Thurston Community College headteacher reveals plan to save council money, without cutting transport

Pupils from Thurston Community College are pleading with Suffolk County Councillors to help them kee

Pupils from Thurston Community College are pleading with Suffolk County Councillors to help them keep their free school transport. Picture: GREGG BROWN

A Suffolk headteacher used her platform at a packed public meeting to put forward alternative solutions to the county council’s proposals for school transport.

Pupils from Thurston Community College are pleading with Suffolk County Councillors to help them kee

Pupils from Thurston Community College are pleading with Suffolk County Councillors to help them keep their free school transport. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Helen Wilson, from Thurston Community College, took to the stage as almost 200 people – including students, parish councillors, governors and parents – all had their say about the scheme.

Council chiefs say their proposal to remove free school transport to children living within three miles of a catchment school – providing a bus only to the nearest school – could potentially save them £3million.

However, the figure has been disputed by teachers – and even some Tory councillors.

Addressing the large crowd at the meeting on Thursday, Mrs Wilson said: “We have seen the council’s own infamous flow diagram and it concludes with a projected saving of £200,000 across the whole of Suffolk, if the ‘nearest school only’ policy is introduced.

Pupils from Thurston Community College are pleading with Suffolk County Councillors to help them kee

Pupils from Thurston Community College are pleading with Suffolk County Councillors to help them keep their free school transport. Picture: GREGG BROWN


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“Now we understand that the council has to run a balanced budget, and we understand that savings have to be made.

“But just by looking at the way our school buses work here in Thurston, staff here, working with the transport team, have been able to come up with a solution to run the bus routes more effectively.

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She added: “We estimate that if the council were to put our plans in place, it would save them £235,000.

“That’s more than they are even expecting to save and we are only one school. If some time was spent with all schools and all school transport routes were reordered to work to maximum efficiency, then just imagine how much money could be saved.

Headteacher Helen Wilson speaks before a packed auditorium. Picture: KATIE MERCER

Headteacher Helen Wilson speaks before a packed auditorium. Picture: KATIE MERCER - Credit: Archant

“This is a practical solution that means nobody’s education would have to be disrupted and no schools would lose out.”

Gordon Jones, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for children’s services, education and skills, said the proposals will be carefully considered by the cabinet in June.

He added: “We have already received a significant amount of feedback to the consultation, including a number of alternative suggestions for solutions to providing affordable home to school transport.

“This is greatly welcomed and will be carefully and thoroughly considered by cabinet in June.”

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