Parents fear rise in school bus fees

By Jonathan Kalmus, June 24, 2011

South Manchester Jewish parents face a £600 annual outlay for school bus services if a Trafford Council review results in cancelled funding for pupils who travel outside of the borough.

Funding is at risk for around 90 Altrincham children who attend North Cheshire Jewish Primary in nearby Stockport borough and 100 Manchester King David High pupils. Both schools use the £361 per pupil funding to lay on coaches, leaving parents to contribute a further £250 for bus attendants.

Funding currently covers all parents choosing to send their children to schools outside the borough - there are no Jewish schools in Trafford. The council says a cut would save £3.4 million, although funding would remain for low income families and special needs pupils.

However, North Cheshire Jewish Primary parent Jacqueline Cohen - who represented the school at a public consultation meeting on Tuesday - claims the true amount is "nowhere near £3 million, a figure which the council is looking to save over a number of years". As the total number of pupils receiving assistance was currently 1,180, the maximum annual potential saving would be £425,980 if funding was withdrawn in every case.

Mrs Cohen is developing a coalition with non-Jewish faith schools in Trafford who fear the proposed cut will hit their pupils the hardest.

Manchester Jewish Representative Council president Lucille Cohen also attended a consultation meeting this week. She warned the move "would have an enormously detrimental affect on pupils from throughout Greater Manchester attending faith schools and, from our point of view, threaten Jewish schools and their pupils".

Trafford's children and young people's service director, Deborah Brownlee, said: "Trafford's level of transport provided is well above the statutory requirements for mainstream pupils. Whilst this has provided a high level of service to local young people, in the current times of austerity the council has to ensure its money is targeted to support the most vulnerable groups of children."

Last updated: 11:16am, June 24 2011