NEW rules on applying for school transport will come into force next academic year following cabinet approval.
A number of policy changes on allocating bus seats for pupils outside a school catchment area or within the statutory walking limit were brought to Pembrokeshire County Council’s cabinet on Monday (September 5).
Concessionary spaces on free school buses can be allocated if there are any spare after transport is provided to eligible pupils – those living in their school catchment area but two or more miles from their primary school or three or more miles from their secondary school.
A report to cabinet states that there are issues with the current system of allocating spaces relating to when they can be applied for or by, inequity of spaces available, issuing passes for schools with sixth forms and when concessionary passes are revoked.
It adds that the numbers applying for concessionary passes and those living outside their school’s catchment area are increasing with 258 issued in 2021/22 compared to 236 in 2019/20.
Of those 74 lived under the waling distance and 184 lived out of catchment area, compared to 90 and 146 respectively in 2019.
Cabinet approved policy changes including adding extreme and persistent bullying as a reason for transport and introducing when concessionary applications can be made, with a deadline of the third Friday in August.
Applications will be prioritised to those in catchment but under statutory walking distance and other cases considered in light of continuity of learning, with a final decision made by the relevant cabinet member.
The changes will come into effect from the start of the 23-24 academic year and a further review of school transport policy will be necessary to meet obligations set out in the council’s Welsh in education strategic plan, due to be undertaken in the next 12 months.