St Mary's College take open-top bus to protest over Hull City Council plans to cut free school transport
THEY braved the rain and wind to make sure their voices were heard.
Pupils from St Mary's College took their fight against school transport cuts to the Guildhall – aboard an open top bus.
Waving banners and cheering loudly, pupils were given a warm reception during the 20-minute journey through the streets of Hull as members of the public clapped, beeped and waved their support.
The 25 youngsters wanted to personally deliver a 700-name petition against council plans to axe non-compulsory free school transport.
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St Mary's in Cranbrook Avenue would be one of the worst affected as it has a city-wide catchment because of its Catholic faith.
Newland School for Girls is also petitioning against the cuts and it, too, has a city wide catchment as a single-sex school.
Angela Ogilvie, assistant head with responsibility for safeguarding at St Mary's, said: "We are doing what we are doing because we are really passionate about the children and this would have a detrimental effect.
"The children are upset and worried about their future and if their parents will be able to afford to send them.
"We are already seeing so many other pressures on
"We would lose so much. As a teacher at the school, I see such a diverse range of students and we would lose the essence of the school.
"It is classed as outstanding so we have been told we are doing things right, so why change that.
"Why not be an innovative city which puts children first?
"I would say to the council, be brave, be bold, be the only council prepared to say we want to put the children and education first."
As the bus travelled through the city centre, lunchtime shoppers stopped to wave.
Pulling up outside the Guildhall, the pupils then took the petition to reception.
Kerri Bell, 16, a pupil at St Mary's, said: "I think it is very bad because people may want to come to this school but will not be able to travel.
"The bus to the Guildhall was really good. We got a few honks and were able to raise awareness."
Kira Agnew, 16, said: "It is unfair children have to pay, especially in these economic times.
"Going through town was fun and it raised awareness and got more people realising what is going on."
Julie Holgate has a daughter in Year 9 and lives in the east of the city.
Her daughter would have to catch two buses to the schools.
She said: "Our main concerns are the safety aspects of removing the bus service.
"As parents, we feel the same way and hope by raising awareness it will work."
The city council has a legal duty to provide transport to pupils who go to their nearest school, but who live more than three miles away for secondary pupils and two miles for primary pupils.
It must also provide transport for children with special educational needs and low-income families – classed as those pupils on free school meals.
There are 1,900 pupils who get free transport, at a cost of about £386 each per year.
About half of them would be affected if all non-compulsory free transport is cut, meaning the council could save about £366,000.
The council launched the consultation in January.
Parents have been invited to a series of meetings to have their say.
The consultation will end on Wednesday, April 10, and a report will be sent to cabinet on May 20.