Chaperones for young school children axed - The Leamington Observer

Chaperones for young school children axed

Leamington Editorial 3rd Sep, 2018   0

SCHOOLCHILDREN as young as four will be forced to take the bus to school on their own after chaperones were axed.

Warwickshire County Council has scrapped passenger assistants – as they are formally known – in a bid to cut costs.

Children between the ages of four and 11 will not be chaperoned in a taxi from the start of the new academic year, and the new measures are due to hit buses from February – although the council says it is currently not sure exactly how much money will be saved.

But the move prompted criticism from council Labour leader Richard Chattaway who accused the council of hitting the county’s most vulnerable.

He said: “Sometimes you have to sit back and think what do we need to spend our money on. Our children as they travel to school should be one of those priorities.

“The council says it hasn’t got the money to fund chaperones but this is an example of what austerity is doing to some of our most vulnerable people.

“A bus could have 15 to 20 children on it – who will make sure they keep their seatbelt on? What happens if the vehicle gets stuck or driver falls ill? We need to think through these issues. We will be asking for a proper debate on this.”

Angry parents launched a petition against the plans, which received more than 1,000 signatures.

It calls on the council to rethink the plans and says the safety of children, drivers, road users and pedestrians would be at risk as the driver’s concentration would be compromised.

A spokesman from Warwickshire County Council said: “Passenger assistants are a non-statutory requirement and are currently provided on all vehicles transporting primary school age children. A full assessment would be carried out on each vehicle before making any decision to remove a passenger assistant.

“The assessment would take into consideration the location of the pick-up and drop off points and the make-up of passengers – such as whether primary whether primary and secondary students are travelling together.”

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