Refusal of school transport by Essex – call for evidence by the Department for Education

The Department for Education (DfE) are continuing to investigate Essex County Council’s school transport policy following a referral by R4U. The policy is to refuse free school transport unless going to the nearest school even when the nearest school is not the catchment school and a place will automatically be refused.

Unless the policy is brought into line with the government’s rules the refusals will apply to an ever larger number of students. The shortage of places means Saffron Walden County High are being forced to refuse places to siblings. The change is currently at consultation, but will mean that where the catchment area has previously been reduced younger siblings will have to go to another school. And the year group expansion at Joyce Frankland will mean more students will no longer be going to their nearest school.

The excuse from Essex is that students must apply to their nearest school regardless. However the SWCH website says

‘If you are keen for your child to gain a place at the school it is vital that you put SWCHS as your first preference on the application form.’

Although details of all refusals should be available to the DfE from Essex, the investigating official has requested R4U to coordinate evidence from parents in case Essex are slow to supply further information to her.

Please therefore will parents who believe they have been refused transport unreasonably please contact us using the link below:

ECC have sent a response to the DfE official but she appears not to be satisfied that the the DfE statutory guideline is being adhered to. It says that transport is to be provided to the nearest school which has places.