Louth and Mablethorpe students ‘are being left behind’

Students in Louth and Mablethorpe are being ‘left behind’ and ‘set up to fail’ by a lack of choice, facilities and transport support for post-16 education, parents say.

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Parents and councillors say students forced to travel to Grimsby are working more than adults, while parents are struggling to afford travel costs.

However, Lincolnshire County Council (LCC) says it is providing “more support than most authorities.”

Louth town councillor Lynne Cooney (Lab), whose daughter has Asperger’s Syndrome, said cuts in funding support meant parents were paying £570 a year towards transport costs, and students’ mental health was being impacted.

Councillor Lynne Cooney

She said there was no option within Louth for those with ‘moderate’ learning disabilities and called for new facilities within or nearer to Louth.

Coun Cooney’s daughter previously had dedicated transport which LCC and Grimsby Institute had paid for. However, that has been withdrawn and she now travels in a taxi with others with learning issues.

“The sting is that because she is over 19, she can only access parts of the course on two days,” said Coun Cooney, adding her daughter was sometimes left “with no support for up to seven hours in the college because she can’t travel on public transport”.

She said special educational needs students often struggle with anxiety, depression and other mental health issues.

“ELDC are leaving Manby empty [to move to Horncastle] which would be a fantastic facility. Louth is being left behind yet again,” she said.

One of Mablethorpe’s ELDC councillors, Claire Newman (Lab), said some students were working more than 50 hours a week including travel time.

She said the subsidies forced pupils to travel at set times of the day or face higher ticket prices.

“As a young person, we are setting that child up to fail because we’re asking them to be the best they can be, but we’re asking them to work more than 55 hours a week,” she said.

She added “a massive uptake in food banks” showed parents on benefits were “struggling” despite the subsidies.

Under government rules, children over the age of 16 must be in education until age 18.

Students in Louth can currently access sixth form at King Edward VI Grammar School or ‘designated transport colleges’ in Grimsby.

In Mablethorpe, the options are Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, in Alford, or Grimsby. Some are also going to Skegness.

Nearly 150 students are getting transport support from Louth to help them access education in Grimsby, while more than 100 students travel from Mablethorpe.

A spokesman from LCC said the £570 contribution towards travel costs was “significantly lower than other local authorities.”

The authority spends £25 million on home-to-school transport, and a further £3 million for post-16 transport.

Councillor Patricia Bradwell, executive councillor for children’s services at Lincolnshire County Council, said: “It’s not a statutory duty for councils to provide post-16 transport and many don’t.

“However, we acknowledge that as a very rural county it’s difficult for students to access sixth forms and college in Lincolnshire, so we make a significant contribution to the cost of student transport.

“Of those authorities that do provide this support, Lincolnshire provides more than most.”

She said bespoke transport arrangements were available where there was exceptional need, and the authority worked with bus providers.