Mr Patsy McGlone (Mid Ulster): To ask the Minister of Education, in relation to the Education Authority’s statement that it is considering ending free school transport (i) what rural-proofing exercise has been carried out in relation to charging for school transport; and (ii) for his assessment of the introduction of such charges.
Minister of Education: The Education Authority (EA) is currently considering a broad range of options to help it operate within its approved budget. Should they wish to progress any options that would require changes to the current home to school transport policy, any such changes would require the approval of the Department of Education.
If the EA chooses to bring forward any such proposals, I would expect them to take full account of the potential impact on any families that would be effected, including those living in rural areas, before I would study them in detail and come to a view on the proposals. Of course, any change to current policy would be subject to the normal Equality Impact Assessment and consultation processes.