Countdown to post-16 charges

With GCSE results out today, students starting post-16 education next month may need to apply for transport under the county council’s new scheme.

In general terms, students already in post-16 education will continue as they did last year, but new Year 12 students will have to pay public-transport costs or £600.

However, for the 2014/15 academic year, schools and colleges are subsidising the costs and providing additional support for their students.

James Calvert Spence College in Amble is planning to pay for transport for those students that need it.

At the Duchess’s Community High School in Alnwick and King Edward VI School in Morpeth, the first £170 will be subsidised where students have to pay the £600 for council-contracted school bus services, meaning it will cost the student £430.

Northumberland College is providing a free Berwick to Ashington bus service for students, while Arriva is introducing a new range of travel tickets for students in post-16 education. The costs will range from £430 for a one-zone pass to £660 for a three-zone-plus pass, which will cover Northumberland, Newcastle and North Tyneside.

Rachel Turnbull, manager of the Northumberland Advice Network said: “We want to make sure that people are aware of what benefits they can claim.

“We also want to make sure that people know that even if they do not take up their entitlements to free school meals, they can still access free post-16 transport.”

Currently, up to 20 per cent of children in Northumberland who are eligible for free school meals do not claim them.

In order to qualify for free school meals and therefore for free post-16 transport, someone in the household must claim at least one of the following: Income support, Income-based Job-Seekers Allowance (JSA), Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Guarantee credit of pension credit, Child Tax Credit (but not entitled to Working Tax Credit) where your annual income, as shown on your Tax Credit award notice, is £16,190 or less.

Students may also qualify for free or assisted post-16 transport if they have special educational needs, a mental/physical disability or live in an area without public-transport links.