North Yorkshire’s home-to-school travel to be discussed

A public consultation around providing home to school travel will be discussed by North Yorkshire councillors next week.

The public’s views which were sought in a consultation about providing home to school travel in North Yorkshire will be discussed by councillors next week.

Our executive will meet on Tuesday (16 July) to consider the results of the consultation which was carried out earlier this year.

The consultation ran from 19 February to 26 April to seek people’s views and provide an opportunity to update the policy which included a review of six “discretionary elements” of the current system.

By retaining, amending and removing a few discretionary elements of the current policy, the revised proposals are due to take a more standard approach that is closely aligned to national legislation.

Considering the public’s feedback, combined with the difficult financial projection made for travel costs in the future, councillors will discuss a report from officers, with a final decision due to be made at the full council meeting on Wednesday 24 July.

Our executive member for education, learning and skills, Cllr Annabel Wilkinson, said: “We will take on board the feedback from the consultation and we thank everyone for taking part.

“We understand the reservations around transporting children and young people to schools, and concerns about costs from parents and carers who may have children attending different schools.”

The overall cost to the council of the provision of home to school travel is significant and rising at pace. 

Providing home to school travel is the third largest item of revenue expenditure for the council after adult social care and waste management. We are lobbying the new Government for more funding.

Our assistant director for education and skills, Amanda Newbold, added: “We would like to reassure parents and carers that no-one will lose what they currently have in terms of home to school travel provision unless their personal circumstances change requiring reconsideration of whether they are eligible.

“The review of the home to school travel policy does not directly affect where children go to school – that is still the choice of the parent or carer. 

"Councillors are looking at the overall eligibility to access travel assistance to a child's nearest school and how that can be delivered in a fair and economical way.”  

Officers are currently working on a digital tool to help parents and carers find out what their nearest school is.

The digital tool will also help parents and carers make an informed decision when they are looking to apply for school places. The online tool will help them understand more about their travel options.

We are also reminding parents and carers that the home to school travel policy is separate to the schools' admission process. 

It is vital for parents and carers to consider both processes before making a choice about where to apply and to ensure they make use of up to five options.

When applying for schools, parents and carers are free to name any school they wish during the admissions process, but their child may only be eligible for free travel where the school selected is their nearest suitable school.

If parents and carers are given a place for their first choice of school, this does not mean, however, that travel assistance will automatically be awarded.

Equally, parents who receive an offer of a place at a second or subsequent choice may be eligible for access travel assistance if this is the nearest school with places available.

Councillors will also consider whether to add a discretionary element to ensure that low-income families have extended eligibility to travel assistance.