SIXTH FORM pupils could be forced into cars to “save the planet” after the size of school buses were reduced to tackle climate change, a move an MP has described as “idiotic”.
Monmouthshire County Council has decided to use the “smallest buses possible” for school transport under its climate change policy.
While post-16 learners are not entitled to free-home-to-school transport, the council does offer spare seats on a discretionary and heavily subsidised first come, first served basis.
But with smaller buses now operating on school routes across the county, many sixth formers have been told there is no room – forcing angry parents to drive them instead.
Local MP David Davies said it was a “staggering mindset” and made a “mockery” of the council’s intention to achieve net-zero.
In an email to Mr Davies, Labour-cabinet member for education Martyn Groucutt confirmed: “The requirement to provide free transport to school for those who qualify only applies to learners up to the age of 16.
“It has never been the policy of Monmouthshire to provide free transport for sixth form pupils and this is made clear in our documentation for people who are considering making an application for travel.
“In cases where there are spare seats available on school routes, they are offered to post-16 learners on a discretionary and heavily subsidised ‘first come first served’ basis. If there were any such seats when the allocations were made, they would have been filled at the start of term.
“However, since the council has a duty to work towards achieving zero-carbon under its climate emergency policy, great efforts have been made to ensure that buses used for school transport are the smallest ones possible to meet statutory need on its services.”
Cllr Groucutt said this meant there has been a reduction in the number of discretionary places available for sixth form pupils across the county for the current school year.
Mr Davies said it was “preposterous” and called on the council to urgently reconsider.
The Monmouth MP said: “What the Labour administration is doing is utterly ridiculous and I sincerely hope other local authorities across Wales will not be following suit.
“Reducing school bus places and forcing children to travel to school by car instead to save the planet is a staggering mindset and flies in the face of environmental concern. I have been contacted by several bemused families who have been refused transport because of the smaller buses and one parent is even contemplating a career change to get their child to school.
“I will be pointing out the idiocy of this policy to the council leader and asking for urgent reconsideration.”