Aberdeen City Council is to use money raised from the 2022/23 Bus Lane Enforcement surplus to pay for the cost of providing free school transport to eligible pupils attending the Gaelic provision schools, for the 2023/24 academic year.
At the Education and Children’s Services Committee today (Tuesday 04 July) members also agreed to:
- Implement catchment areas for the existing Gaelic Medium Education provision at Hazlehead Academy and Gilcomstoun School as defined within Maps A and B in the consultation report at Appendix 1 of the committee report, with effect from 1 August 2023. https://committees.aberdeencity.gov.uk/documents/s146737/Newhills_Bucksburn%20Consultation%20Final.pdf
- Instruct the Chief Officer - Operations and Protective Services, in conjunction with the Chief Officer - Finance to refer the provision of free school transport to the Gaelic Medium Education provisions at Hazlehead Academy and Gilcomstoun School for those pupils eligible to receive it to the 2024/25 budget setting process.
Eligible children are those who live two or more miles away from Gilcomstoun School and three or more miles away from Hazlehead Academy.
Secondary-aged pupils will be encouraged to make use of their eligibility for Young Persons’ Free Bus Travel, where possible, to help minimise additional costs.
The cost of supporting free school transport for those eligible to receive it is estimated at £62,000 per year. At present no budget is in place to support transport costs in future years, hence the matter is being referred to the budget setting process for 2024/25, in order that the provision can be made to cover the transport costs on an annual basis from that point onwards.
Councillor Martin Greig, Convener of Education and Children’s Services Committee said: “There should be fair and appropriate access to Gaelic medium education across the city. Meeting the travel costs for eligible pupils, will help to remove a possible barrier which could discourage those who wish to make this choice. The overall aim is to ensure that educational opportunities are not limited because of where you live.”
Vice Convener, Councillor Jessica Mennie “We have a responsibility to promote access to Gaelic Education to pupils who wish to receive it. By being able to meet the transport costs of those pupils who are eligible, we can ensure that all city pupils who wish to enjoy a Gaelic education can do so.”
Aberdeen City Council has a duty under section 15 of the Education (Scotland) Act 2016 to promote Gaelic Medium Education in its area so far as is reasonably practicable.
At the Education and Children’s Services Committee on Tuesday 23 May 2023, the Committee was presented with a report on the outcomes of a recent statutory public consultation, on the proposal to create catchment areas for the existing Gaelic Medium Education (GME) provisions at Hazlehead Academy and Gilcomstoun School.
The Committee was advised that upon implementation of a city-wide catchment zone, the City Council would become responsible for covering the costs of free transport for those eligible to receive it, and that is no budget provision in 2023/24 to cover these costs.
At the committee meeting of 23 May 2023, members agreed to instruct the Chief Officer - Operations and Protective Services, in conjunction with the Chief Officer - Finance to identify a source of appropriate funding for the cost of providing free school transport to the Gaelic Medium Education provisions at Hazlehead Academy and Gilcomstoun School for those pupils eligible to receive it and to report back to the July 2023 meeting of the Education and Children’s Services Committee, for further consideration of implementation of the catchment areas referred to in recommendations.