Copeland Council Council has sharply criticised the decision taken by Cumbria County Council to remove subsidies for the transport of children to Se Benedict’s. The new cost amounts to £350 a year, and the burden to be borne by families with several children of secondary school age may prove crippling. Council Leader, Elaine Woodburn, argues that by removing subsidies the County Council may be making it difficult for parents to send their children to the school of their choice.
Like all other councils, Cumbria County Council has been forced to distinguish between requirements that are statutory (required by law) and those that are discretionary, and offered by choice. Government support for councils is now based on the assumption that they should be meeting no more duties than are legally necessary. Councils are obliged to provide free transport to the nearest school. The point at issue is whether for Roman Catholic families that should be the nearest faith school.
Two questions need to be considered:
1) Should Whitehaven families who wish to send children to West Lakes Academy be subsidised?
2) How important is it that children should attend schools of the faith that their families follow?
We shall be interested in your answers.