Shock for parents as school scraps pupil coach service
PUBLISHED: 13:40 12 March 2008 | UPDATED: 13:01 06 May 2010
PARENTS have reacted angrily to the scrapping of contracted buses taking more than 200 pupils to a St Albans secondary school. Four designated coach services taking pupils to and from Marlborough School in Watling Street from London Colney, Watford, Boreh
PARENTS have reacted angrily to the scrapping of contracted buses taking more than 200 pupils to a St Albans secondary school.
Four designated coach services taking pupils to and from Marlborough School in Watling Street from London Colney, Watford, Borehamwood and Abbots Langley will stop running at the end of the summer term.
Meetings were held with 80 parents on Monday where the school said it could no longer afford to subsidise its coaches because the Government would be cutting its funding by three per cent over the next three years and it had to concentrate on education rather than transport.
Chairman of Governors Tony Field said afterward that some parents were very upset because the coach service offered their children a secure way of getting to school.
But he maintained that despite Marlborough putting up the prices of the coaches, it was still leaving a financial hole in the school's budget.
He said that the school had an annual contract with the coach company running the service which cost £160,000. Parents paid 85 per cent and the remainder was paid by the school. But many parents would use the buses for one term and then stop, leaving the school to pick up the rest of the bill.
Mr Field added: "The grant we receive from the Government will shrink by one per cent each year for the next three years. They are not picking on Marlborough, it is across the board. We have to realise that there is not going to be a pot of money for this - we have to make some tough decisions. The school is there for education, not transport services. It was right to stop the school sponsoring them."
Various alternatives were proposed at the meeting including parents paying for contract coaches but they would have to reach a decision by July when coach companies have to register their routes with the education authority.
Among the parents who were unhappy and concerned that their children might have to use public transport which was unsafe and overcrowded was Kim Burrows, aged 41, of Reed Close, London Colney, who sends her son Freddie, aged 13, on the coach to school everyday.
She recently paid £122 for a five-week coach pass and said parents living further away from the school had to pay more.
She does not drive and has to be at work at 7.30am so Freddie faces either a cycle ride along the busy A414 or a bus ride into the city centre and a half-hour walk to the school.
She said the coach took the children to and from school in a warm and safe environment and she would worry if he had to cycle or walk.
Kim added: "It seems a bit daft. If the kids are not in school to be educated what good is that? Parents who live further out were talking about putting their children in different schools.