Major changes to North Yorkshire home to school transport approved

North Yorkshire County Council.
North Yorkshire County Council.

Home to school travel in North Yorkshire is set to undergo a major revamp, after the county council's executive voted in favour of a raft of changes aimed at cutting a £2.4m overspend from its transport bill

Home to school travel in North Yorkshire is set to undergo a major revamp, after the county council's executive voted in favour of a raft of changes aimed at cutting a £2.4m overspend from its transport bill

The decision, made this week, follows a 12-week public consultation on the proposals, which looked at bringing North Yorkshire County Council’s policy in line with Department for Education guidelines.

The local authority has a statutory responsibility to provide travel assistance between home and school for eligible children, but the proposals looked at reducing the funding the council provided above that

The actions include only providing mainstream school transport to children attending their catchment school or the nearest school to their home, rather than any school which is closer than the catchment school to their home.

Other proposals include ending the free arrangement for pupils whose families can demonstrate a 50/50 spilt in where the child lives during the school week, as statutory guidance “does not place any duty on local authorities to provide assistance to a second home address”.

The changes predominantly affect students in mainstream education aged between four and 16.

North Yorkshire is responsible for transporting about 20,000 pupils a day and as the largest rural county in England, a large portion of its education budget is spent on transporting children to and from school. In 2018/19 it spent £24.7m, more than a quarter of its £88m education budget.

County Councillor Patrick Mulligan, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Education and Skills, said: “These changes set out to make home to school transport fairer, more consistent and more efficient. To date, much of the home to school transport services we have offered are above the statutory minimum.

“We held an extensive consultation and have responded to what people told us. We want to protect transport from home to school for those who need it the most and for those who are entitled to it.”

Changes will not affect existing arrangements, until they reach a new admission point, from primary to secondary or from secondary to post-16 and beyond, or at the end of Year 3, when the statutory walking distance increases to three miles.