Thursday, 14 March 2013

Is school transport being used to push for two tier?

I have some concerns about the plans of the West Tynedale Federation of First schools, backed by the County Council, to convert into a Primary schools.
My concern centres around the fact the County Council is presently refusing to provide school transport for children wishing to attend Haltwhistle Middle in Year 5, with effect from 2014. We hope to change this.
The County Council has confirmed it will however provide transport to Haydon Bridge Secondary School in year 7, despite the fact that this will not be the nearest school. It is unfair that most parents whose children attend Herdley Bank, one of the Federations School, and wish their children to move to Middle School in year 5, will not be provided with school transport by the County Council.

Herdley Bank is a great school, I have no problem with it extending it's age range. Similar concerns apply to Henshaw, and Greenhead. However, it seems clear the County Council is using its school transport infrastructure to push children away from going to a Middle School, in this case Haltwhistle Middle. That is totally wrong. If First Schools are going to become Primaries, then it is vital that the County Council ensures parents still have the choice, and means, to send their children to a local Middle School.

When parents are told their children will not be provided with a school bus to Haltwhistle Middle, but there will be one to Haydon Bridge Secondary School, which is further away, what other conclusion can they draw than that the County Council is pushing them into the Two Tier system? This should not be done by the back door. Parents must have a free choice.

I met a small group of concerned parents a fortnight ago, and I have called a public meeting with local County Councillor Ian Hutchinson to discuss the issue tonight (14th March) at 6.30pm at Halton Lea Gate Village Hall. All parents / locals are welcome.

Halty Councillor Ian Hutchinson has gone on the record to say: "We have called the public meeting because these issues need to be discussed out in the open. This is a very important issue for the local parents effected, but also has clear ramifications for our education system across Tynedale. There is no point in the County Council saying they are not pushing for Two-Tier if they make it almost impossible for parents to send their children to local Middle Schools. When Labour tried to close down all of our Middle Schools it was local parents that stopped them, and the County Council must listen to parents again."