30/06/2016 - Permalink

Shropshire Council urges Powys County Council to rethink Llanfyllin High School transport decision

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Shropshire Council has told Powys County Council that the families of 149 Shropshire-based pupils who attend Llanfyllin High School have been ‘let down’ by Powys’ decision to phase out subsidised travel to the school for out-of-area pupils over the next two years.

In a letter to Powys County Council, Shropshire Council has asked them to think again, due to the unfairness of the decision and the increased financial burden that would be placed on the Shropshire families at the end of the two years.

David Minnery, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for children and young people, said:

“Shropshire parents are reporting to their local councillors that they will struggle to afford these increased costs, and through no fault of their own.

“These parents chose to send their children to Llanfyllin High School on the basis that subsidised transport was provided, and it is simply not reasonable to change that policy mid-term.

“Families have been let down by Powys County Council and the decent action is to honour the agreed arrangement for all 149 pupils until they leave the school, and not pass responsibility on to Shropshire Council where it does not belong nor can be reasonably met.

“Shropshire Council will be unable to support these families at the end of the two years as our policy is to provide free school transport where the nearest school is more than three miles from a pupil’s home address – and none of the 149 pupils meet this criteria.

“We are therefore urging Powys’s Cabinet to review and rethink their decision.”

The Marches School in Oswestry has confirmed that it has capacity to accommodate any Shropshire-resident pupils whose parents choose to remove them from Llanfyllin High School. The school is happy to receive any enquiries from parents considering this option.

Further information

1. Llanfyllin High School has been found by Powys County Council to have been non-compliant, since September 2011, with Regulation 5.2 in the Powys Scheme for the Financing of Schools on the use of their delegated schools budget to subsidise home-to-school transport. The school has accepted that it must comply with council policy and cease subsidising out-of-catchment area transport from its delegated budget. The council has sought independent legal opinion that confirms the school has acted unlawfully.

2. In the case of Llanfyllin High School, there is small area around Pen-Y-bont Llanerch Emrys for which the school is nearer than The Marches School and for which eligibility for free school transport would therefore apply.

3. Powys County Council, and Llanfyllin High School, benefit from Welsh government funding for out-of-area pupils.

4. Shropshire does not receive any funding for resident pupils educated in a neighbouring local authority. Based on what is called a Guaranteed Unit of Funding, Shropshire receives over £4,400 per pupil for every pupil educated in the county. Had the parents of the 149 pupils chosen to place their children in a Shropshire secondary school, this would have drawn down over £650,000 in education funding into the county.