Council issues guide to post-16 transport options

Northumberland College
Northumberland College

Northumberland County Council has produced a guide today to explain what schools and transport companies are doing to support post-16 transport from September.

The authority has been working with schools and Northumberland College as well as the major bus companies to establish the best deal for students in post-16 education within the county.

Previously, the council was spending more than £3million per year on free transport, which equated to an extra £24 on the council-tax bill for every household in the county, on a policy that affected only one per cent of residents.

As reported in the Gazette this week, council leader Grant Davey has said that the previous scheme was ‘out of control’ in terms of the money being spent and that the changes will be good for education in Northumberland.

The transport offers and individual schools’ offers of support can be found on the council website.

Meanwhile, Northumberland College has launched a travel scheme which means all 16 to 18-year-olds who study at the college, living in Northumberland or Tyne and Wear and living more than three miles from their chosen place of study, will be entitled to free travel by public transport.

The college is making its own investment into the scheme and is working in partnership with the county council because around 40 per cent of the college’s students travel to college by public transport.

Maureen Charlton, head of student services at the college, said: “We have received a number of inquiries about travel support from concerned parents and we’re happy to be working in partnership with Northumberland County Council who will continue to fund travel for young people that receive free school meals and for second-year students aged 17 to 18.”

The college, which has a main campus in Ashington, a land-based campus at Kirkley Hall in Ponteland and centres in Berwick and Hexham, will provide an extended bus service between Berwick and its main sites to better cater for students in north Northumberland.

Maureen said: “This will maximise our opportunities to provide a comprehensive bus service to the students of Northumberland College.”

Coun Davey said: “This is excellent news for students, parents and the education system in the county. We have been working tirelessly with Northumberland College and other educational establishments across the county to help students ensure they still get the very best education following the change we have had to make to our post-16 transport policy”.

Maureen said: “We are continuing to take applications for the 2014/15 academic year that starts in September and all eligible students can apply for free travel passes for their journey to and from college.”