Faith schools children to lose free bus passes

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Children attending Sheffield faith schools look set to lose their free bus passes from September.

But in a last-minute concession from city councillors, those taking exams in 2013 or 2014 will be exempt from the new ruling.

Moves to withdraw discretionary passes from pupils at the city’s Roman Catholic schools attracted fierce opposition from some parents.

Council leaders proposed the move to save £294,000 a year – in response to Government cuts totalling £190m over three years.Discretionary passes currently go to more than 1,000 Catholic families whose children attend faith schools. Other church-goers and those of no faith do not receive free travel.

A second round of consultations was held to counter claims the move was being rushed through. It emerged most families were in favour of a phased withdrawal, but were concerned about the effects on children preparing for exams. Some parents feared their children would have to transfer to other schools rather than pay up to £200 a year to travel to Notre Dame Catholic secondary in Ranmoor or All Saints’ in Norfolk Park.

Now council leaders are recommending a phased withdrawal of the passes, allowing students in current Y10 or Y11 to retain them. This will affect around 500 students this year and 200 next year.

An appeals process has been put in place and children from low income families will continue to receive free passes. Cabinet member for families, Coun Jackie Drayton, said: “We’ve tried to protect young people who are in their examination years.’’ Council cabinet will make a final decision next Wednesday.