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'Calls grow for free bus pass school plans'

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From the Lowestoft Journal:

Education chiefs in Suffolk were coming under increasing pressure this week to provide free bus passes to students in rural communities facing a yearly transport bill of £540 to stay in further education.

Hundreds of parents have signed a petition calling on Suffolk County Council to offer free home-to-school transport to students aged over 16.

It follows a change in the law last year stating all young people must stay in some form of education or training until they are 17. It increases to 18 next year.

They can stay in full-time education, such as a sixth form or college, sign up to apprenticeships or take up part-time education or training if they are employed, self-employed or volunteering full-time.

Sonia Barker, spokesman for education and skills at the Suffolk County Council Labour Group, said: 

“All young people whether at school, at college, in apprenticeships or in other training programmes, should be given every opportunity and encouragement to continue their studies until they are complete.

“It is a false economy to have young people failing to achieve their full potential just because they can’t afford the bus fare.

“Young people, whether in rural, coastal or urban areas of Suffolk, have enough barriers to their future career prospects without an extra burden of £540.”

The petition reads:

Provide bus travel for 16 year olds to get to school. It is not fair to punish children and families for living in rural communities. The sixth forms are all in town so free for town children and yet rural families must pay to send their children to compulsory education. Suffolk schools will be 'islands' unreachable by your expensive and badly managed transport system which fails to provide a free and timely service to school yet offers unlimited travel to all over 65 year olds regardless of their financial wealth. Make your schools as accessible to country children as they are to their town peers. 

To add your name visit: http://www.change.org/p/suffolk-county-council-provide-bus-travel-for-16-year-olds-to-get-to-school

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