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Petition to: Revoke the Proposed cessation of transport to denominational schools

This petition is now closed, as its deadline has passed.

We the undersigned petition Surrey County Council to Revoke the Proposed cessation of transport to denominational schools. More details

Petition update 2 from the council, 25 May 2011

The petition was presented to the Cabinet at its meeting on 24 May 2011 and the following response was agreed:

Thank you for submitting your petition to 'Revoke the Proposed cessation of transport to denominational schools'. I note that you stated three grounds for submitting the petition.

The first two grounds relate to the Home to School Travel and Transport Guidance, issued in 2007. This says that local authorities in fulfilling their duties and exercising their powers relating to travel, have a duty to have regard to 'amongst other things, any wish of a parent for their child to be provided with education or training at a particular school or institution on grounds of the parent’s religion or belief'. In relation to transport to faith schools it also says that ‘the Secretary of State hopes that local authorities will continue to think it right not to disturb well established arrangements’. However the local authority is not bound by legislation to provide travel support to faith schools other than that provided for under statutory provision for children attending secondary school whose families are on a low income. The Home to School Travel and Transport Guidance acknowledges this when in the same paragraph it says 'under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), parents do not enjoy any right to have their children educated at a faith or a secular school, or to have transport arrangements made by their local authority to and from any such school'. The same section of the guidance also says that 'Local authorities must make decisions that balance the provision of education with reasonable public expenditure'.

The third reason cited for opposing the proposal are on the grounds that it will impact families on the margins of financial eligibility as many children who travel to faith schools are from homes further away than those experienced by community schools. However, the proposal is to withdraw free transport to denominational schools from September 2012 for new applicants only. In this way, parents who are considering applying to a faith school that might be further away will be aware of the change of policy and will be able to take into account travel routes and costs when deciding on their preferences. Practicalities of getting children to school is something that many parents face and it is not an issue that is exclusive to faith schools. Whilst in the past children travelling to faith schools have received support, this proposal would ensure that all children would be treated equally and that children travelling to a faith school on faith grounds would not receive a benefit that was not available to other children.

Given that this level of support is not statutory, that other children do not benefit from this level of support and that the Council is having to identify savings it seems appropriate to propose that this level of support should cease for new students from September 2012. This phased approach seems the most reasonable as it allows those parents who have children already travelling on free transport to continue to receive it whilst allowing time for other families applying for September 2012 to consider the impact this might have on their preferences. However we are keen to support schools who would wish to introduce their own transport at full cost recovery, either through a subsidy or charging parents, so that they might minimise the impact on their admission intake.


Peter Martin
Cabinet Member for Children and Learning
24 May 2011

Petition update 1 from the council, 11 May 2011

In line with the Council's Petition Scheme, this petition will go to the next meeting of the Cabinet, which is on 24 May at 2pm. The process laid out in Standing Orders is as follows:
- a spokesperson for the petitioners may address the meeting on the petition for no more than 3 minutes
- the Cabinet Member whose portfolio includes the matter that is the subject of the petition may present a response to the petition. Alternatively, the petition may be referred without discussion to the next appropriate meeting.

The agenda for this Cabinet meeting will be published on the council's website on 16 May 2011.

More details from petition creator

Those who sign this petition oppose the Council's current proposal to stop transport to students who go to schools of a religious character. We oppose on grounds that: 1)In the Home to School Travel and Transport Guidance. (pages 27 – 30) set out the provisions relating to “Religion or belief”. Para. 119 refers to section 509AD of the Education Act 1996 which places a duty on local authorities in relation to the provision of travel to have regard to the wishes of a parent for their child to be provided with education or training at a particular school or institution on grounds of the parent’s religion or belief. 2) Para.131 states“…the Secretary of State hopes that local authorities will continue to think it right not to disturb well established arrangements, some of which have been associated with local agreements or understandings about the siting of such school.” The Council has a statutory responsibility to have regard to this document. 3)This will impact and affect families on the margins of financial eligibility. Many children to our schools come from homes considerably further than the local community schools.

Current signatories

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Because there are so many signatories, only the most recent 500 are shown on this page.

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  • Updated: 22 Oct 2017

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