O’Dowd Launches Review Of Home-To-School Transport Policy


EDUCATION Minister, John O’Dowd has launched a review into home-to-school transport policy across Northern Ireland.

The Minister has appointed an independent expert panel to review every aspect of the current arrangements, with a view to receiving a final report by the end of August 2014.dn_screen

Speaking about the review, the Minister said: “The current home-to-school transport arrangements have been in place in some form for several decades and have not been reviewed since 1996. The time is therefore right for this area to be looked at again in detail.

“I want to ensure that we are delivering the optimum service possible in all aspects of education here so that there is equality of opportunity and access for all our young people and every child is enabled to achieve to their full potential. Transport is a key facilitator in this vision.

“The review will inform a revised approach to home-to-school transport that is targeted at pupils’ varying needs. The terms of the review also take account of the duty incumbent upon me as Minister to facilitate and encourage the development of Irish-medium and integrated education, alongside meeting the needs of the controlled, maintained and other grant-aided school sectors. “I am keen, too, that the review considers the needs of children and young people with special educational needs, who are the most vulnerable in our local education system. The review will also examine the issues facing those who live in rural areas.

“I have tasked the panel with undertaking extensive consultation and engagement with a range of people and representative bodies who have an interest in this important issue. It is vital that we look at the whole range of factors and views that are relevant so that any new policy is as effective as it can be using the resources available.”

The Minister added: “The Panel Chair Sian Thornthwaite and members Margaret Martin and Tony McGonagle have extensive experience in the education, transport and public sector arenas and I look forward to gaining the benefit of their experience and expertise as we seek to improve this important area of education policy and delivery.”