First Minister Fails on School Transport

Further to the decision by Conwy County Borough Council to undertake a consultation on possible changes to post-16 educational transport, and the calls by Janet Finch-Saunders, Assembly Member for Aberconwy and Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Local Government, for the Welsh Government to help local authorities maintain free school transport for learners receiving full time post-16 education, she has expressed her serious disappointment at the First Minister’s response.

Janet said:

“The consultation on whether Conwy County Borough Council should continue to provide free post-16 educational transport has caused much concern amongst constituents.

“In response, I raised the matter Carwyn Jones AM, First Minister. Unlike the Council, his Welsh Government could make the provision of travel arrangements mandatory, and provide extra finance to every local authority across Wales so that they can meet the expense of such reasonable policy.

“Sadly, the First Minister has failed again, this time, on school transport.

“In response to my request that the Learner Travel (Wales) Measure 2008 be amended and funding be made available to help local authorities struggling to meet the cost of current school transport services, he has refused to commit to either – failing to directly answer my clear question.

“Going forward, it seems that no support will be coming from the Welsh Government in the short term.  More so, the consultation will go before the scrutiny committee on 25 September 2018, and then Cabinet on 9 October 2018.  Importantly, if any changes are agreed, they will be implemented in September 2020”.

ENDS

Written Assembly Question to Carwyn Jones AM, First Minister:

Will the First Minister state whether the Welsh Government would be prepared to amend the Learner Travel (Wales) Measure 2008 so that the provision of travel arrangements for learners in post-16 education becomes mandatory, and explain whether funding can be made available to help local authorities struggling to meet the cost of this current service?

Response by Carwyn Jones AM, First Minister:

The Learner Travel Measure (Wales) 2008 sets out the duties on local authorities regarding transport for learners including providing free transport based on age, distance and aptitude criteria for learners of statutory school age.  Local authorities are able to make additional discretionary transport arrangements for learners in their areas.

 

Responsibility for effective delivery of services rests with Local Authorities.  The pressures on budgets mean it is more important than ever that Local Authorities must consider how they can best use their resources and work with others to deliver longer term efficiencies so that they can continue to deliver services to their citizens.  

 

During the consultation and scrutiny stages for the Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Act 2018 concerns about learner transport for post 16 learners with Additional Learning Needs (ALN) were raised. In November 2017 Kirsty Williams, Cabinet Secretary for Education wrote to Lynne Neagle, AM, Chair of Children, Young People and Education Committee (CYPE Committee) and committed the Government to two specific actions.

 

  • Make revisions to the learner travel guidance and include within the ALN Code, an appropriate degree of guidance on transport (clarification on transport arrangements for learners with additional needs). Both the Code and the revisions made to the learner travel guidance in relation to ALN are to be subject to consultation,

 

  • A post-implementation review of the Act to check the operation of the transport elements of the new system to consider any issues and decide on any appropriate further action.

This work is now being taken forward.

In addition Since September 2015 all 16 to 18 year olds throughout Wales have been able to receive one-third fare discounts for all bus journeys, including those for educational purposes, under our MyTravelPass scheme.

Notes

AM defends free travel for learners in post-16 education

Aberconwy AM, Janet Finch-Saunders, calls for Welsh Government's help in keeping free educational buses in Conwy county

Post-16 Education Transport Consultation

Anger over plans to scrap free educational bus services in Conwy county

Learner Travel (Wales) Measure 2008

Free bus travel for young offered by Welsh Conservatives

Free bus travel for young people promise from Welsh Conservatives

TrawsCymru passenger numbers travelling in the right direction