School Transport: Integrated Sector

Oral Answers to Questions — Education – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:00 pm on 2nd March 2015.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Sammy Wilson Sammy Wilson Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Treasury) 3:00 pm, 2nd March 2015

8. Mr Wilson asked the Minister of Education what percentage of children attending integrated schools receive free school transport. (AQO 7698/11-15)

Photo of John O'Dowd John O'Dowd Sinn Féin

The percentages of pupils attending integrated schools who are eligible for assistance with home-to-school transport are 17·8% for primary and 51·9% for post-primary.

Photo of Mitchel McLaughlin Mitchel McLaughlin Speaker

I call Mr Wilson for a quick supplementary.

Photo of Sammy Wilson Sammy Wilson Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Treasury)

The discrepancy between the percentage of pupils who qualify for free school transport in the integrated sector and that for the controlled and maintained sector is a ratio of about 3:1, which partly explains the popularity of the integrated sector, especially at secondary level. That presents an unfair advantage for integrated schools over the maintained and controlled schools adjacent to them. It distorts the budget and the capital budget.

Photo of Mitchel McLaughlin Mitchel McLaughlin Speaker

Is there a question coming?

Photo of Sammy Wilson Sammy Wilson Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Treasury)

What is the Minister doing and what consideration is he giving to ensure that there is a level playing field when it comes to that very important incentive for pupils to attend one sector as opposed to another?

Photo of John O'Dowd John O'Dowd Sinn Féin

The Member will be aware that I recently received the transport review. It is a detailed document that has studied our transport system in great detail and has come forward with a significant number of recommendations. It is my intention, in the coming months, to publish that document for consultation. From that consultation, I will bring forward changes to our transport system that are felt to be required to ensure that we have a level playing field for everyone.