Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Review of Isle of Wight school transport extended

A review of school bus services on the Isle of Wight is being extended to cover all home-school transport.

The Conservative-run council had only been planning to remove discretionary free travel for over-16s and those attending faith schools.

However, the new policy reduces the subsidised rate for all other over-16s who will now pay £50 instead of £27.50 per-term.

The council said it will help it make savings of up to £900,000 a year.

Originally, the review focused on transport subsidies for pupils of faith schools, which were more than those offered to pupils attending other schools.

'Make life difficult'

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

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

Under the original plans, only pupils who live more than three miles from both Christ the King School and their catchment area secondary school and those from low-income families who are entitled to it by law, would keep the subsidy.

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

The move was criticised by the Catholic Bishop of Portsmouth, The Right Reverend Crispian Hollis, who 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".

The wider school transport policy is set to be opened to public consultation in September and October, with a final decision due in December.

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