Boost for school travel

Teenagers living in the most isolated parts of Norfolk have been given an education boost after the government handed more cash to the county to help them travel to study the new 14-19 diplomas.

Teenagers living in the most isolated parts of Norfolk have been given an education boost after the government handed more cash to the county to help them travel to study the new 14-19 diplomas.

“Rural sparsity” funding has been increased per pupil from �120 to �200, enabling Norfolk County Council to enhance the crucial transport links to get the young people from school to school to access their lessons.

At the moment 1,074 Norfolk students are taking the new qualifications, which include construction and built environment, creative and media, and society, health and development.

Officers from Norfolk County Council were involved in a working group set up to overcome the problem of delivering the diplomas in rural areas.

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Their input has made an impact, with the government announcing extra money to help authorities in isolated areas.

The money means Norfolk will be able to employ a �37,500-a-year transport co-ordinator throughout 2010/11, and will be able to top up the cash per pupil in rural areas to �200.

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Mary Roche, transport policy manager for children's services at the county council, said: “This is good news for the county and will go some way to addressing the challenges we face in delivering diplomas in rural areas.

“It will help to fund some of the additional costs we anticipate in transporting students and staff and creating bases to deliver diploma courses.

“We have been involved in the national group working to address this issue and have helped to advise the Department for Children, Schools and Families on the issues affecting rural areas and how rurality should be measured. This won't cover all of our additional costs but it is a step in the right direction.”

She said the money would be allocated on the basis of the distance students needed to travel for their learning, to ensure that the right students were benefiting from the top-up funding.

She added: “As take-up of diplomas increases rural dispersion will create more of a challenge and we are having to look at imaginative ways of delivering these courses.

“We already provide mopeds and electric bikes to some students in rural areas to support them to travel to their studies and are looking to further develop this scheme.

“In some cases we are moving tutors around the county, rather than students and we are also looking at whether we need to have hubs in certain areas to deliver courses.”

The diplomas are being delivered by groups of schools and colleges, with students sometimes having to travel between institutions for different aspects of their courses.

The consortia include:

t Open Opportunity - The Hewett School, City of Norwich School, Notre Dame High and City Academy Norwich, all in Norwich, plus Framingham Earl High

t Extended Rural Norfolk Federation - Alderman Peel High in Wells, Fakenham High, Reepham High and Aylsham High

t Wensum - Costessey, Taverham and Hellesdon high schools

t Northern Lights -Sewell Park College and Open Academy, both in Norwich, Sprowston High and Thorpe St Andrew School

Consortium East - all the high school in the east of Norfolk

t OWN - all 10 west area schools

t All Routes - Wymondham High, Wymondham College, Attleborough, Hethersett and Old Buckenham high schools

t Pathways to Success - Hobart, Long Stratton, Diss and Archbishop Sancroft high schools

t Thetford - Rosemary Musker and Charles Burrell high schools.

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