Restrict choice to curb cars

7th August 1998 at 01:00
IN "School runs to be curbed" (TES, July 24) the root of the problem is not addressed. If the Government wants greatly to reduce the school-run menace, it needs to amend the legislation so that choice of school is restricted.

School runs by car have become common because those with their own transport can choose schools which are difficult to reach by public transport or on foot. As regards secondary schools, the nearest is often thought to be the worst, since its nearby neighbours see its truants, smokers and minor misdemeanours whereas they do not observe those of a more distant school.

Moreover, school choice is not a freedom for all, but a privilege for car owners who can make a wider selection. This is no basis for an equitable society.

If communities supported their nearest school, they would ensure that it was good; they would be united in supporting it and maintaining its quality. At present, all they need do is to opt out and go elsewhere. If new Labour wishes to encourage flourishing neighbourhoods, then an amendment that lays down that pupils attend their nearest school unless there are compelling reasons why they should not, could unite communities, cut car congestion, reduce road accidents and improve health.

We need to return to our young people the healthy freedom of mutually protective numbers of them walking to school on their own.

John Anderson, Gillbeck Close, Baildon, Shipley, West Yorkshire.

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