A FATHER-of-four is fighting for transport provision for young people who want to further their education - as it becomes 'increasingly difficult' for schools and colleges to help.

Jon Majeika, who lives in Evershot and whose children attend Beaminster School, feels provision for free school transport - provided for students up to age 16 - should have been extended when the school leaving age was increased to 18 in 2015.

Mr Majeika faces annual costs of more than £1,000 in bus passes for his daughter - which could triple when his other three children embark on higher education.

He has set up a petition, which has so far received more than 900 signatures, and is encouraging other parents to sign it.

He said: “Our eldest is 16 and is a Beaminster sixth form link student with Yeovil College - this means she spends three days at college and two days at Beaminster School.

“The travel arrangements are that she gets the bus to school, which is just over an hour’s journey, and then the link bus to college, which is another hour. The cost of an annual pass for the school bus is £700 and the cost of an annual pass for the link bus is £380. We are currently driving her to college, and she gets the bus into school at a daily cost of £5 return.

“We also have 14-year-old triplets at Beaminster School and in two years’ time, they will be in the same position. Therefore, we probably have to find an additional £2,100 plus to get them to their chosen place of education.

“We have friends in similar situations and many parents across the county, and indeed the country, are struggling with the issue. It is also putting more cars and young drivers on the road.

“The leaving age for full-time education was extended in 2015. In my opinion, the provision of free school transport should have been extended at the same time. It wasn’t and it needs to be.

“Anybody with children in full-time education, regardless of their age, should sign the petition because, although they might not be affected now, they will be when their children reach 16.”

The petition has been shared on social media by Beaminster School and parents.

Keith Hales, headteacher at Beaminster School, said: “At a time when we should be encouraging our children to continue in education or training, the growing cost of post-16 transport, particularly in a rural area, is making this challenging.

“As a joint sixth form, we have worked hard to establish, fund and develop our own sixth form link to Yeovil College due to the reduction in student transport, but continued pressure on school budgets is making this increasingly difficult.”

Dorset Council is required to ensure suitable travel arrangements for ‘eligible children’ of statutory school age in their area to get them to ‘qualifying schools’.

Cllr Ray Bryan, Dorset Council’s portfolio holder for highways, travel and environment, said: “When the government raised the age of compulsory education, training or employment with training, there was not an equivalent change in the national transport policy to supply travel for students to apprenticeships, colleges or sixth forms.

“We are very keen to work with all education providers to make sure the information that they give to potential students is explaining all the options they can take.”

The petition is available at petition.parliament.uk/petitions/275304