School travel assistance for children under 16
As a parent or carer, you are responsible for getting your child to school. However, some children may be entitled to travel assistance. This depends on individual circumstances such as:
- the age of your child is statutory school age 5-16
- where they live and what distance they have to travel
- the school they attend and whether the route is suitable to walk
- whether they have any special educational needs or mobility issues
- whether they are from a low-income family
- any exceptional circumstances
- Entitlement to travel assistance
- Travel assistance for children on the basis of family income
- Travel assistance for a child with special educational needs and disability (SEND)
- Independent travel training
- Travel assistance in exceptional circumstances
- What travel assistance can provide
- How to apply for travel assistance
If your child is aged between 5-16 (the statutory school age), travel assistance will be provided if:
- the school your child attends is the nearest appropriate school, as determined by the local authority
- the distance between home and school is more than the ‘statutory walking distance’ i.e. the shortest available walking route
If your child is under 8 the statutory walking distance is 2 miles and for children over 8 years it is 3 miles.
A walking route can include public footpaths and is a route that your child can reasonably walk to and from school safely, accompanied as necessary.
If a walking route is unsuitable due to there being no walkway or pathways on a busy road, making the route unsafe, the council may consider other travel arrangements.
If your child is aged between 8 and 16 years and in receipt of free school meals, or if you are in receipt of the maximum level of working tax credit, they will be entitled to assistance with travel if:
- they are attending the nearest qualifying school and
- live further than the statutory walking distance from that school
The statutory walking distances for this purpose are as follows:
- for children aged between 8 and 11 and living more than two miles (measured in the same way as the statutory walking distance) from their nearest qualifying school
- for children aged between 11 and 16 and living between two miles (walking route) and six miles (road route) from their nearest qualifying school
- for children aged between 11 and 16 and attending the nearest faith-based school on grounds of membership of that faith where the home to school journey is more than two miles and not more than 15 miles
Your child may need help to get to and from school or college of further education because of their specific needs.
The council do not automatically give travel assistance to and from school because a child has a special educational need or disability. They will always check to see if a child is eligible on a case by case basis.
Pupils with SEND have the same entitlement to assistance with travel as any other South Gloucestershire pupil on the grounds of distance.
If a child attends a school on parental/carer preference which is not the nearest appropriate school as defined by the council, then assistance with travel will not be available and the responsibility will remain with the parent/carer.
Some children with SEND who have an education health and care plan (EHCP) will have no entitlement under the normal travel to school policies. They will however be considered on a case by case basis depending on the child’s particular needs and disabilities.
If travel assistance is provided, in most cases this will not include the provision of an escort. The council will however consider the specific needs of your child, in specific cases entitlement to assistance may include an escort.
You may be interested in help with travelling and getting around. The council’s travel training team has proven benefits in helping young people to get equal access to education, employment, healthcare, social and leisure activities, without transport being a barrier.
South Gloucestershire Council’s policy is intended actively to encourage young people to travel as independently and inclusively as possible and to develop confidence in travel skills. Access to this training is via referral by schools, colleges or the 0-25 team.
In exceptional circumstances, the council can use its discretion to decide that travel assistance is appropriate. Each case is considered individually. Examples of exceptional circumstances might include:
- pupils with temporary medical problems
- pupils living in emergency (time-limited) accommodation
- pupils with parents/carers who are disabled
There are several options available that the council may consider if your child is eligible. Examples of this include:
- a travel pass, for use on bus or rail
- reimbursement for parents and carers’ mileage
- provision of an escort to walk to and from school
- a cycling allowance
- a concessionary space on a school coach
- Travel Training for children with special educational needs
- a place on hired or contract vehicles i.e. a coach, mini bus, taxi
Hired or contract vehicles will be used only when other options are not appropriate. This is decided by the council on a case by case basis according to certain circumstances for example, because of the nature of the route or the needs of the child.
For information on how to apply for travel assistance refer to our article applying for travel assistance