year.

Mr Goff said:

“We can’t provide a service for anything near the price of the privilege seats. We have already had complaints about the price.

“It is down to parental choice. If you choose anything other than your nearest suitable school, it’s down to you, the parent, to provide transport.”

‘Nearest suitable school’ defined in law
Mr Goff added that despite the half a mile difference, the ‘nearest suitable school’ was defined in law as the school nearest to the parents.


This article is from the BBC’s LDRS (Local Democracy Reporter Service) scheme, which OnTheWight is taking part in. Some additions by OnTheWight. Ed

Any views or opinions presented in the comments below are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.

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5 Comments on "No school bus places for at least 24 Isle of Wight teens"

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alisonjane
These children are entitled to free transport to their nearest high school because they live more than 3 miles away. What difference does it make where the school is as every high school is more than 3 miles away from where these children live. Surely this is just ‘splitting hairs?’ This time last year Sandown was faced with closure so parents were hardly going to put that… Read more »
Colin
Just a thought. Why not hire a minibus or two, maybe a small coach? The pupils would travel from door to door and the cost of a regular hire for a short journey might not be too bad. I realise it’s not ideal, but the cost for that number as a group would solve the problem. Of course the IWC doesn’t bother with the cost to parents… Read more »
alisonjane

An even better idea Colin…why not get Christ The King school to pay back the two and a half million pounds they owe the Isle Of Wight Council?
As the only high school under the Local Education Authority, this would give enough money to put an extra bus on to get these children to school….maybe that would be too easy!

Colin
Trouble is, the IWC pay in excess of £4 million per year on transport for pupils from home to school. That’s about £20,000 per school day. The reason for some of this is that local middle schools were closed without even a thought for the future transport costs so that pupils have more years travel to distant schools. Had the IWC any brains at all they would… Read more »
Nitonia

Unfortunately Mr Goff doesn’t explain what the definition of “suitable” is in this context.

Another thing worth checking is the exact distances (by road) between your houses and the schools concerned as the Council has some previous of giving out misleading information on this.