Another case of educational madness, this time in West Sussex.
The parents of a 10 year old boy have called for an urgent review of spending by local authorities after learning that it will cost taxpayers more than £80,000 to send him to school in a taxi.
Daniel Foulds-Holt will have to go to Steyning Grammar School, West Sussex, by taxi, at a cost to the council tax payers of West Sussex of £80 a day for five years, because no buses run to it from his home in the remote hamlet of Edburton, near Henfield.
However, buses do run from outside his front door to his first choice of secondary school, Downlands in Hassocks.
Daniel lost out on Downlands because he lives 350 metres outside its recently amended five-mile catchment area.
This is not a case of parents bleating because one school is better than the other, his parents are happy for him to go to Steyning, what they aren’t happy with is the huge cost involved.
Daniel’s mother, Ros Foulds, a psychologist, said, "It makes no sense at all. It puts my son in a ridiculous position, it's a financial waste and it's environmentally damaging.
He would have preferred to have gone to Downlands but is happy to go to Steyning. It's just how he will get there that's the problem."
She added, "This is about the county council drawing up boundaries without any regard to transport. They would rather stick with their rules, even though they are ridiculous."
Mrs Foulds has submitted a request under the Freedom of Information Act to discover how much West Sussex is paying out in taxi fares in total.
Go on, have a guess! £1 million? £1.5 million. You’re not even warm.
The bill for 2008/9 was a staggering £5,588,500!
Although most is spent on children with special needs, £864,615 of last year's outlay was spent on children without such issues.
I don’t for one minute suppose that West Sussex is the only county council with this mentality. They probably use a program similar to a store chain’s internet site ‘store finder’ to work out who's going where.
When I punch my post code into the box on these sites I invariably get directed to their nearest store, three and a half miles away. That’s OK until you realise that the mighty Thames is in between me and the store, leading to a twenty mile drive, passing a couple of closer, local branches of the store en route!
What’s wrong with jiggling the school catchment boundary a tad in these kind of cases, after all, there are no straight lines in nature!