Paying for school transport - fair or not?

Now that it is law for school leavers to stay in education until they are 18, why do parents have to stump up the cost of transport to Sixth form/college?
My son is going to sixth form and the bill for transport is £800 per year. He can't get a public bus as we live rurally, so the nearest bus stop is a mile away which takes him 2 miles away from his school. There is school transport provided and this was free up until this year. So even though he cannot earn and has to stay in public transport, he is not entitled to free transport. What is the logic behind this? I am genuinely interested as to the government's reasoning. I understand paying if this was a choice to stay in education, but it's not a choice, it's the law. I don't get the difference suddenly behind last year when it was free and this year when it is not. It's the same school, same bus. Does anyone know?


  • Most parents 'stump up the cost' for getting their children to school, let alone sixth form.

    Looks like you got lucky by having it free for so long.
  • pramsay13
    pramsay13 Posts: 1,949 Forumite
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    Why can't he earn?
    Having extra transport issues is one of the things you weigh up when choosing a house that is in a rural location.
  • So many presumptions! I was asking about general policy here but if you like here are my circumstances; we chose to live here because it was the only house we could afford to buy. School transport is free under certain circumstances, such as if you are on benefits, or if the school is more than a certain distance from the house and it's unsafe to walk, or if there is no public transport. We ticked the last two.
    I won't be the only parent who is now asked to pay. My question was more along the lines of; if education is now compulsory why hasn't the policy around school transport changed? 
    As for why they cannot get a job, have you done A Levels? It's still pretty much full time education, try getting a job in a rural location that fits in with school hours. 
    The issue is that his transport has been free through his secondary school years (we walked to primary) and the only thing that has changed is that he is a year older. He is still in full time education as mandated by the government. So why hasn't the policy on school transport caught up? 
  • NBLondon
    NBLondon Posts: 5,529 Forumite
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    MNrhubarb said:
    Now that it is law for school leavers to stay in education until they are 18, why do parents have to stump up the cost of transport to Sixth form/college?

    Education or Training.   Your son has the option of finding an apprenticeship - thus earning a wage and paying for transport.  If he's 16 he can buy and ride a moped.
    Wash your Knobs and Knockers... Keep the Postie safe!
  • rach_k
    rach_k Posts: 2,236 Forumite
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    Your view has just been skewed because you qualified for free transport before.  Most parents have to pay. 

    Parents in London are up-in-arms that free public transport for children (at all times) may be taken away, but they were never bothered about the rest of the country paying £800 a year just for school transport before, so it's not that they're against children being charged, it's just that they themselves don't want to cough up.  Sounds similar to you really.  

    When school became compulsory for 5 year olds, I'm sure some parents complained about the cost.  Once they were required to stay on after 11 years old, more probably complained again.  It's the same thing you're doing now.  The law requires parents to ensure that their children are educated.  If you choose to have the state do that for you in a school or college, you pay to get them there.  Same as having kids and being required to feed them.  
  • £500 is more than enough to buy a perfectly good bike that will last him 2 years plus some lights for winter and he could use it to socialise, get to a local job etc. You can do a mile in about 5 minutes on a bike for someone who is reasonably fit and arguably safer than a scooter.
  • Again, this is not solely about me. My argument is that children who had valid reasons to get free school transport now have to pay. Apprenticeships are few and far between. The choice given is A Levels or college. So if you choose either one of those you have to pay for them to get there and back even though they are still technically children and still in full time education.

    If my son could have walked out of school and got a full time job I think he would have preferred that and I know many other kids who would prefer to do the same. Further education doesn't suit all. There are many farmers whose children are compelled to carry on schooling until they are 18 when actually, they would much prefer that they worked full time on the farm. These are the families who can ill afford to pay for public transport to take kids to a school or college that they don't even want to go to.

    My point is that children over 16 are now lawfully required to stay in education. So why doesn't the government have the same rules for school transport that they did whilst they were attending secondary school? 

    I won't comment further on my own circumstances as I feel that is muddying the waters. This is a government policy question. I feel it is hugely unfair to expect children to stay in further education as it is, it's not appropriate for all of them. Then expecting them to find the money to pay for transport just seems to rub salt in. £800 is a considerable amount of money per year. And to be honest it hits rural folk more as we don't have public transport thanks to government cutbacks, so we have very little choice in the matter. Kids on bikes along dark country roads in winter is not an ideal situation.

    Guess it's just me who thinks it unfair then? 
  • Guess so. 
  • I'm in a similar position to the OP but we were expecting the additional cost. I'm now working from home for the foreseeable so we are moving to car sharing with one friend next week. 
    I know others that live in the county and have had to pay for travel from yr 7 and live further away from the school than us. I think it was £20 a week and no reductions for further children. So do consider myself lucky for having saved £40 a week for the last 4/5 years. 
    I can see the arguement that the system should be updated to reflect current rules on leaving education.
    We do have the option of a local bus that's about £1.50 a day but timings aren't perfect. 
    My Son is hoping to be able to ride a 125 from the final term of yr 12 - but that's going to cost me more than the bus
  • Thanks @fairyclairethehare - that is my point exactly. Education or training is now compulsory until the age of 18. When education became compulsory up to the age of 16 public authorities were required to help with transport and there are circumstances whereby this is provided free of charge. This is from GOV.UK

    All children between 5 and 16 qualify for free school transport if they go to their nearest suitable school and live at least:

    • 2 miles from the school if they’re under 8
    • 3 miles from the school if they’re 8 or older
    As the law has been updated to ensure training or education provisions for under 18s, surely the above should be extended to all children between 5 and 18 based on the qualifiers? 
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