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Objection Report

Transport and Travel

  • There is no safe walking or cycling routes to the new school, current crossing points were already dangerous for pedestrians.
  • The mega-school will remove the opportunity for active travel for a very, very significant number of families
  • The level of deprivation in the north of the valley makes it more likely that nursery pupils will not be able to attend the new school as they are not entitled to any free school transport arrangements.  In an area of deprivation, it is particularly the nursery age pupils who need the early language and socialisation development that comes with school attendance.  Yet it is these pupils who would be unlikely to access the new school and who probably need it the most.  As a consequence, such children could miss out on 2 years of education under the proposed plan or relocate elsewhere. .
  • The 2-mile cut off, will mean some children on a street will be entitled to free transport, but their neighbourhood friends will not. How are the children whose families do not have cars supposed to get to school?
  • There were insufficient details of the practicalities of school transport. Would small children be expected to share a bus with teenagers?
  • Free school transport available to those over 2 miles away, which will mean that the majority of pupils at Godre’rgraig will no longer be able to walk to school. The distance means that a large number of children will travel by bus (whether free or not), meaning their participation in breakfast clubs or after school activities will be governed by the timing of the bus.  This will have a detrimental impact on their educational and social development in a school where many pupils will be more locally based.   
    It is quite concerning that parents will have to put their 3 year old children on a bus on their own.  What would be the plans for transport?  If there continues to be a bus will this be at a cost?
  • Children will not be living in the same area as their classmates so interaction out of school will be difficult. 
  • The north of the Swansea valley is an area of significant deprivation. It is vital to have an accessible English medium primary serving Cilmaengwyn, Ystalyfera and Godre’rgraig.  Most of the pupils attending Godre’rgraig Primary School come from further up the valley than the school building itself, which is a distance of around 4 – 5 miles and more from the proposed new school.  This is an unreasonable distance for a primary school, and unnecessarily discriminates against pupils in this area. Parents may feel they have no choice but to send their child to the Welsh medium school because it is the only one that is accessible.  The report has not understood my concern that this will impact on education. 

Officer Response

Issues raised around travel and transport have been addressed in the consultation report pgs. 27-29. The Council’s current Home to School Travel Assistance Policy, as referenced in the consultation report, contains specific information on how to apply for assistance and the criteria used for assessing applications.

As noted in the consultation report, a significant number of pupils from Alltwen and Llangiwg Primary schools arrive at school by car on a daily basis, with pupils travelling across the Swansea Valley to attend schools outside their catchment area. A similar situation occurred in Godre’rgraig until the move to temporary accommodation, resulting in 85% of pupils travelling by bus. This would suggest that the three schools already contribute to traffic in the area.

All schools in Neath Port Talbot are committed to encouraging walking and cycling to school where possible. For many of the primary aged pupils the proposed location of the new school on the site at Parc Ynysderw remains within 2 miles travel distance for homes in the catchment area. 

An independent Traffic Impact Assessment has found that the site is located in a sustainable location with good walking and cycling connections from the surrounding area. Additionally as an existing school is already present directly adjacent to the site, on-site Safe Routes to School / in Communities assessments have previously been carried out, and there are good public transport connections within the immediate vicinity of the site allowing for good accessibility for staff and parents travelling to the site from further afield.

An estimate of the numbers of pupils who live further than 2 miles away from the proposed new school site at Parc Ynysderw, based on the numbers and addresses of the pupils currently in the three schools suggests that approximately 176 pupils could potentially be eligible for assistance with transport, which removes the need for parents to transport these pupils to school by car. Support with home to school travel will be made available in line with the Council’s Home to School Transport policy. Home to school journey times from within the catchment area are expected to fall within reasonable limits for primary age pupils. The remaining pupils live on routes that have been assessed as safe, although these routes will be reassessed should the proposal progress and when details of the pupils who will be attending the new school are known. At that time the Neath Port Talbot Road Safety Officers will be available to assist and support schools, parents and pupils in planning safe routes in line with Welsh Government Learner Travel Guidance.

There is no statutory duty requiring a local authority to provide free transport to any nursery learner who is under compulsory school age. The Council’s current Home to School Travel Assistance Policy reflects this and there is no entitlement to transport assistance for nursery children.

In some circumstances and where opportunities present, under temporary discretionary arrangements, parents of nursery age pupils are able to request the use of a vacant seat on a vehicle which travels along a relevant route and which is suitable for nursery aged pupils.

These arrangements are no less favourable than those applying to other parents of nursery age children across the County Borough.

Objections have been received which state that by not providing transport assistance for nursery pupils these children will be denied access to a nursery education, deemed particularly important in this case due to the deprivation in the area. Previous reorganisation schemes have also raised these concerns, however data indicates that pupils attending full time school in reception classes have also accessed nursery provision either at the school they currently attend or at another school. This has included schools where full time pupils have transport assistance, and includes schools in areas of high deprivation. It would therefore seem unlikely that this proposal would impact on nursery pupils any more than previous school reorganisation schemes have done.

Extra transport for pupils to access breakfast club and after school activities will not be provided.  It is expected that arrangements will be made by the head teacher and Governing Body of the new school should the proposal go ahead, with the aim of ensuring that all pupils attending the school regardless of where they live have equal opportunities

Arrangements for extra-curricular activities are not an uncommon challenge for schools that have pupils attending from outside the immediate area .There are a range of solutions to this problem found by other schools that include: arrangements with transport companies, arranging activities at lunchtime or other times during the school day or facilitating car shares with parents. 

Pupil safety and well-being on school transport are given high priority by the Council. Many schools in Neath Port Talbot and across Wales admit pupils from outside of the immediate vicinity of the school and very many children and young people are transported to school every day from all parts of the County Borough.  In line with the Council transport policy, a passenger assistant will be provided where deemed necessary according to Welsh Government Learner Travel guidance.   

Pupils from across the primary age range are likely to travel in the same vehicle as they do across the county borough; this is not perceived to be problematic as these children attend the same school and are likely to mix at other times during the school day.

This proposal recognises that for some children walking or cycling to school will not be possible, as is also the case now for some pupils on roll at the three schools. However opportunities will still exist through curricular and extra-curricular arrangements for pupils to learn about the importance of a healthy lifestyle, and the enhanced leisure facilities available on the proposed site will enable them to take part in activities which further promote this.