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School Transport

Volume 507: debated on Monday 8 March 2010

Does the Minister agree that if the 14-to-19 diploma programme is to work properly, efficient and effective school transport programmes must be in place to ensure that children who are going to schools further away from their home are accommodated? Has she seen the Select Committee on Transport’s report of March 2009, and what action is she going to take?

We think it very important indeed that parents and young people can exercise preferences about where they want to go to school or college and the courses they want to study. Additional money has been made available to local authorities to ensure that young people have that choice. The Under-Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, my hon. Friend the Member for Hartlepool (Mr. Wright), who is responsible for the diplomas, has said that further additional money is being made available, too.

If the Minister is not having any meetings with local authority representatives, what further action will she take, beyond existing guidance, to ensure safer travel on school transport, including, in particular, tackling bullying on school transport and providing adequate training for school bus drivers?

The hon. Lady will know about the travelling to school initiative and the £7.5 million that was made available to work with schools to allow them to draw up school transport plans for the whole school community, so that there can be safe and sustainable ways of getting to school. The issue of bullying will be addressed within that, as will the issue of training for people who are travelling on school buses.