School transport for reception to year 11 children

We provide free school transport to the catchment school or nearest school to your home if it is over the walking distances set out by law.

Applying for free school transport

You do not need to apply for free home to school transport if your child is starting a school and you have applied for a place at one of our schools. We will automatically assess your child's eligibility and will send you a pass if you are eligible.

Is my child eligible?

We provide free school transport to the catchment school or nearest school to your home if it is over the following walking distances:

  • two miles for children under eight years of age;
  • three miles for children aged over eight; or
  • where the route to the catchment or nearest school is not safe to walk accompanied by a responsible adult.

Free school transport is available to eligible pupils from the term in which they are five years old until the end of year 11.

If the nearest catchment or nearest school is full, transport will be provided to the nearest school with places available, in line with our  transport policy (pdf / 1 MB)

Low income

The following categories of children from low income families are eligible for free home to school transport:

  • Children aged eight, but under the age of 11 who are attending their catchment or nearest school and the distance to that school is more than two miles;
  • Children in Years 7-11  who attend one of their three nearest secondary schools and the school is over two miles but less than six miles from where they live;
  • Children in Years 7-11 who attend the nearest denominational secondary school, where the distance is over two miles but less than 15 miles from home; or
  • Children aged five to eleven who attend the nearest denominational primary school, where the distance is more than two miles but less than five miles from home.

A low income family is where children are entitled to free school meals or whose parent are in receipt of the maximum level of working tax credit. 

Eligibility will be assessed each year and may be withdrawn if your benefits change. View more information about financial support for young people aged over 16.

Changes in circumstances

If your child is currently at school and you have moved home, or your circumstances have changed and you believe your child is eligible for free home to school transport, please contact us.

Bus routes

Visit our timetable information page to check which buses serve your area and when.

Further information

The mode of transport provided for eligible children will be either by:

  • school bus services;
  • local bus services; or
  • contracted vehicles (taxis).

In exceptional circumstances, allowances may be paid for parents to use their own transport. Children with specific mobility difficulties may be provided with specialist transport however, each case will be assessed on its own merit.

Transport to denominational schools

Existing arrangements for transporting pupils to denominational schools will change in 2018 for primary aged pupils.

Where services are provided to denominational schools for pupils who are entitled to free home to school transport, there may be some availability for pupils who are not entitled under the policy to purchase a pass. However, this availability will be limited and will be sold on a first come first served basis under the paid travel permit terms and conditions.

The exception to this is children from low income families (children entitled to free school meals or whose parents are in receipt of the maximum level of working tax credit) who will still be eligible for free home to denominational school transport as follows:

  • Children in years 7-11 who attend the nearest denominational secondary school, where the distance is over two miles but less than 15 miles from home.
  • Children aged five to eleven who attend the nearest denominational primary school, where the distance is more than two miles but less than five miles from home. 
  • Where the denominational school is the nearest school to the child's home address and is over the statutory walking distances.

This will be assessed on an annual basis and may be withdrawn if parents' benefits change.

Transport to residential schools

If your child attends a residential special school, free transport or a transport allowance will be provided at mid and full term holidays. For post-16 pupils placed by the local authority at a residential school or college outside of the further and higher education sectors the help offered will be up to 12 return journeys a year for students and their parents or carers usually at a pre-determined mileage rate.

When deciding on eligibility for assistance with transport, the measurement from home to school will be taken from the boundary of the home to the nearest entrance gate (not always the main entrance) to the school following the nearest available walked route (which can mean a suitable footpath or bridle-path). Where a private road or farm track exists, this is included in the measurement. This means that in some cases, pupils living in the same street or even in adjoining properties may not all be eligible for free home to school transport.

When deciding on eligibility for children in receipt of free school meals or if parents receive their maximum level of working tax credit, routes of two miles or less will be measured as a walked route, using footpaths or bridle ways. Routes over two miles will be measured along road routes. This only applies to children if they are in receipt of free school meals or if parents receive their maximum level of working tax credit.

The term 'home' in this policy means the permanent address where the child lives for most of the time. Where children have more than one 'home' (i.e. parents or guardians live separately) eligibility will only be assessed from separate addresses when children live with each parent or guardian for 50 per cent of the school term time, this does not include weekends or holidays. The child must be eligible from both home addresses to qualify.

Routes from home to school are regularly reviewed by the local authority to incorporate newly identified routes into the electronic mapping system used for measuring. If a route from home to school is re-measured and found to be under the qualifying distance, free home to school transport will be withdrawn with a full terms notice.

All the vehicles used subject to regular inspections and the drivers and assistants all have the relevant clearance to work with children.

We take all reasonable precautions to ensure the safety of pupils using the vehicles. 

Pupils are expected to behave whilst travelling and wear a seatbelt, where fitted. Parents are reminded they are solely responsible for the safety of their children both before they board and after disembarking the vehicle and for ensuring their children get to and from the nearest pickup point on time. 

 View our code of conduct for more information (pdf / 214 KB).

You can request a replacement bus pass online if your school or college bus pass has been damaged, lost or stolen. Find out how to request a replacement bus pass here.

Assistance may be provided for children not eligible for free transport if there are spare seats available on existing school buses. Parents will be expected to pay a contribution towards the cost.

There is a two stage appeal process when a parent or carer wishes to challenge a decision in relation to statutory transport:

  • eligibility;
  • transport arrangements made;
  • distance measurement of the walked route; or 
  • safety of the walked route.

Stage one

A request for a stage one review must be made in writing within 20 working days of the initial decision letter. The request:

  • Should clearly state the reasons for the challenge and include any new documentary evidence.
  • Will be reviewed by two senior officers, the original decision may be upheld, overturned or alternative solutions suggested.
  • Where transport assistance is agreed the County Council will make the necessary transport arrangements.
  • Where transport is not agreed, parent or carer will be told in writing and parents who are not satisfied with that decision will be informed of the next and final stage of the appeal process.

Stage two

A stage two appeal must be made in writing by completion of an appeal form within 20 working days of receipt of the stage one response:

  • The appeals form must clearly state the reasons why parent or carers challenge the stage one response and provide any new documentary evidence.
  • Stage two appeals are heard within 40 days of receipt of the appeal by the appeals committee which consists of a small group of elected members of the county council.
  • Parent or carers are able to attend the appeal hearing.
  • Each case is considered on its merits.
  • The committee takes into account the policy guidelines but may recommend departure from those guidelines in exceptional cases.
  • When a decision is made a response will be sent in writing of the decision and the reasoning behind the decision. This decision is final.

Where the person is unhappy with the outcome they will be advised how to escalate it to the Local Government Ombudsman at, www.lgo.org.uk who may investigate to decide whether there has been any maladministration.

For further information please contact the transport team.

A number of changes to the home to school transport policy have been made following consultation.

  1. Removal of the free transport statement for special educational needs and disability (SEND) students, aged post 16 to 18, with an education health and care plan (EHCP) from September 2018, to bring it in line with mainstream transport arrangements.
  2. Recognise SEND post-19 students as adults in education, and identify unmet transport needs in line with the council’s adult social care assessment.
  3. Increase parental transport allowance to 45 pence per mile for all school aged children, when no other transport option is available.

A further 30 day consultation will occur in the near future in relation to the enhanced parental transport allowance, for children with an education health care plan.

If your child is starting school or transferring to secondary school in September and you have applied for a school place then we will automatically assess your child's eligibility.

Get in touch

Use our online form to ask a question or to make an enquiry.  

Enquire about a free school bus pass

Visit the transport to sixth form or college page or the paid bus passes page if you require an alternative pass.

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