Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Free Christ the King College travel to be debated

Plans to end free travel for students at the Isle of Wight's only secondary faith school will be debated later.

Pupils travel from across the island to Christ the King School in Newport.

Some families are upset at the plans, which limit free travel to low-income families and pupils who live more than three miles from both the school and their catchment area secondary school.

A consultation to end the blanket subsidy runs until 4 July and a meeting will be held at the school at 1815 BST.

Currently when families choose a school for their child which is not their nearest school they have to pay for their own transport unless it is a faith school on religious grounds, in which case the transport cost is covered by the council.

'Make life difficult'

Because of the "increasing cost of transport and continuing financial pressures" on its services, the Conservative-led council said it now wanted to cut the subsidy.

The plans are also designed to ensure all pupils are treated equally in schools across the island, regardless of religion, the council said.

The move has been criticised by the Catholic Bishop of Portsmouth, who has written a letter to the leader of the Isle of Wight Council, David Pugh.

The Right Reverend Crispian Hollis said removing transport subsidies would "make life very difficult and may result in families deciding that they cannot afford to send their children to the faith school of their choice".

Mr Pugh said it was not fair that some pupils received free transport decided on the basis of their religion.

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