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Free travel plan for Catholic students in Lichfield and Burntwood is approved

A plan to allow Catholic students in Lichfield and Burntwood to continue receiving free school transport has been approved by Staffordshire County Council.

The revised plan was drawn up after complaints from parents about an original proposal that would have seen the free bus travel scrapped.

Under the new scheme, children attending their current faith school will continue to have their transport subsidised, but new applicants will not be entitled to free travel. The proposals will lead to the phasing out of free discretionary denominational school transport by 2017.

Ian Parry, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Children and Young People said:

“The initial proposals provoked a robust debate among parents and schools, the two main themes being discrimination and fairness. It cannot be accepted that withdrawing free transport enjoyed almost exclusively by Catholic children is discriminatory, as it is a privilege enjoyed by no other groups.

“The county council has listened and responded; fairness is our primary concern. Children will therefore continue to receive the transport for as long as they remain at their current school, because that is what parents thought they would get when they started that school. Discretionary support will now be phased out by 2017. The most financially disadvantaged families will continue to receive support after 2017.”

County Councillor Parry added:

“We will continue to work with schools to ensure school transport plans are sustainable. We are also committed to supporting faith education. This process was always about fairness and not about faith.”

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