Progress continues on school spare seats in Oxfordshire
Parents, schools, bus and coach providers, and Oxfordshire County Council have made ‘significant progress’ in finding solutions to the spare seats transport scheme to six local schools.
At its meeting of 23 May, Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet will hear about the plans in place to mitigate earlier proposed changes to the spare seats scheme, which would affect 235 pupils overall.
Because of the progress made, council officers are not recommending a moratorium on future spare seats planning, something that was discussed at the council’s People Scrutiny Committee on 30 March.
Solutions have been found for the 150 pupils affected at four schools:
- Wheatley Park School
- Wood Green, Witney
- Icknield School, Watlington
- King Alfred’s, Wantage.
Meanwhile work is continuing on finding transport options for the remaining 85 children at the other two schools:
- Warriner School, Bloxham
- Marlborough, Woodstock.
Wheatley Park School
From September 2023, Oxford Bus Company has confirmed it will operate a double decker bus as a standalone public service school bus.
The route will operate from Garsington, Cowley and Headington to Wheatley.
The new arrangements do not easily support transport requirements for children in the Baldon’s area, so the council is currently assessing its contracted transport to see if those pupils can be accommodated.
Wood Green, Witney
From September 2023, Pulham’s Coaches will increase capacity on Oxfordshire County Council’s contracted service bus 3-WG02. Pulham’s will sell the spare seats direct to parents per academic year.
Icknield School, Watlington
In readiness for September 2023, Oxford Bus Company has submitted a revised timetable for its number 11 public service bus. An additional morning and afternoon journey serving the school has been added into the timetable.
King Alfred’s, Wantage
From September 2023, Oxfordshire County Council will continue to offer spare seats across existing contracted services to the school by using spare capacity on other buses. The council will work with the school to find a longer-term solution from September 2024 as the school already contracts vehicles themselves.
Warriner School, Bloxham
Following a meeting with the school and parents in early May, Oxfordshire County Council is exploring various options, the preferred one involving a local bus operator providing a closed contract service direct to families.
Oxfordshire County Council has proposed several travel options to the school and parents, which were well received at a meeting in late April. The school is sending a survey to all parents, including those who currently make their own transport arrangements, and the council will analyse the survey results later this month.
Councillor Liz Brighouse, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Youth Services, said: “We are extremely grateful to the parents at all six schools, who have worked hard with us to make significant progress in providing spare seats’ solutions. The council is committed to working with parents, schools and bus companies to explore ongoing and practical options for spare seats on school transport. There’s more to do and we look forward to further progress. I thank parents for all their help and support.”
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