Faith schools and free travel

Sir, Once again I feel the need to write in regarding free school passes for pupils of faith schools.

I am aware that all children attending faith schools are not in receipt of free travel passes, however I do not feel that all the information has been presented in previous letters.

RMBC's webpage on school travel, which outlines rules regarding who is and is not entitled to free travel passes, states: "Pupils attending non-catchment area schools as a parental choice will not qualify for a zero fare pass regardless of the distance involved."

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So it sounds very much to me that a pupil in Thorpe Hesley attending Wickersley Comprehensive WOULD in fact be required to pay their bus fares, unless their free bus pass was due to disability, low-income, or any of the other circumstances cited in the Transport Policy for Children and Young People (a copy of which is available on the RMBC website).

As education is a right and an entitlement to all British citizens, I have no objection to this, or see it as discrimination that these ‘categories’ of people are able to receive it. I uphold that the choice of religious parents to send their children to a religious school is their right. It is also a choice, made by parents.

Does this not qualify as a pupil “attending non-catchment area schools as a parental choice”? I would say that it does, very clearly – unless religion is also taken into consideration.

This consideration – and then special treatment of an entire subsection of policy (entitled ‘Pupils aged 5 to 16 attending Denominational Schools’ on the webpage) – is what I consider to be the discrimination against non-religious pupils and thus objected to in my last letter.

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I possibly would be surprised to find out how many children travel many miles to attend a school out of their’ catchment area, however if that is due to parental choice rather than any of the situations I have already mentioned, I assume that they will not receive a free bus pass, in line with the regulations stated on RMBC’s website.

I may also point out that many other local councils have already made the cuts proposed in Rotherham to faith school bus passes.

Cambridgeshire council officials also recognised that the bus passes were biased “in favour of Roman Catholic parents.” (BBC News Online, June 2010).

Carly Daniels, Marlowe Drive, East Herringthorpe.

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