Thursday, 24 September 2020

Questions (151)

Joe Carey


151. Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Education her plans to review the school transport scheme; when the review will commence; if submissions will be invited as part of the process; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26184/20]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

School Transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department of Education. In the 2019/20 school year over 120,000 children, including over 14,200 children with special educational needs, were transported in over 5,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres at a cost of over €219m in 2019.

The purpose of my Department's School Transport Scheme is, having regard to available resources, to support the transport to and from school of children who reside remote from their nearest school. Allchildren who are eligible for school transport and who completed the application and payment process on time have been accommodated on school transport services for the 2020/2021 school year.

In October 2019, my predecessor announced a review of the school transport scheme with a view to ensuring funds are being spent in the most effective way to meet the objectives of the scheme. Terms of reference and the scope of the review have been drafted and a Steering Group has been established.

Given the current evolving situation with Covid-19 and the continued restrictions the work of the Steering Group has been delayed. It is intended to convene the Steering Group shortly and to agree and supplement revised terms of reference to reflect the Programme for Government.

The Review will build on the proposals in the Programme for Government as they relate to school transport.