Catholic schools in Kirklees unite to fight bus cuts

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PARENTS could be forced to shell out hundreds of pounds a year if Kirklees Council axes free transport to Catholic schools.

The council currently provides a free bus pass for Catholic children to travel to St John Fisher school in Dewsbury, the only Catholic high school in the area.

Under budget proposals drawn up by officers, the service would be axed to save £136,000 over the next five years.

But the Labour Cabinet is against the plans, which will be decided at a full council meeting on February 22.

Catholic schools are fighting the proposals, saying they are discriminatory.

Kevin Higgins, headteacher of St John Fisher Catholic High School, said: “From 2013, Kirklees consider that attending a Catholic school is not a right and should parents send their children to us, they must pay.

“This could mean a family with two children paying £40 or more per week to get them to school and back, unaffordable for many.

“The proposal is a form of religious discrimination. It is those in need who will be hit hardest. It is those families with an income just high enough to ensure they are not eligible for the statutory subsidies that will be most badly affected.

“These are often hardworking families on low incomes, and the prospect of having to find several hundreds of pounds in order to enable their children to travel to school would cripple them financially.

“Parents affected will have to make a choice – send pupils to a non-Catholic school or face hardship.”