Free School Transport: Stour Valley, Samuel Ward and Sudbury Upper Briefing

The opening of Stour Valley Community School on the site of the former Clare Middle School last year began the whole Suffolk Free School debacle. Tonight there is a consultation meeting at Stour Valley School from 7pm to 9pm about home to school transport.

You may want to read my post Free School, Free travel for an explanation of the current situation with home to school transport but in a nutshell practically anyone who wanted to go has ended up with free transport, a situation even the County Council’s consultation document recognises as unfair.

So here is the map of the proposal:

StourvalleyThe main points are:
When Samuel Ward converted to an academy the county council adopted the catchment area that was in use at the time for transport purposes. Stour Valley Community School is an additional school to the previous pattern of secondary schools in this area and does not have a catchment area. However, the law requires that academies (including free schools) are treated the same when it comes to transport.
As an interim measure the county council has agreed to make free transport available to Stour Valley Community School for students who live in either the Samuel Ward or Sudbury Upper catchment areas, for the current school year (2011/12) and also for next year (2012/13). This transport solution is not sustainable in the longer term.
There are two reasons for this:
• It could be argued that this solution is not equitable for the three schools involved and it is our intention to develop a consistent approach to home-to-school transport in Suffolk that would be sustainable in the longer term and that meets the requirements of the law.
• As there will be duplication of transport across this area it is also not the most costeffective way of providing transport. 
It is proposed to create new transport priority areas from the existing two catchment areas by dividing them into three, using nearest school as the means of determining these areas (see map)
You can download the full consultation document from Suffolk County Council’s website.

Consultation Meetings Remaining (7-9pm):
Stour Valley Community School: Tuesday 8 May
Breckland Middle School: Thursday 10 May
Mildenhall College of Technology: Monday 14 May
Samuel Ward Academy: Tuesday 15 May 
Beccles Middle School: Monday 21 May
Sudbury Upper School: Tuesday 22 May
Sudbury Upper School 5566783159723906157

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