Families who receive the maximum Working Tax Credit or with children who are entitled to free school meals can get free home to school transport if they are:
- Aged between 8 and 11 and live at least 2 miles away from school
- Aged between 11 and 16 and their school is 2 to 6 miles away, and there aren’t 3 or more suitable schools closer to home
- Aged between 11 and 16 and their school is 2 to 15 miles away, as long as it’s their nearest school favoured on the grounds of religion or belief.
A child is also eligible for free school transport if their SEND means they’re unable to walk to school, regardless of how far away they live.
What if My Child has a Statement of Special Educational Needs or Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP)?
The Local Authority has to provide school transport if your child is attending the school named in their statement and it’s more than the statutory walking distance away or your child cannot walk there by themselves.
However, if you asked for that particular school to be named when the Local Authority considered that your child could go to a nearer school, then it can avoid providing school transport. In this case, the Local Authority may agree to name your choice in the statement on the basis of 'parental preference' and that you will arrange transport.
If this is the case, this must be clearly stated in Part 4 of the statement or Section I of an EHCP. And on this basis, the Local Authority doesn’t have to provide school transport. Therefore, parents and carers shouldn’t agree to a school being named on this basis without carefully considering their options, including an appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal.
By law, the Local Authority can’t refuse to provide travel assistance to the school named in the statement or EHCP based on the fact that the pupil could attend a nearer school after the statement or EHCP has been issued.
As EHCPs can be provided to young people up to the age of 25, transport for adult learners is a grey area. The Local Authority has the discretion to make transport arrangements as they consider necessary to a young person over the age of 16 rather than a duty to do so. Consequently, seeking transport for those between 16 and 25 can be a more complex task than for a child of compulsory school age. However, the remedies below will still apply.