CHANGES to how children will be bussed to schools in the county have been approved by Powys County Council’s cabinet – but they will not include ending payments for children travelling out of Powys to study.

At a meeting on Tuesday, September 15, councillors were told of the results of a consultation held in June and July which saw a major change in the Home to School Transport Policy.

Following criticism in the consultation, officers advised that cabinet drop the proposal to stop paying out of Powys travel expenses for  16 to 19-year-old students.

This means the £75,000 saving expected from to the Home to School Transport policy will not materialise.

Powys Council spends about £10 million a year on school transport, and is under no obligation to pay for post-16 education transport.

But rather than end the payments, the council has vowed to improve education standards in Powys, encouraging pupils to study in the county.

Finance and Transport portfolio holder Cllr Aled Davies (Llanrhaeadr – ym -Mochnant & Llansilin – Conservative) said: “It’s important that when you go out to consultation you take on board people’s comments.

“Maybe we don’t accept them all but it’s important to listen.

“If you refuse to change anything, there’s hardly any point of running a consultation.

“This transport policy reflects the situation in our current education system and we will have to review and revisit the policy as we go through our transformation agenda.”

On the post-16 provision and the u-turn on the £75,000 saving proposal, Cllr Davies, said that what was being offered by sixth forms and colleges was “not quite good enough yet”.

He added that some courses were “not available in Powys.”

Former education portfolio holder and current adult social services portfolio holder, Cllr Myfanwy Alexander (Banwy – Independent), said: “It’s true to say given the large scale educational transformation that’s underway, this policy will become less and less needed for post-16 transport.

“You don’t go out for a hamburger when you have steak at home."

Cllr Alexander added: “The cost will be less relevant as well advised youngsters find they have top quality courses on their doorstep.

“No-one wants to get up very early to travel further, and it’s our job to put that right.”

To be eligible for free school bus, pupils need to live more than two miles away from their primary school and three miles away from a secondary school.

Part of the policy includes access to Welsh medium education and legally , and the council is obliged to provide and promote access to education and training in the Welsh language

The decision was supported unanimously and will come into force in September 2021.