Belfast Telegraph

Education Minister allocates extra funds for school buses

Previously, students who were attending their second closest school were allocated transport on the basis of random selection.

Education Minister Joe McHugh (Niall Carson/PA)
Education Minister Joe McHugh (Niall Carson/PA)

By Cate McCurry and Aoife Moore, PA

The Minister for Education has provided additional funding to alleviate issues concerning school buses.

The move comes after a campaign by parents to get the Department of Education to change the rules, when it emerged 18 children from one school were told they could no longer use the school bus because of lack of space.

Some parents had reportedly begun looking into private contractors for transport and a car-pool system.

Previously, students who were attending their second closest school were allocated transport on the basis of random selection, however it emerged some had not been provided with any school buses for the year 2019/2020.

A spokesman confirmed to the PA news agency that the minister has since issued an instruction to officials to spend additional funds in an attempt to alleviate problems for secondary students in the worst affected areas.

A letter, sent by Education Minister Joe McHugh to Assistant General Secretary Ned Costello, states that every eligible student, who met the requisite distance criteria, and paid on time, must have a service for the beginning of the school year on August 28.

“The Minister has made his views on this annual problem well known,” the spokesman said.

“If the 2011 review of school transport was implemented in full, then about 30,000 youngsters face being kicked off buses.

“Where buses are already serving schools, and where more common sense solutions can be found in the worst affected areas,  then working on those issues makes sense in terms of climate action, supporting rural Ireland and local business and also understanding some of the many stresses families are under.

“The Minister wanted to take this action months ago.

“It should also be noted that the vast majority of the growth in spend on school transport is for children with special needs, not on trying to accommodate more children where a bigger bus can be put on.”

PA

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