A FAMILY was left outraged after an 11-year-old boy was told he would have to travel alone in a car driven by a bus driver for part of his journey to school.

Oxfordshire County Council made the suggestion to Samuel Herbert’s family because there was no bus available to take him to school from his home in Longworth.

Mum Michelle and dad Mark had chosen to send him to Larkmead School in Abingdon as they could not afford an estimated £800 per year for buses to Faringdon Community College after the county council limited free home-to-school transport.

Mrs Herbert, a temporary Oxford University administrator, refused to let her son travel alone with the bus driver and – after the county council was contacted by the Oxford Mail – the authority finally came up with a new solution a week before Samuel was due to start school.

The mother-of-two said: “One of the suggestions was a bus driver would come around in a licensed vehicle, pick up Samuel from a bus stop in Longworth to where the bus is parked in Southmoor. The child protection issues screamed at me.

“We had to go with the option of Larkmead because we did not have the finances to pay to transport Samuel to Faringdon Community College.”

She added: “Samuel is the only one from Longworth Primary School going to Larkmead.

“He struggled with going to Larkmead because all his friends are going to Faringdon Community College.

“He had some bullying and he is worried about how he is going to get to school.

“It is hard for a child who has walked 100 metres to school by himself."

From the school year starting this September, school transport is only free for children who are aged between four and 16 and attend their nearest school.

They must also live more than two miles from the school if aged four to eight, and more than three miles if aged over eight.

The county council said this would save £2m a year.

After Mrs Herbert rejected the suggestion of a bus driver picking her son up, the county council said it would speak to the bus company that operated the Southmoor to Larkmead route to come up with another solution.

But it was only on Thursday, a week before Samuel was due to start school, that Mrs Herbert was told the bus would be able to pick Samuel up in Longworth.

Mrs Herbert said she would accept the offer for now to allow Samuel to start school, but would appeal against it at a later date.

Oxfordshire County Council did not respond to requests for comment on Mrs Herbert’s specific case.

Spokesman Owen Morton said: “The change to the council’s home-to-school transport policy was the subject of a major consultation exercise and was very widely publicised.

“Every effort was made to make the public aware of the new policy and its implications for those eligible for free school transport, and those due to apply for school places in September 2015.”