Guest post: Where religion comes in to it

Originally a comment by Steamshovelmama on Faithful and regular worshippers, a post about a council-funded bus service that refused to pick up a student because he’s not Catholic.

OK, I’ve found some more out about this.

The parents of the boy in question have chosen to send him to Holy Trinity Academy (yes, bloody academy status, thank you David Cameron) rather than to one of the geographically nearest schools. Because that has been their choice, the local council expects the parents to arrange and fund school journeys. Where the geographically nearest school has been accepted it is the local council’s role to ensure that journey is safe and affordable – for instance some pupils may be eligible for a free bus pass and the council must ensure there are safe road crossing places etc.

Where religion comes in to it – and I really don’t agree with this at all – is that if a parent wishes their child to go to a school of their faith and the nearest one of those is not the nearest school then a local council may have a policy that accepts the right of the parent to have faith appropriate education and will then subsidise transport. Apparently Telford and Wrekin local council do indeed have this policy.

The central government Equality Act requires that local authorities do not discriminate on grounds of belief but this act, apparently, does not apply to school transport. And there was a Joint Committee on Human Rights that actually scrutinised this legislation and who warned that this kind of issue might occur. (Headed by MP Harriet Harman, 4 Labour MPs, 6 Conservative, 1 Liberal Democrat and 1 cross bench – 6 from the Lords and 6 from the Commons).

Time to lobby my local MP – who is, unfortunately, a socially conservative (Labour Party) old duffer who has been in his safe seat for years. Last time I lobbied him was on the gay marriage question and I was distinctly unimpressed by his answer…

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