HAVE YOUR SAY: Harrogate faith schools' transport cuts

The change will come into effect in 2016 for secondary schools and 2018 for primaries.
The change will come into effect in 2016 for secondary schools and 2018 for primaries.

Harrogate schools are working together to “find a solution” after North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) have withdrawn responsibility for transport to faith schools.

St Aidan’s and St John Fisher’s (SJF) are two of five denomination secondary schools in the county which will be affected by the decision made in 2012.

Disgruntled parents will have to take on the full cost of the buses which transport their children to both schools from September 2016.

Headteacher at SJF, Rob Pritchard, said: “St John Fishers and St Aidans don’t want to leave parents high and dry. Both schools have got together to ensure the routes still run.

“The parents are really angry but they are angry at the local authority and they are supportive of both schools because we are trying to find a solution.

“We are helpless because we can’t do anything about it, we are left picking up the pieces.”

But with transport to faith schools regarded as discretionary, the council have said it is the choice of parents where to send their children.

Arthur Barker, NYCC Executive Member for education said: “We have made parents aware of the situation so it shouldn’t be a surprise to them.

“It’s the choice of parents who decide to send their children to faith schools.

“I can understand people may have forgotten about it. I would say that they were informed of the decision and they chose to send their children there in light of that decision.”

Some students will still be eligible for subsidised transport through the council, although Mr Barker admitted this was the minority.

But while Mr Pritchard said both schools were still well over-subscribed, he highlighted some of the knock-on issues of the cuts.

He said: “I thought we have a sustainable transport policy but all it means is that parents will bring the students in their cars, because people will still come to the schools.

“It hasn’t affected the popularity of either school but what it does do is make it much more difficult to get here.

“Schools in North Yorkshire are full and if the youngsters can no longer get to St Aidans and St John Fishers it means there won’t be a school for them to go to.”

Both schools are now in talks with the bus providers to establish the timings of the routes and how much parents can expect to pay.

44 denomination primary schools in the county will also be affected by the withdrawal, however the change won’t come into effect for those until 2018.