Review under way into the future of school transport provision

Ulsterbus is a major provider of home to school transport services. (Archive pic)
Ulsterbus is a major provider of home to school transport services. (Archive pic)

Parents, children, school staff and the wider public are being invited to have their say on the future of the Department of Education’s home to school transport policy.

A review of the current policy is under way as the department aims to ensure it is fit for purpose and financially sustainable over the long term.

Around 84,000 pupils in Northern Ireland are currently eligible for transport assistance – approximately 26% of the school population – and the cost of home to school transport provision is in the region of £81 million per year.

“The current home to school transport policy has remained largely unchanged for over 20 years, however, in this very difficult financial climate, we need to seriously consider whether we can continue to do things in the same way,” a department spokesperson said.

“This process of engagement is about asking all stakeholders if they think the current policy is helping the right pupils within the available resources. The review is about gathering ideas and views on the shape of a future policy.

“The review will focus on ensuring a revised policy will deliver value for money. Not all options would necessarily involve a reduction in expenditure or the number of pupils in receipt of home to school transport.”

It’s understood any changes to the current policy will have to be approved by a future Stormont minister.

Further information about the review and an online survey can be accessed via the department’s website – www.education-ni.gov.uk