Concern at impact of free buses

Concerns have been raised that free school transport could have a negative impact on schools.

Coun Robert Arckless, policy board member for children’s services, believes that removing students from their community could impact on the viability of the school.

Although post-16 transport does not fall specifically under his remit, the Labour councillor has an interest.

And although Coun Arckless believes students should not be punished with charges to get to school, he says schools should be supported.

He said: “I understand that in an ideal world, every young person would be able to go wherever they want, but this isn’t an ideal world.

“There has been a huge rise in costs and it’s not sustainable, but it isn’t just about the money; I worry about young people travelling to colleges out of their communities.

“If you take a substantial number out of the cohort of a high school, it has an impact on the viability of the sixth form. We need to help schools to develop new courses.

“Northumberland taxpayers are paying a substantial amount for transport. We are always going to have a bigger bill for getting kids from home to school, but the scale of what we are dealing with is enormous.

“The more money you spend on transport, the less there is to spend on other educational resources.”