A school transport solution developed by Meath CYPSC and partners has succeeded in improving educational outcomes for students from Windtown, County Meath. This service now needs sustained funding to continue.
Challenges with school attendance, punctuality and school retention came to the attention of the Learning and Development Sub group of Meath CYPSC. The local School Completion Programme, Navan SCP, identified causal factors relating to lack of transport, a walking a distance to school of 4.7km (55 minutes walking), lack of adequate nutrition and motivation as contributing to the matter. The Department of Transport identify that the distance from home to school must be 4.8km or more to avail of the school transport scheme.
A Committee involving Scoil Naomh Eoin, Beaufort College, Navan SCP, Meath CYPSC and Flexi bus successfully developed a transport pilot scheme bringing 36 students to school in 2017-2018 and 54 students in this academic year. All students attend school in time for breakfast club and attend afterschool activities and homework clubs. After which they travel home by bus.
The service has and continues to break the cycle of educational disadvantage and provides young people with advantage in their lives. School attendance and connection with school is now an established pattern for this growing group of young people. It has supported a 100% transition rate to post primary school. It has ensured that young people travel safely and directly to and from school and are not pulled into distractions that may lie in the nearby town were they to have to travel by foot to school. Travelling through town on foot can make young people vulnerable to mitching or arriving to school late.
Congratulations are warranted to the children, young people and families of Windtown for achieving, with service providers, some very positive results from this simple and effective school transport solution including
- A reduction by 15.7 % in Autumn term absenteeism
- No late transfers from primary to post primary schools
- No student drop out from school
- Improved punctuality demonstrated by a reduction by some 7.3% in the incidences of arriving late to school
- All students have breakfast, are organised for class, are warm and comfortable as the school day commences
- All students attend homework club and this has enabled the establishment of positive routines
- Students have engaged in positive afterschool activities including football, rugby, walking club and library club
- Parents are committed and have pledged their support for their child’s education. They contact the School Completion Programme staff and the schools’ Home School Community Liaison Co-ordinator regularly if issues arise
- The number of students availing of the service increased from year 1 to year 2 from 36 students to 54 students and a second bus run for second year students commenced
- Schools are receiving an increased number of requests from parents for the transport service for the 2019 / 2020 academic year
- The local Garda Youth Diversion Project reports positive impact for its members that are using the transport service.
Funding and resources to realise these multiple benefits for Meath’s school going population have been leveraged on a one-off basis from a number of sources including Flexi bus, The National Lottery, Meath CYPSC and the National Transport Authority. The CYPSC and its partners are grateful to all contributing organisations for their continued support in assisting Meath’s youth to be school ready and establish a pattern of school attendance.
The challenge going forward is to secure the €37,000 per year to continue operation of the school transport for 2019/2020 and thereafter.
Meath is seeking support to ensure that this service continues and that families and young people continue to break the cycle of educational disadvantage.
For more information contact Christina Nestor, Navan School Completion Programme Co-ordinator. Telephone: 00 353 866013199.
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