Saturday 18 March 2017 06.00 GMT
New grammar school pupils could be ferried up to 15 miles by taxi to their schools, at a cost of up to £5,000 per pupil every year, despite cuts to last year’s general school transport budget for disabled and disadvantaged pupils.
The government has said it would invest £5m a year to fund transport for the poorest pupils to reach grammar schools so costs were not a barrier to a selective education for pupils who received free school meals or whose parents claimed maximum working tax credits.
About 1,000-1,500 pupils are estimated to require the funding, meaning that the cost per pupil could be as high as £5,000 if taxis were used. The government is expected to spend £20m on the transport over the parliament.
“We recognise that for many parents the cost of travel can be a barrier to exercising that choice,” the chancellor, Philip Hammond, said in his budget speech.
“Pupils typically travel three times as far to attend selective schools, so we will extend free school transport to include all children on free school meals who attend a selective school because we are resolved that talent alone should determine the opportunities a child enjoys.”link to original article
A Department for Education spokesperson said: “Thousands of pupils on free school meals and other children from low income families will benefit from this new measure, removing the barrier that high transport costs can present.
“We will be working with selective schools and local authorities to provide this free transport, building on the service local authorities already provide to low income families attending other schools. Free school transport for pupils from low-income families has stayed in line with the numbers entitled to the service.”