The Guardian is reporting that ministers have quietly ditched plans to spend millions on taxis to ferry pupils to grammar schools at a cost of up to £5,000 a year per student, but the £5.5m funding put aside at last year’s budget will not be redistributed.
Labour has criticised the decision to return the cash pledged in the autumn budget to the scheme back to the Treasury coffers, rather than being used elsewhere in the education budget.
The government had said it would invest £5.5m a year to fund transport for the poorest pupils to reach grammar schools, so costs were not a barrier to a selective education.
In a ministerial answer to a question from the shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, the schools minister, Nick Gibb, said: “As the Department is not taking forward proposals to open new selective schools, we are not taking forward plans for free transport specifically for children who are eligible for free school meals who attend their nearest selective school.
“The £5.5m allocated to this fund was therefore not retained by the Department.”
Rayner said “Even as they tried to divert millions into their grammar school vanity project, disabled teenagers were left to fend for themselves and other kids are forced to change school for lack of transport,” she said. “It tells you everything you need to know about the Tories’ real priorities.”
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