Parents enter stage two of appeals process after school bus place rejections

Cllr Ray Gooding, Cabinet Member for Education. Picture: Essex County Council

Cllr Ray Gooding, Cabinet Member for Education. Picture: Essex County Council - Credit: Essex County Council

A Barnston mum opened her front door to find the school minibus outside, waiting for a child who lives four doors away - but Essex County Council has ruled that some children, including her child, are not allowed to use it.

Her child said: “Yay mummy, my bus is here for me” only for her to reply, “sorry, no it’s not. But let’s follow it to your school.”

Four families who applied for a school bus place have been rejected. They are now entering stage two of the appeals process.

Parents are asked to select their preferred school, but Essex County Council makes the decision.

In 2015, the county council said that only new starters who had applied to their nearest school would receive free travel.

A new council contract with a different bus operator has meant the £600 per child per year transport fee for those who do not qualify for free travel is no longer an option.

Parents have pointed out it’s unsafe to walk from Barnston to Dunmow.

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One mum said: “They would not budge from their argument that St Mary’s is the closest albeit by just a mere 350 yards but that is by using the route through the town.

“The mini buses actually travel along the bypass as this is the most sensible route and in so doing Great Dunmow Primary School becomes the nearest.”

She added: “This is insane and almost comical. Except when it’s affecting a child it’s not funny at all.”

Parents have had support from various councillors and MP Kemi Badenoch.

Cllr Ray Gooding, Essex County Council’s cabinet member for education and skills, said: “The council is required to provide transport for eligible children who are entitled to receive transport based on the law and council policy. Transport is provided to the nearest available school subject to the policy criteria. If a child is attending the nearest available school and the walking route is unavailable, transport is provided.

“There will be some circumstances where one child in a family may be eligible, whilst another is not, depending upon the circumstances of the individual case. Although we are unable to comment on specific children here, the reasons for declining any application are explained to the individual parent. The law does not require transport to be provided on the basis of a sibling link.”