SCHOOL TRANSPORT: Headteacher’s comments were alarmist

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I would like to reply to the front page story of last week’s Lincolnshire Free Press and the rather alarmist comments from the headteacher to students using the commercial bus service to and from the Thomas Cowley High.

Looking at the reactions from the public on your website page, it seems that the majority also share this view.

Lincolnshire County Council takes its duty of care for travelling students very seriously. The use of public transport to take children to and from school is a safe and obvious option countrywide.

It is not appropriate to see every travelling member of the public as a potential paedophile and there is no evidence to suggest that a child is at more risk as a consequence of travelling on a public bus service.

In fact, having older, more responsible passengers on board usually has positive behavioural effects on the youngsters.

Children who are paying a fare to get to the Thomas Cowley School in Donington are those who are not eligible for free transport either because they live within three miles of the school or their parents have chosen this as an option rather than attend a nearer, designated school.

For these ‘non-entitled’ pupils, transport becomes parental responsibility and so parents should factor in travel arrangements and costs when considering school options.

The majority of time it is cheaper to purchase a journey on the existing public bus network than to hire in dedicated transport for the sole use of pupils at a school.

It is therefore unlikely that the travel costs will be significantly reduced under any other option unless the Thomas Cowley headteacher is willing to subsidise travel costs for his students.

Can I just end by reminding that, despite continuing financial pressures, the county council spends a huge £26m on home to school/college transport for those entitled to it, every year.

Anita Ruffle

Transport manager

Lincolnshire County Council