Sheffield Catholic school bus passes face axe under cost-saving plans

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Free travel for Catholic school pupils is set to be axed as part of Sheffield City Council's plans to save £50m.

Council officers have recommended the city's cabinet approve plans to rescind discretionary bus passes.

More than 1,000 pupils enjoy free travel as they live either two miles from a suitable primary or three miles from a suitable secondary school.

The council says the proposed cuts will save up to £300,000 a year, but teachers have criticised the plans.

Under the recommendation passes would be withdrawn from all pupils except those in years 10 and 11 from September and all bar those in year 11 from September 2014 in order not to affect those studying for exams.

'Unprecedented cuts'

Passes were first issued to pupils attending Catholic schools in the 1980s after the number of denominational schools dropped from five to two. There are no other faith schools in the city.

Jayne Ludlam, the executive director for children, young people and families, said the proposal was the result of "unprecedented government cutbacks".

She said the review of funding had sought to balance essential cuts with the council's responsibilities to maintain vital services for the most disadvantaged.

Cabinet members will be asked to agree the proposal on 19 June.

John Martin, outgoing head of Notre Dame High School, in Fulwood Road, accused the council of double standards, saying they paid hundreds of thousands of pounds bussing non-Catholic pupils to school.

He said: "There's a statutory requirement to provide free transport to the nearest qualifying school but the way the authority interpret that is that the nearest qualifying school is the school they have decided a child should go to.

"So they, in fact, pay over twice that amount of money to bus children from where they live to what they call their catchment area school, so they are applying two sets of standards."

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