Wednesday, 10 August 2022

Free travel to school plan for children at RAF base

CHILDREN living at RAF Benson are set to be given free transport to and from school.

CHILDREN living at RAF Benson are set to be given free transport to and from school.

The plan by Oxfordshire County Council has been sparked by a lack of spaces at Wallingford School and spare capacity at Icknield Community College in Watlington.

The RAF raised the issue because of the implications for families of service personnel.

The council has written to parents who live at the base as well as the two schools and RAF Benson Community Primary School.

The plan, which is currently the subject of public consultation, would take effect from the start of the new school year in September 2016 and would be reviewed annually in case the demand for places changes.

The base’s nearest secondary is Wallingford School but it is outside the school’s catchment area.

The council says the school does not have the capacity to cope with an increase in demand for places from the RAF families as there is also likely to be an increase in the demand for places from within the catchment area.

However, Icknield Community College does have the capacity to meet the likely demand from RAF Benson parents for the foreseeable future.

Neither secondary school is within a safe walking distance of the base and there are no suitable public transport connections to the Watlington school.

The council says providing free transport would give parents at RAF Benson the security of knowing their children will be able to access a secondary school.

It says there is unlikely to be any increase in costs because it already provides free transport for pupils currently attending Icknield. Any child living at RAF Benson who was offered a place at Wallingford School would also receive free travel.

Wing Commander Karl Mahon, the officer responsible for the welfare of personnel and families, said: “We are aware of the consultation that is being undertaken by Oxfordshire County Council regarding school transport from RAF Benson to Icknield Community College and Wallingford School.

“We are extremely grateful that consideration is being given to the unique situation that faces our community.”

The consultation runs until February 27. To take part, visit consult.ti/rafbenson/consultation home

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