Council funds school bus for another year

Nailsea School.

Nailsea School. - Credit: Archant

Nailsea Town Council has agreed to support Nailsea School’s minibus service to transport pupils to and from nearby villages.

The school applied to the authority for help with funding last year to try to boost pupil numbers.

The council allocated £5,000 to help pay for a minibus to take pupils to and from Long Ashton and other villages.

Pupil numbers have now increased and the school has applied for financial help with the service again this year.

In a letter to the council, the school’s business manager Sarah Hurlow said: “Our numbers for year seven have increased from around 120 in 2016/17 to 180 in 2017/18, which is fantastic.

“A larger proportion of students are coming from the Long Ashton area and as a result we have had, to date, an expression of interest in the minibus service of around 27 additional pupils, taking the potential user numbers to around 35 next year.

“In order to continue the service, and extend it to the new year sevens, we would need to run and staff two minibuses or hire a coach.”

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The school confirmed it could buy a bus it currently leases for £22,000, pay £5,000 a year to continue with the lease or hire a coach for just under £30,000 a year.

Mrs Hurlow added: “We currently charge the students £5 a week to cover some of the running costs, and undercut the First Bus service, but this would not be enough to cover costs.

“To add additional pressures, our funding from the EFA is lagged by one year, so we are not funded for the additional 60 year seven students or the subsequent three to four additional teachers required to educate them until 2018/19.”

At the town council’s meeting on May 17, the authority agreed to support the school.

Town council clerk Ian Morrell said: “It was agreed to contribute another £5,000 for the next 12 months.

“The town council is pleased the intake of year sevens is increasing this year and there’s been lots of very positive feedback about the new headteacher.

“The council is pleased to support the school for another year.”