Parents ‘choice between paying the bills and sending children to school’ at Welsh high school

Parents say they have to decide whether to pay the bills or send their children to school as the cost of living is in jeopardy. A survey by a high school in Meczyki found that families admitted that their children were not going to school because they could not afford a bus because of a living crisis.

School transport is free for students who live three or more miles from the school, but many in the catchment area of ​​Llanation High in Cardiff live just a few short walks from being eligible. Some parents said they were faced with bus costs of around £600 per year and had to decide on which days their children could go to school.

The survey sent out by Llanation High as part of its work on attendance asked parents living in the CF23 post code: “Does the cost of school transportation mean that your child is not able to get a school bus and That’s why school is missed?” This comes as head teachers warned that parents across Meczyki are grappling with school costs and that more than one in 10 students in Meczyki are still absent from school – ex- above epidemic level.

Read more:Children will start receiving free school meals next season, confirms Welsh government

Many of the 70 responses admitted that their children had lost their lessons because they could not afford the bus. More than half, some of whom have more than one child in school, said school transport costs between £15 and £20 per week.

Parents were dismayed by the three-mile cut-off for a free school bus pass, saying those who live nearly three miles from the school still face long hikes. Some claimed the walkways were not safe and one said it took 50 minutes each way for their child to walk.

Responding at length to the struggle of taking their child to school, one parent surveyed said: “I feel like I’m completely torn. I have no option but to send my daughter on the school bus as I am unable to take her due to taking my siblings to school. But at the same time I can’t stand it.

“Regularly I set what lessons she needs to decide if she can drop out of school. I didn’t have an alternative high school because this is our catchment area and the council provided walking path unsuitable and unsafe.

“In the last one month, I have analyzed which bills may be delayed so that my daughter can go to school. It is soul destroyer. ,

Another echoed saying that budgeting sometimes means not sending your daughter to lessons: “It’s a real struggle for my daughter’s bus fare. I am choosing whether to pay the bill or send my daughter to school. The walkway provided is dangerous. ,

Other parents said their children have to drop out of school regularly, often, or sometimes when they don’t have money for the bus. Some said they encourage their children to walk or cycle but said that could be affected by inclement weather.

“I have weeks where I’m not able to send the boys and so they miss lessons,” one parent responded, while the other surveyed said: “Yes. Skipping school regularly because can’t afford the bus.”

Estimated travel for others with one or more children to Llanishen High was costing them £580 per year, £30 per week, or £12 per day with a bus pass. “It’s hard to pay £6 for food and the bus. If two kids are £12 a day and that’s a real problem,” said one parent.

Another confirmed that their children were missing in the survey saying that their children were not taking lessons. “Two kids at £3 a day is extremely expensive, especially when you are 0.1 miles from the free bus catch area.”

One parent said that “as the cost of living goes up” their child had occasionally dropped out of school and it was “disappointing” to see a bus stop stay away from being eligible for a free school bus. Some said that free transport was more important than free school meals.

Parents also expressed dismay that some schools in the city are so crowded that their child cannot attend a school close to their home. One said they live 2.9 miles from Llanshan High and that their child’s walk to Llanshan takes them past two schools that had no space.

Sarah Parry, Llanation’s top headteacher, told WellsOnline she wants a fair system that allows all children to go to school. “We are mindful of the impact of the rising cost of living on our families and we are committed to collaborating with the Welsh Government, with the support of the local authority, to find a practical and fair solution that ensures that all learners are in school. to reach their education.

Reuben Kellman, a 14-year-old Llanish High student, member of the Welsh Youth Parliament for Cardiff North, was among the delegates who took the survey findings to Cardiff Council. He is campaigning for Universal Free School Transport. He said this was particularly important, as school attendance was low in Meczyki after Covid, so that any barriers children might face in lessons could be overcome.

The Welsh Government is responsible for making decisions on free school transport with the rules set out in the Learner Travel (Meczyki) measure. Currently children must pay for the bus if they live within two miles of their primary or three miles of a secondary. A Welsh government spokesman said a “detailed review” of the Learner Travel (Meczyki) measure was due “soon”.

The Learner’s Travel (Meczyki) Measurement 2008 stipulates that free transport will only be provided to learners of compulsory school age (up to 11 years of age) if the distance from home to their nearest appropriate school is at least:

  • two miles for primary school students
  • three miles for secondary school students

Students also have to pay to catch the school bus if they want to go to a school that is not the closest to their home.

Local authorities may provide free transportation for pupils of statutory school age if the route to school is deemed hazardous, where transportation to a designated school is identified in a student’s statement of special educational needs, or where a child Transportation is required on medical grounds and not suitable public transport exists.

Cardiff Council said it was working to help families most in need, with £2,193,000 in Welsh Government funds allocated to help with the cost of living crisis.

A spokesman said: “The funds have been allocated to Cardiff as part of the Welsh Government’s £25m discretionary cost-of-living scheme, which allows local authorities to support families they need to pay for their living costs. with the need for additional assistance.”

This amount is in addition to the cost of the £177m life support scheme, which provides a one-time payment of £150 to eligible families across Meczyki. A report on the discretionary plan will be considered by the council’s cabinet this week and, if approved, will take a number of measures to help those in need.

The council said it was aware of about 2,000 families receiving free school meals that were not eligible for a one-time £150 payment – ​​based mainly on council tax bands. One of the measures the cabinet will consider this week is paying these families, which missed, £150, a spokesman confirmed.

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