Cork East Constituency Fine Gael TD, David Stanton, has called on the Minister for Education, Norma Foley TD, to put in place an adequate primary school bus service from Ladysbridge village to Kilcredan National School ahead of the upcoming school year.
Speaking after raising the matter with the Department of Education and Bus Éireann, David Stanton said: “Historically there were three separate primary schools at Ladysbridge, Ballypherode and Kilcredan in the parish of Ladysbridge and Ballymacoda. In the early 1970s these three schools closed, and it was decided that they would amalgamate and form one new school in the centre of the parish at Kilcredan.
“A commitment was given at the time that pupils who had previously attended the Ladysbridge, Ballypherode and Kilcredan primary schools would be entitled to school bus transport to the new amalgamated central school. Ballymacoda and Ladysbridge is one community and the primary school in Kilcredan is viewed amongst the local community as the ‘parish’ school.
“The Department of Education are however, currently implementing the primary school transport rule which underlines that children should attend their nearest primary school and may only be entitled to school transport to the nearest primary school even if this primary school is located in a different parish.
“This is causing a lot of difficulty for those people living in the expanded village of Ladysbridge and in particular for children, who up to recently, had availed of the school bus to Kilcredan National School. These children are now being told that they are not entitled to such a service anymore as Castlemartyr, which is in a different community/parish is deemed by the Department of Education to be the nearest school.
“In recent years, the government approved a very large and modern extension to Kilcredan National School, creating a comfortable, spacious facility with plenty of nearby parking. Many parents whose children are enrolled in Kilcredan or who intend to enrol their children in the future are working full-time and solely dependent on the school transport service to get their children safely to and from the school.
“Such a decision will put enormous pressure on some families if they have to drive their children to Kilcredan for even one of the daily school runs. Some parents have said to me that they may have to consider substantially reduced work hours or even give up work completely if additional spaces are not provided on the existing bus service ahead of the coming school term. “I have written to the Minister for Education on several occasions since first being notified of the situation, to highlight the negative consequences that such a decision will have for the wider local community. I have asked that the Minister and her Department officials urgently re-examine the situation and strongly consider giving Bus Éireann approval to sanction an expansion of the current service from Ladysbridge to Kilcredan to ensure that the families currently affected can continue to attend their parish national school without interruption”; concluded David Stanton.