Parents battle plans to scrap free bus pass

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PLANS to scrap free bus passes for pupils travelling to Rotherham’s church schools are facing fierce opposition from parents.

Consultations on the Rotherham Council proposals end on Friday, January 20, with the changes due to come into force from September 2013.

Two of the school’s most affected will be Pope Pius X RC School in Wath and St Bernard’s RC High School in Herringthorpe.

Councillors argue the changes will bring the town into line with Barnsley and Doncaster and say too much is being spent on the current system.

But David Butler, St Bernard’s headteacher, said some of his pupils would face weekly travel bills of up to £10 a week.

“I’m greatly worried about the impact on young people and their families,” he said.

“These families are under pressure and to be faced with up to £10 a week to get children here, and some families may have more than one child. It’s going to be difficult.”

Mum Sue Kelly, from Dinnington, has sent all her seven children to the school and currently still has two studying there.

She said: “I think it’s tragic, particularly from a Catholic point of view as you choose a Catholic education for your children at primary level and you expect to be able to do that for secondary school too. For some families that choice will be taken away from them.”

Pupils eligible for free school meals will still qualify for the free passes.

Coun Gerald Smith said: “Rotherham has for many years provided support to children which is well above the council’s statutory requirements for school transport. We are looking again at what we can offer and how we can best target our support to families who need it most.”