Poor public transport puts rural schools out of reach

The BBC is reporting that three out of five young people in rural areas of England do not have adequate public transport to get to secondary school, according to research from Rural England.

The State of Rural Services report says lack of public transport is harming opportunities in education. There are also concerns about gaps in access to broadband in rural areas.

Most young people in these countryside areas cannot get to school in a “reasonable travel time” by public transport or walking, which means their choices depend on where they can be driven by their parents.

Local authority funding for buses in rural areas has fallen by 25% in the past four years, says the report, and about half of people in smaller villages do not have access to any public transport.

It is harder to get apprenticeships, there are few big employers to help with work experience and a lack of broadband can be a barrier to online learning and help with homework.

David Hughes, chief Executive of the Association of Colleges, said choices about education should be based on what was the best option and “not just making the decision based on the cheapest bus or train fare”.

Kirstie Donnelly, managing director of City & Guilds, said the study raised “significant concerns” about access to education outside of towns and cities.

“It’s crucial that policymakers consider how they can help people overcome them, rather than creating new barriers.”

More at: Poor public transport puts rural schools out of reach

Do you live in a rural area? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter. ~ Sophie

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  1. LAs have a legal duty to ‘provide free transport for all pupils of compulsory school age (5-16) if their
    nearest suitable school is:
    • beyond 2 miles (if below the age of 8); or
    • beyond 3 miles (if aged between 8 and 16)’ https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/575323/Home_to_school_travel_and_transport_guidance.pdf
    This is very expensive but necessary for rural counties.  This duty can, however, be made even more expensive if academies set opening times which don’t co-ordinate with other schools.  And who pays for transport between academies in the same MAT when pupils are expected to commute between academies for various activities?
    Note, however, that the legal duty ends at 16.  This results in real problems for students post-16 who live in isolated areas.

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