We are responsible for providing a school transport service, where it is not reasonable or safe to expect your child to walk to school. This service is generally, but not always, free of charge. Use this page to understand eligibility for transport between home and school, the ways to get this service, and the situations where charges may apply.
For most children moving to a new school at the start of the school year ('bulk transfers'), applying for school transport will automatically be part of the process. However, if your child moves schools at another time, or your circumstances change, you can submit a new application for school transport at any time.
Types of application
We will check eligibility for school transport as part of the school place application process for bulk transfers to start Reception at primary school or Year 7 at secondary school. We will contact the parent who submitted the application, telling you if we think your child is eligible for transport to school, and asking you to confirm by a certain date if you plan to use the service. Our message will contain details about how and when you need to respond.
Once we establish eligibility during the bulk transfer process, your child's entitlement to the service will 'roll over' from one academic year to the next, unless your circumstances change or we inform you otherwise.
If your child lives at more than one address
We need to check eligibility for school transport separately for every address that your child travels to school from. We will only automatically check eligibility and contact the parent who made your child's school place application. If your child will be travelling to school from more than one address, we will need to know about it, so that we can also check their eligibility for this journey.
If you have not received an offer of school transport as part of a bulk transfer to a new school, you will need to apply for this service. This may include any of these circumstances:
- Moving schools in any year which is not the normal starting age for that school (normally Reception for primary schools, and Year 7 for secondary schools)
- Moving schools in the middle of the school year
- Moving to a new address
- A change in your family's financial circumstances
- A change in the physical health or mobility of your child
- If we haven't already assessed your child's eligibility, because they live with you part-time, and their other parent or guardian completed their school place application
A number of different factors may affect your child's eligibility for school transport, and whether the service is free of charge, including where they live, the school they attend, and their particular needs and circumstances, as well as your family's financial situation. Select an item from the list below, to read about eligibility in more detail and understand if your application is likely to be successful.
If the journey from your home to your nearest suitable school* is further than the 'statutory walking distance' for your child's age, then they will be able to get free transport to attend. This distance is 2 miles for children aged 5 to 7 years old, and 3 miles for children aged 8 to 16.
*When we talk about your 'nearest suitable school', we mean the nearest school that we, as a local education authority, determine as appropriate for your child. This may not always be the closest school to your home. In rare cases, your choice of school may affect your child's eligibility for free school transport, if you choose a more distant school, when we feel that there is an appropriate school which is nearer to your home.
If we think the only available route to school is a dangerous one in terms of road safety, we may offer your child free transport, even if your home is within the statutory walking distance. Our assessment will take into account the age of your child, and whether we would reasonably expect you or another adult to walk with them to school. View our hazardous routes assessment document, to learn about the things we do, and don't, take into account.
If your family doesn't have much money coming in, your child may be eligible for free school transport. We define this low income as follows:
- Your child is eligible for benefit-related free school meals
- Your family is eligible for the maximum level of Working Tax Credit
This low income eligibility means that your child will get free transport in the following situations:
- They are attending their nearest suitable school, and it's 2 or more miles from home (for primary children aged 8 to 11)
- They are attending one of the three nearest schools to their home address, and the distance to school is 2 to 6 miles (for secondary children)
In exceptional circumstances, we may supply free school transport if your child attends their nearest suitable school, but has medical needs which mean they can't easily walk there. This is often done for a short agreed period, and eligibility will always be reviewed. In these cases, we would need evidence of your child's condition from their doctor, and may consult the Local Health Authority.
There may be reasons of religious faith (or other belief) for your child to attend a school which is not the one designated by us (what we consider to be the nearest appropriate school). In the following circumstances, we will provide school transport:
- Your child's school has the appropriate religious ethos for your family's faith. This can include preferring a school with no religious affiliation, if your family are atheists or humanists.
- The school is the nearest one to your home which is appropriate in terms of faith.
- The school is outside the 'statutory walking distance' for your child's age (please see the notes above on distance from home).
- In the case of attending a school affiliated to your family's faith, your child has been baptised or confirmed in that faith. We may ask for a baptismal certificate or similar evidence.
Please note that although we provide a transport service to denominational schools, there are usually passenger fees for this service, unless you qualify for a reduction of the fees due to other reasons, such as low income, or having had a sibling at the same school at any time up to August 2014.
More details about the sibling scheme for denominational school transport
- Brother or sister or half brother or sister
- Adopted brother or sister
- Step brother or sister
- The child of the parent or carer's partner (if that child also lives at the same address)
If you want to appeal against a decision on eligibility
We have a legal duty to provide a review and appeals procedure, if you disagree with our decision about your child's eligibility for school transport.
Read about the stages of the appeal process
- 1 Review request
- You have 20 days from our decision to do this.
- 2 Assessment
- Within 20 days of your request, one of our senior officers will review our original decision. They will contact you with their assessment, giving detailed reasons for their decision.
- 3 Independent panel
- If you are unhappy with the officer's assessment, you have another 20 days to formally request an appeal. Our Democratic Services team will set up a hearing within 40 working days. The panel will consist of independent volunteers with appropriate legal training. They will balance our decision with your child's needs, and considerations of road safety.
- 4 Before the appeal hearing
- You will receive an invitation to attend the hearing, around 14 days in advance. You will need to send information and evidence in support of your appeal. Around seven days before the hearing, you will receive copies of your papers, together with any papers submitted by the council. All papers are confidential, and the hearing happens in private. If you cannot attend, the hearing will take place in your absence.
- 5 During the hearing
- Both sides will have a chance to argue their case, and may have to answer questions from the panel. You will also have a chance to ask questions of the council representative.
- 6 After the hearing
- The panel will make its decision in private. They will consider all the evidence, in particular, the following questions:
- - How we have applied our policies to decide eligibility
- - Whether we informed you correctly about our decision
- - Whether it would be an effective and efficient use of council resources to fund your child's transport
- - Whether your case and circumstances outweigh other considerations
- The panel will inform you, and us, of their decision within five working days of the hearing. The decision is final and binding on both parties. You have the right to complain to the Local Ombudsman and ask for a judicial review of their decision, but only if you have strong evidence that the appeal has not been handled correctly, or the decision is flawed on public law grounds.
If your child is not eligible
We organise school transport and hire vehicles based on the needs of children who are eligible for the service. Sometimes, your child may continue to make the same school journey each day, but no longer qualify for the service - for example, because they reach the age of 16, or your family circumstances change.
However, if we are already running a service to your area for other children who are eligible, it may still be possible for your child to take a seat on our hired vehicle, as a fare paying passenger. If you apply and a seat is available, we will let you know the fare, and you will need to pay in advance.