Heads in Sheffield unite to attack plans to axe bus passes

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PLANS to abolish free bus travel for Sheffield’s Catholic pupils are being opposed by every secondary headteacher in the city.

A joint letter sent to the city council attacks the move as ‘discriminatory’, as the planned change of rules will affect All Saints and Notre Dame high schools only.

The heads’ move steps up pressure on council cabinet members who are meeting to make a decision on the issue tomorrow.

The campaign is also being strongly supported by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, MP for Sheffield Hallam.

Cabinet member for children, young people and families, Coun Jackie Drayton, blames ‘draconian’ Government spending cuts for the proposal, which will save the council £250,000 a year.

She pointed out that funding passes for Catholic pupils is discretionary and all such spending is under review.

But the headteachers argue the same rules should apply to All Saints and Notre Dame as all other secondaries, where free passes are issued to pupils living more than three miles away.

Secondary heads group chair Helen Storey said: “As some families will not be able to move from their local Catholic primary school to their feeder Catholic secondary due to financial restraints, this means they will be denied the right to education.”

The heads also say the long term impact of the change has not been considered.

Catholic families unable to afford the extra £200 in bus fares would be seeking places in local secondaries, many of which were already oversubscribed and were facing a population surge coming through from primaries.

Other families would opt to take their children to school by car, putting many more vehicles on city roads.

What do you think about the issue? Email: letters@thestar.co.uk