Can My Child Get Free Home to School Transport?

Posted on: 5 mins read
Last updated:
Sarah Woosey Profile Picture
Sarah Woosey

Interim Head of Education Law

Share Article:

Depending in your circumstances, your child may be entitled to get free transport to school. This is especially the case for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), for whom travelling to school by themselves or being taken by a parent or family member may be difficult and/or they have to travel out of their local area to attend a suitable school.

Your child’s eligibility for free home to school transport depends on how far away from school they live and whether they have any Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).

If you think your child should get free transportation and your Local Authority has refused it, you have the right to appeal. Get in touch with our Education Law Solicitors to find out how we can help.

TrustpilotStarsWe're ratedExcellent

Who is Eligible for Free School Transport?

Every child in England and Wales aged between 5 and 16 qualifies for free school transport if they attend their nearest suitable school and live:

  • At least 2 miles from the school if they are aged under 8
  • At least 3 miles from the school if they are aged between 8 and 16

Free school transport must also be provided if no safe walking route is available, regardless of how far from the school the child lives. If you are concerned that the walk to school isn’t safe, you should contact your Local Authority.

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. For example, this means that a child who lives only one mile away from their school but cannot walk there would be entitled to transport.

It’s important to make sure that everyone is able to get a good education and go to school, regardless of their special needs and disabilities, and regardless of how close they may live to their school.

Sometimes, children and young people are unable to make it to school on their own, whether that’s because they live too far away, or if it’s because they have mobility issues or other special needs.

What if My Child has an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP)?

The Local Authority has to provide school transport if your child is attending the school named in their EHCP  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 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 EHCP based on the fact that the pupil could attend a nearer school after the 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.

Will I Be Expected to Take My SEND Child to School?

Local Authorities can’t assume that if parents have a car, they will take the child to school. And often, children with SEND are in different schools from their siblings, and their parents simply cannot be in two schools at the same time. A Local Authority can’t insist that parents provide transport and you can refuse to provide transport without having to give a reason.

If your child needs an escort, the Local Authority can’t assume that you’ll act as an escort, and again, you can refuse without giving a reason. If the Local Authority provides escorts, check that they’re properly trained in dealing with children with SEND. When your child is eligible for transport, the Local Authority must ensure that the transport provided is actually suitable. Providing an escort may be part of that.

What if the Local Authority Refuses Transport?

It can be scary to think about appealing against a local authority, but if you feel your child or children with SEND has been refused transport unfairly, you have the right to appeal.

In these circumstances, it is usually the Local Authority’s job to make sure that these children are provided with adequate transport to and from school, and if this doesn’t happen, there are a few things you can do about it.

Firstly, you should use the Local Authority’s own internal appeal system. The appeal should be carried out reasonably quickly, especially if your child is missing school until the situation is resolved. In such circumstances, the Local Authority may need to offer transport to school on a temporary basis until the appeal outcome.

If the Local Authority doesn’t provide an efficient appeal system, or if you feel the appeal result was unlawful, you can make an application to the High Court for Judicial Review.

Your child may be eligible for Legal Aid if Judicial Review is required.


UK Government. (n.d.). Free school transport. Retrieved from

Department for Education. (2023, November 3). Free school transport explained: eligible for free travel. Education Hub. Retrieved from

Sarah Woosey Profile Picture

Sarah Woosey

Interim Head of Education Law

Areas of Expertise:
Education Law

Sarah re-joined Simpson Millar in 2018 having previously trained at the firm before spending a number of years working for a different national firm. She has a number of years’ experience in a range of Education Law and Social Care issues and has focused particularly on getting suitable education and/or services for children and young adults with a wide range of Special Educational Needs and/or disabilities.

Get in touch with the UK's Number 1 Education Law team today!

Fill in the form below to get in touch with one of our education law team, or call our team today on: 0808 239 9764

This data will only be used by Simpson Millar in accordance with our Privacy Policy for processing your query and for no other purpose