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Faster implementation of School Transport Scheme recommendations vital – Lombard

27th February 2024 - Senator Tim Lombard

Parents and students relying on the school transport scheme need to see a faster roll-out of today’s published recommendations than the Minister for Education has committed to, a Fine Gael Senator has said.

“Three years after the review of the School Transport Scheme was initiated, we finally get the recommendation contained in the final report today,” Senator Tim Lombard said.

“The recommendations that distance criteria be reduced and nearest school criteria will no longer apply are very welcome. This change in eligibility is something I have long called for and will be transformational for families.

“What is disappointing today is the timelines around implementing these recommendations. I’ve already had parents on to me this morning worried about next September. For the past three years, these families have been told the school transport scheme is under review to roll along with a ‘wait and see’ approach.

“Today they have found out that the nearest school criteria are to be removed, and while this good news for their family, it still won’t be implemented in time for the commencement of the 2024/2025 school year.

“In fact, some reports this morning suggest it could be 2030 before the recommendations are implemented, which beggars belief. The students who were in first year in 2021 when the review commenced will be finished secondary school before the changes are made – that is the stark reality.

“I appreciate that the recommendations may need to be implemented on a phased basis, but we need to see that process begin in the next school year. At a minimum, the Minister needs to implement the changes under a pilot scheme in areas which have seen the biggest issues around school transport in recent years.

“Families have waited long enough. We need to see the implementation move at a much more urgent pace than the review process.”

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