The letter below was sent to newspapers across Essex on 04/09/2014 from concerned residents of Wivenhoe in the North of the county and Brentwood in the South. Further detail about these changes and how they will affect both our towns is available here:
If you are likely to be adversely affected by this policy change, or are concerned about the implications of it, please leave a comment on this post, on our Facebook page, on Twitter at @AskBrentwood or by email to email@example.com
“Changes in school transport may offer no savings and simply damage community and family life”
Parents across Essex will now have received their application instructions to allow them to select their preferences for entry to secondary school in September 2015. What many may not have realised is that if they live more than three miles from their nearest school their choice may depend on whether they can afford to pay for their child’s transport.
In January this year Essex County Council (ECC) decided that, having formerly paid for transport based on school catchments, funding would now only be provided to travel to the nearest school by walking distance.
For those living in Brentwood’s villages or neighbouring areas this means only those who can afford to pay will have any choice of school.
In Wivenhoe, withdrawal of funding will mean that only those who can afford to pay will be able to attend the school in Brightlingsea which has been the choice for generations and all the primary schools are feeders for. This is because ECC will now only pay for travel to a school in Colchester, which is closer as the crow flies but takes as long to get to because of traffic congestion. Worse, this will not provide any saving to the Council.
ECC have indicated that these are exceptions, but if the South and North of Essex are anything to go by, it is likely that others living in the rural areas of Essex will be affected too.
This hard line policy change means that choice is only available for those who can afford it and threatens community cohesion and family life as a result.
We believe that ECC should review and amend this policy as it affects families throughout the County not just those in exceptional circumstances.
If you or your school believe that you will be adversely impacted by this change please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can ensure that ECC properly understand the effect this measure will have on Essex families.
Debbie Foster, Kathryn Mayo, Stephen Mayo, Richard Millwood, Jacqui Nyiro – Brentwood
Mark Cory, Andrea Luxford-Vaughan, Kevin Read – Wivenhoe