Mother's torment over school transport
A mother of two girls at Hertsmere Jewish Primary has been advised by Hertfordshire County Council to consider moving them to a non-Jewish school after the council's free transport scheme is scrapped at the end of the academic year.
Last autumn, the council announced plans to cut free or concessionary transport to Jewish and other faith schools. Among the schools affected is Hertsmere, where more than 200 of the 480 pupils use the service.
Although many families can make alternative arrangements, it is more difficult for Linda Trup, a full-time carer for her disabled husband. She is concerned she will not be able to afford any of the options to transport her daughters Romi and Yana from their Bushey home to the Radlett school, which is not on a public bus route.
HJPS governor Daren Nathan said the school was "acutely aware" of the difficulties posed by the council's decision.
A private coach service proposed by the school had not attracted sufficient demand. But, in any case, Mrs Trup could not afford the projected £942 annual cost per pupil. Nor could she afford the petrol costs for driving her girls to and from school. Mrs Trup contacted the council in November to find a way forward. The response took a month.
Since then, she has had phone conversations and email correspondence with council staff, but is no closer to a solution. She said that, in one conversation, she was told there were plenty of non-faith schools within walking distance of her home.
"I am appalled at this suggestion," Mrs Trup said. "The school round the corner is horrendous but, anyway, I want my children to have a Jewish education. The kids are happy at HJPS and are doing well. It would be really devastating to take them out. Every day is a struggle for me and I am so worried about this affecting their education."
A council spokeswoman explained that parents were being encouraged to explore options, including car-sharing.
"Only as a last resort would we advise a family to consider moving their child to an alternative, closer school. If a family believes they have exceptional and extenuating circumstances, they can ask for the county council to consider this under the exceptions policy [for funding aid]."
Mr Nathan said governors had made it clear to the council that HJPS was located in a rural area without safe walking or cycling access.
"Sadly, our requests for a councillor to visit the school have not yet received a response. We have tried to reassure parents that the governors are doing all they can in these difficult circumstances."