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Schools and school transport

In line with the latest Government guidance, Bedford Borough schools re-opened in September. Parents and carers are advised to check with their child’s school with regards to any changes to the school day.

The Department for Education is running a helpline for questions about Coronavirus for staff, parents and young people:

Free school meals 

Children entitled to income-related free school meals or universal infant free school meals are again able to access these in schools, during the school term.

If your child is entitled to income-related free school meals and is required to isolate during the school term, they are still entitled to receive their free school meal.  Please contact your child’s school to discuss what arrangements are available.  Please note this does not apply to children receiving a meal under the universal infant free school meal scheme.

The government also have announced a new £170m Covid Winter Grant Scheme; Local Authorities will be receiving their allocation of the grant in early December in order to directly help the hardest-hit families by providing access to food for children who need it over the Christmas and February school holidays.

We are currently working to secure a suitable Provider to issue supermarket vouchers directly to families eligible for income-related free school meals. We are also working with our Children’s Centres to identify those children, under 5 years of age, who are in receipt of pupil premium funding so that they can also be supported through the grant. We will be contacting eligible families directly in advance of the Christmas Holiday period. 

If your personal circumstances have recently changed and you would like to check if your child is now eligible to receive income-related free school meals, please speak to your school or read our guidance and apply online at Free school meals.

The most up to date free school meal guidance from the Department of Education can be found here 

School transport

Following the period of lockdown earlier in the year, schools have now reopened to all pupils.

As far as possible, we would like to encourage children who can safely and appropriately cycle or walk, to do so. Many teachers report that pupils who walk or cycle to school are more alert and ready to learn than those who arrive by car. The Bedford and Kempston Cycling and Walking Map can be found here, Travel Bedford cycling maps which can help you plan the safest route. There are also individual or family cycle lessons available to help build your confidence while cycling, for more details please email sustainable.transport@bedford.gov.uk .

For children who use dedicated home to school transport, commissioned by Bedford Borough Council - In line with DfE guidance, operators are not required to adhere to the same social distancing measures that are in place on public transport. This means that they are largely running their normal scheduled service with additional protective measures in place, as agreed by Public Health. For further information please read the Parent/ Carer guide to transport during COVID-19

Some schools have changed or stagger start and finish times; where possible, transport has been planned to support these arrangements. If you require information on your children transport arrangements, please contact the Mainstream School Transport Team.

For children who use the public bus network - social distancing is still in place and available capacity on public bus services will be reduced in line with the latest Department for Transport guidance. The Council has been liaising with local transport providers and schools/colleges to identify areas of concern and larger vehicles, designated school buses and / or additional resource has been implemented, where possible. Social distancing does not apply to vehicles that have been closed to members of the general public and are only transporting school students. All schools have been advised to encourage children who usually travel to school on public transport to consider cycling or walking as an alternative means of travel, where possible.

Please read the following guides of how we are providing school transport in line with the current public health guidelines during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

If you believe your child is eligible to transport, and you require additional information regarding entitlement to transport or bus services in September, please contact the relevant Transport Team listed below:

School Transport Entitlement Team: School.Transport@bedford.gov.uk 01234 276713

Mainstream School Transport Team: Mainstream.Transport@Bedford.gov.uk 01234 276528

SEND Transport Team: Client.Transport@Bedford.gov.uk 01234 276116

Please be advised that new applications for transport, will be processed within 15 working days.