With the prospect of our schools becoming increasingly open again, I wanted to highlight an issue that is particularly pertinent in North Somerset although I imagine it is more generic. It relates to pupils who require transport to school.
As there are a relatively small number of pupils in years 1 to 6 who currently receive transport to school this should be relatively manageable within the available capacity. Even with this small number of pupils, the local authority believes that it would require around 21 extra vehicles if social distancing measures were to be maintained. This would, of course, mean the authority paying for a lot of empty seats.
There will be a problem of a different magnitude when we extend to pupils for year 10 where there will be a duel impact. Not only will additional vehicles be required for the increased number of pupils, but this will be disproportionately large given the social distancing requirements. There is also likely to be a constraint on supply in our area with a more general return to work across the district and into Bristol and Bath.
For a general return in September there will be insufficient capacity within the whole transport network due to a mixture of statutory obligation, under the two and three mile distance from school rules, and pupils sent to non-local schools under parental preference. This is likely to have a particular impact on schools such as St Catherine’s, Churchill and Backwell in both my constituency and that of Weston-super-Mare.
I know this is unlikely to be an issue confined to North Somerset but any guidance that you feel able to give to our local authority, schools and parents would be greatly appreciated.