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Fenland pupils will benefit from special school transport funding decision

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Children attending after school clubs at a Fenland special school will be entitled to free transport.

Councillors have agreed to extend funding for children attending the after-school club at the Meadowgate Academy in Wisbech.

It means pupils staying on after school to attend the club will be able to get home using council-funded transport.

Pupils at this Fenland school will benefit from special school transport funding decision.
Pupils at this Fenland school will benefit from special school transport funding decision.

The decision was made at Tuesday's meeting of Cambridgeshire's children and young people's committee and follows consultation carried out in January in response to a review of funding arrangements for transport to and from clubs run by special schools across the county.

No immediate changes will be made to the funding arrangements for transport to and from after-school clubs at other special schools in Cambridgeshire.

The results of the consultation and other observations were presented to Cambridgeshire’s children and young people’s committee with a recommendation to add the Wisbech school to the list of five that already have funding in place to enable pupils to stay beyond the end of the school day and participate in after school activities.

The arrangements – which have been in place since 2011 – up until yesterday only benefited those attending Castle School in Cambridge, Granta School in Linton, Highfields Academy in Ely, Samuel Pepys School in St Neots and Spring Common Academy in Huntingdon.

The council does not currently provide or fund similar arrangements for children and young people attending other specialist provision. It is, however, recognised that the current arrangements provide more than after school club opportunities for these pupils, by also providing parents with both respite and childcare.

Councillors agreed the discretionary transport arrangements should be extended to include pupils accessing the after-school club at Meadowgate, currently the only other special school in the county offering after school provision. The council had previously funded and provided transport when the after-school club operated until 2018 when it closed. The club has since re-opened three days a week.

The consultation sought views on five options, but the majority of responses supported the continuation of existing arrangements.

Councillor Bryony Goodliffe, committee chair said: “The feedback from the consultation clearly shows the strength of feeling and level of concern which would arise if we stopped funding transport to and from these after-school clubs.

“There is no doubt that this is a council service which is highly rated and valuable – and more than in just financial terms - to those families who currently use it, so I am pleased the committee have agreed to continue the existing arrangements, with a review in 12 months’ time.”

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