Fianna Fáil TD for Eamon Scanlon has called on the Education Minister to ensure that no child is forced to change school to avail of a place on the School Transport Scheme. Deputy Scanlon says he is aware of a number of cases in Sligo, Leitrim and Cavan where students are being told that they have to transfer to a different school if they want to secure their place on the school bus.
He raised this issue at a meeting of the Oireachtas Committee on Education & Skills this week.
Deputy Scanlon explained, “I have been contacted by a number of families in Sligo and Cavan who are facing the prospect of moving their children, in one case to another county, in order to comply with the School Transport Scheme guidelines. They live around 14km from their school but may have to move to another school, which is 30km away from the school they’re currently attending. This will be a massive upheaval for these teenagers, especially during an exam year. These kids have no attachment to the new area – they don’t know anyone in the school, they’re not from the same county and they have no links to local sports clubs. If Department officials and representatives from Bus Éireann travelled the proposed route, they would not stand over the decision and the policy itself.
“This situation has come about as a result of the Department’s insistence that the distance between the home and the school is determined by the “shortest traversable route”. Some of the measurements are across bog and mountainy roads, which are not traversable by large school buses and yet these families are being deprived of a bus that they previously had for years.
“My office has also been liaising with parents in Bunnanadden in Sligo – which is at the end of one catchment area and the beginning of another. There are currently two schools served by the School Transport Scheme – Colaiste Muire in Ballymote and St. Attracta’s Community School in Tubbercurry. There are now concerns that the route to Tubbercurry is in danger of being removed. I am urging Minister Halligan to ensure that these children can continue their education in the school and to ensure that common sense and flexibility are applied in these cases”.