Parents in and around Hatton Park are hitting out against an ‘unequal’ rule change for free bus passes.
A number of parents living in the area have been told by Warwickshire County Council that they will need to pay around £800 for a year bus pass to send their child to secondary school.
Sarah Holland said: “In Hatton Park one half has Aylesford as their catchment school and the other has Henley-in-Arden school but it is known that you could apply for either and basically get in.
“We are in the Henley area but applied for Aylesford. We got our place but have been told to be eligible for a free bus pass that we have to put our child into Myton School, which is not a catchment school but is ‘nearest by vehicle’. We were never told the criteria had changed.
“I know some parents in Hatton Park in the same situation as us that have a free bus pass. After conversations with the council it seems it’s dependant on when they process your application and whether there are spaces at Myton or not as to whether you get a free bus pass.
"Parents are now faced with paying £795 for a bus pass, driving to school or moving school.”
Sheona Khan, living in Haseley, has the same problem. She said: “Our only catchment school is Henley. We have a daughter there and now they have changed the rules and I have to pay £800 a year for my other child to go to the same school my daughter goes to for free.
“We had a letter saying the only way we would get a free bus pass is if we chose Myton School.
"We worked out because we have a third child, when they are both at Henley, it will cost over £10,000 to send them for the time they are there. It feels like we are being penalised for living in a rural place.
“We have complained but the transport department are disregarding admissions’ rules about catchment areas. They say they held a consultation but parents, governors and schools don’t know about it. So who did they consult?
“If we had a letter before applying to schools it would helped because we could have made the decision where to send our kids. Now we’re having to pay for the privilege to sent our children to their catchment school.”
Warwickshire County Councillor John Holland said: “I have had a few parents get in touch about the bus passes. This will lead to more traffic coming through Warwick town centre, which would directly contravene the county council’s project to improve the town’s air quality.”
Henley and Aylesford Schools did not provide comments at time of publication.
A spokesperson from Warwickshire County Council said: "All applications are assessed in line with the Home to School Transport Policy.
"A change to the definition of the "nearest qualifying school" was consulted upon in 2017 before it was agreed in January 2018.
"This means that families with children aged 8-16 are eligible for free transport if they live more than three miles from the nearest qualifying school, with space available in the relevant year group.
"The outcome of every application is communicated by letter fully explaining the reason for the refusal, there is also a telephone number and email address provided so applicants can contact us should they need further information.
"We also provide details of the appeals process. Other eligibility criteria remain as set out in Council Policy, for example, Special Educational Needs Assessment and Review."