Parents’ anger over decision to axe long-running school bus service in Derbyshire amid major Government shakeup
Parents in a Derbyshire village have expressed their anger over a decision to terminate a school bus service which has been running for over 50 years following changes to school start and finish times.
Pupils at Town End Junior School in Tibshelf will be expected to start at 8.45am, five minutes earlier than the current start time, and finish at 3.15pm when returning to school this September.
The changes, which were announced by school leaders last month, were made in light of the Government’s Schools White Paper which called on all schools across England to offer a minimum 32.5-hour school week from September 2023 as part of a package of reforms aimed at raising standards.
However, many parents have been left angered by the situation as children who usually catch the after-school bus will no longer be allowed to leave five minutes early – a measure previously implemented by the school due to health and safety reasons.
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More than 50 people have since signed a letter to the Headteacher and Chair of Governors outlining their concerns, raising issues over traffic and parking outside school, as well as the impact on children at Tibshelf Infant School as many parents have children at both schools.
Joanna Holland, whose five-year-old son attends Tibshelf Infant School and daughter, seven, attends Town End Juniors, is among the group of frustrated parents.
She said: “There were no discussions with any parents, this just got dropped in a newsletter. There’s 15 minutes between the new start and finish times at the infant and junior school, with the infants starting at 8.30am and finishing at 3pm.
"You’ve got 15 minutes to pick your children up from the infant school and, for the parents that don’t drive, they’ve got to walk to the junior school which, according to Google Maps, is an 18-minute walk.
"It’s just frustrating. It’s like they’ve tried to work it out on a piece of paper but they've not actually took into account the practicalities of it all and how it’s going to work for the parents.”
The bus service has been operating through Tibshelf for over 50 years, serving both Tibshelf Community School and Town End Junior School.
It is believed that around 50 pupils at Town End Juniors currently catch the school bus – approximately 30 per cent of the entire cohort.
Under changes, these children will have to find an alternative way of getting home as the bus company is unable to provide the service five minutes later due to its commitment with the high school for which it is funded.
Joanna added: “There’s no parking facilities at the junior school – it’s already packed full of cars and the residents complain on the streets near there, so it’s not just us it will affect.
"It’s being pushed back on us to find an alternative arrangement ourselves and pay out our own pockets. We have contacted other bus companies, but they cannot operate our route.
"One company said they could but it would be £145 for the route, which equates to £2.90 per child instead of the 50p it costs now to get home and if not all 50 children catch the bus it would not be viable.
"Some of these children have special educational need and disabilities; the expectation that those children can walk home, some who cannot physically do so due to their disabilities, is unconceivable and unacceptable.”
Zoe Andrews, executive headteacher of both Tibshelf Infant School and Town End Junior School, said: “After a lot of work over the past weeks I can confirm that the bus will continue to operate as per the schedule currently in place.
“I can also confirm that in September the time the school finishes remains as it has always been, 3.15pm.”