U-turn on travel expenses for out-of-Powys study

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School bus in Wales
Image caption,
An estimated one-third of Powys sixth-formers travel outside the county to study every day

A plan to stop paying travel expenses for Powys teenagers who study outside the county is set to be dropped.

The county council was hoping the move would save £75,000 of the £10m it spends each year on school transport.

However, in response to a consultation many objected, pointing to limited choices for local post-16 learners.

The council has lost funding because an estimated 500 youngsters - a third of sixth-formers - study over the border in Hereford, Shrewsbury and elsewhere.

A report by a senior officer for councillors to consider on Monday, advises the plan not to reimburse travel expenses "is not taken forward at this time".

It said: "Responses to the consultation indicated that there would be negative impact on learners if this was implemented due to the perception that the current provision of post-16 provision in Powys is sub-standard."

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
One councillor claimed youngsters were attracted by the "bright lights" and coffee bars of city life

Comments from more than 300 people who responded included the claim that "choices about education are extremely limited within the county".

Another said: "If you wish 16-19 year olds to study in Powys you should provide a full range of subjects for them, without them having to spend half a day on the road travelling between sixth-form facilities."

The largely rural county saw its Welsh Government funding for sixth-form education cut from £6.5m in 2013/14 to £4.4m in 2018/19 due to falling numbers studying within the county, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Councillors have also warned of a "brain drain" of youngsters seeking the "bright lights" of city life.

To combat this, a re-jig of sixth forms in Powys is expected to take place by 2030.

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