The Ministry of Education is standing behind its ruling that Year 9 and 10 students in Leamington are ineligible for the bus to Cambridge High School, because the closest school they could enroll in is Cambridge Middle School.
Kim Shannon, Head Education Infrastructure Service at the Ministry of Education said: “At the beginning of this year we identified potential overloading issues on our Leamington service and as a result no new ineligible students were allowed to travel. However, there were six Year 9 students who were inadvertently allowed on the service. These students were given notice of one term that they would no longer be able to travel on the service due to the risk of overloading and the serious safety issue that presents.”
Two of those six students, however, received less than a term’s notice and so have been given an exemption and allowed to ride the bus for Term Three.
“The Ministry has prioritised a review of the provision of School Transport Assistance in Cambridge. This is to ensure school transport assistance is provided to eligible students consistently and equitably as it is throughout the country,” she said.
Kim said the upcoming review of School Transport Assistance provision in Cambridge is a routine, full review of Ministry-provided school transport services in the area.
“In this case, we are currently in consultation with transport providers. The next phase in August will be to consult with the schools and their Boards of Trustees with a view to finalising the plans by late September.”
This review, however, is unlikely to change the situation for the Leamington students, as it will not be looking at changing the rules to make them eligible for the high school bus.
“Our eligibility criteria are the same across the country, and the review underway in Cambridge will not affect these criteria,” Kim concluded.
Not taking this lying down, concerned parents have started a Facebook page for people either directly affected now or likely to be in the future – Cambridge High School Bus Transport 2018 and Beyond – which attracted 77 members in its first 24 hours.