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Suffolk headteacher adds his voice to worries about school transport

PUBLISHED: 13:39 17 December 2017 | UPDATED: 13:39 17 December 2017

Jim McAtear, executive head at Hartismere. Picture: ARCHANT

Jim McAtear, executive head at Hartismere. Picture: ARCHANT

Archant

Another Suffolk headteacher has entered the debate about the future of school transport in the county by writing an open letter to cabinet member Gordon Jones.

Suffolk County Council cabinet member Gordon Jones. Picture: ARCHANT Suffolk County Council cabinet member Gordon Jones. Picture: ARCHANT

Jim McAtear, executive headmaster of the Hartismere Family of Schools based in Eye, has written to Mr Jones who is cabinet member for education at Suffolk County Council.

He says: “I am writing to you about your Council’s proposal to remove free school transport from the families of over 200 of our children.

“It is clear from your proposal that those families who have the necessary funds and who are not dependant on school buses will be able to choose which school their child attends.

“It is therefore equally clear that those who do not have the necessary funds and who are therefore dependant on free school transport will not be able to make a choice about the school their child attends.

“It seems abundantly clear that your proposal intends to remove free school transport leaving the richest families with choices which are no longer available to poorer families.

“Your intention to favour those who have and ignore the aspirations of those who have less is utterly shameless. I call upon you to recognise how entirely wrong these proposals are.

“Cuts should not be designed in such a way that they hurt the children of the poorest members of our society,

“I therefore expect that you not only remove the proposal but that you apologise to the people of Suffolk for your attempt to make it in the first place.”

Mr Jones said he was surprised to receive the letter – he had met Mr McAtear last month and had not heard any of these concerns at that point.

The county council is currently consulting people about the changes to school transport funding which could be introduced in 2019.

Mr Jones said last week that he hoped people would approach the consultation process with an open mind.

He said: “This is only the beginning and I’m calling for unity. I’m saying ‘let’s use this consultation to look at all the issues, discuss them and find sensible solutions together.’

“This is a very serious and challenging issue to tackle, which we must in order to be able to afford to run the service in the future.”

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