This week the former chancellor Phillip Hammond; has unleashed plans to provide a transportation service for up to 15 miles for new pupils on free school meals, who attend a grammar school. This scheme would cost up to £5,000 a year per pupil, with extremely high costs, come cuts and as of last year disadvantaged/disabled pupils were deprived with a lower budget. The aim of this scheme is to eliminate the social barrier portrayed by selective education, hence why the government is willing to invest £5 million a year as funding into the transportation costs. Approximately 1,000 to 1,500 pupils are expected to benefit from this funding and transports costs in parliament are expected to rise to £20 million. Hammond commented on his reasons for suggesting this scheme; ““We recognize that for many parents the cost of travel can be a barrier to exercising that choice”. In order to enhance the support of his argument he mentioned, ““Pupils typically travel three times as far to attend selective schools, so we will extend free school transport to include all children on free school meals who attend a selective school because we are resolved that talent alone should determine the opportunities a child enjoys”. However, labour believe that Hammond has not taken into account that support for disadvantaged students provided to local councils has been slashed by £7 million a year. In fact an ombudsman reported a 63% of referrals were based on serious cases that involved in transportation to school, as 261 complaints were made, prior to the year before only being 160 complaints.
There have been many incidents of transportation inconveniences which have been shared publicly. One situation involved a mother whose middle daughter was the only one to receive transportation support from the local council and annoying funding for the other daughters were denied. Another situation consisted of a student with autism, losing his transport funding, resulting him having to walk dangerous and long distances just to travel to school. Angela Rayner, Labor's shadow education secretary out spoke that, ““The local school bus is now being replaced by the grammar school Uber. But when they are breaking their promise to protect school funding and heads are facing the worst cuts in a generation, it’s unbelievable that they think ‘cash for cabs’ is a good use of money”. Rayner also believes that many other pupils who are not disadvantaged are still faced with the same problem; “While we’re paying taxes for taxis, disabled teenagers are being left to fend for themselves and other kids are forced to change school for lack of transport”. “If this idea is the best that [education secretary] Justine Greening can come up with then she’s the one who should be getting a taxi for one”. Furthermore, a former spokesperson from ‘the department of education’ claimed, “Thousands of pupils on free school meals and other children from low income families will benefit from this new measure, removing the barrier that high transport costs can present. We will be working with selective schools and local authorities to provide this free transport, building on the service local authorities already provide to low income families attending other schools. Free school transport for pupils from low-income families has stayed in line with the numbers entitled to the service”. Overall this scheme seems fairly efficient but the fact cuts have been made from major sectors may be worrying to many low income and disadvantaged students.