Stoke-on-Trent school set to scrap its minibus service


A school is planning to scrap its minibus service for pupils so it can use the money for catch-up support in the classroom.

Staff from Burnwood Community School, in Chell Heath, previously picked up youngsters in the vehicle in the mornings and also supervised walking buses.

Those who benefited included children who were struggling to get to lessons on time. But the travel assistance – which was used by around 55 pupils a day – had to be suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Now the school has launched a consultation on axing the walking and minibus service altogether from February 2021.

Nine staff who act as ‘coach guides’ would be affected, although each of them is only contracted to do the work for an hour a day. As they already have other roles within school, the hope is there will be no redundancies.

Grahame Colclough, business and operations leader at Burnwood, today moved to reassure parents it wasn’t a cost-cutting exercise.

The travel assistance is funded through the pupil premium, which is the Government grant allocated to schools for every disadvantaged child they have on roll.

Mr Colclough said: “It’s about using the money more effectively for the support that is needed right now.

“We are reviewing our Covid strategy at the moment and are looking at catch-up for children.”

He would not confirm how much money is usually spent on the minibus and walking bus duties. But the pupil premium is currently worth £1,320 per primary pupil.

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The school has been unable to pick up pupils in the mornings because it would involve mixing class bubbles as they travel on the minibus.

“As there is no end in sight at the moment, we can’t run the service,” added Mr Colclough. But he said it could be resurrected at some point in the future if there was a need.

The consultation document says that overall pupil attendance at school is now above the national average, even without the travel support.

Burnwood has been looking at how affected staff can be redeployed to cover the extra hour during the day. Opportunities could include increasing lunchtime supervision.





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