A frustrated mum is shelling out hundreds of pounds for her daughter’s school bus pass while her son travels for free on the same bus – even though his trip is longer.
Natasha Pearl pays £350 for her daughter Odessa’s pass to Simon Langton Girls’ Grammar School – but her son travels for free.
Her son Roman, who hops off at the next stop, travels for free as his school is technically the nearest to their home in Littlebourne, Kent.
Natasha, 46, said the children’s school bus passes by Odessa’s school on the way to St Anselm’s Catholic School, in Canterbury, where Roman attends.
The single mum-of-three said: “The schools sit side-by-side, with parts of their grounds touching.
“But because of the way the distance is measured, St Anselm’s is our ‘nearest school’.
“So my son is given a free bus pass, but my daughter’s bus pass has to be paid for, even though it is nearer by bus.”
Daughter Odessa previously studied at Sandwich Technology School where she qualified for free travel from the Kent County Council (KCC).
But when she passed her grammar school entry test and moved to Simon Langton, mum Natasha had to pay £350 to get her there, even though the journey is half the distance.
The self-employed artist has branded the system “discriminatory.”
She said: “I think it exemplifies how poorer families are pushed away from grammar schools.
“I was informed that if I needed the free bus pass I should move her next door into the non-grammar option.
“But we don’t want to uproot her again, and why should she give up her grammar school place just because we can’t afford the bus?
“My son Orlando is ten and will be sitting the Kent Test soon.
“If he goes to grammar school I’ll be having to find £700 a year for my children to get to school. It seems outrageous.”
KCC defended the decision and said sending children to grammar school is a “parental choice.”
A spokesperson said: “Children assessed suitable for a grammar school do not automatically secure eligibility for transport assistance to a grammar school.
“A grammar school is a parental choice and where it is not the nearest school, there may be no eligibility to receive transport.
“All mainstream schools are required to be able to meet the educational needs of children across the mainstream ability range including those in the top 25 per cent.
“Just as a grammar school assessment does not guarantee entry into a grammar school, an offer of a place at a grammar school does not determine that transport will be provided if an alternative mainstream non-selective school or academy is closer to a child’s home address.”
It comes after Canterbury pupils formed a campaign group Bus4us calling for the council to reduce the cost of school bus passes for Kent pupils.