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Under 16 Education travel policy

Is my child eligible for travel assistance? 

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Children from reception up to year 11 are eligible for home to school travel assistance if they meet the following criteria:

  • they live in Staffordshire and also,
  • live over walking distance from the school where they are registered and it is their catchment area school for transport purposes (as decided by Staffordshire County Council - this can be found using our school route search facitlity), or it is the nearest suitable school with places available; or 
  • live under the walking distance but the child’s learning difficulty or disability means they cannot be reasonably expected to make the journey safely to the nearest suitable or catchment school, even when accompanied.

Parents/carers are responsible for making any arrangements for their child to be accompanied if necessary. Generally, we do not consider work or other childcare commitments as a reason for parents not to accompany their child themselves, or to make their own arrangements for any accompaniment, if required.  

There is an additional entitlement for travel assistance to low income pupils in years 7 to 11.


What is a suitable school?

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A ‘suitable’ school is one which provides education appropriate to the age, ability, aptitude and sex of the pupil, and any special educational needs that the pupil may have. This could be within or outside of Staffordshire, a two or three tier school, and a faith or non-faith school. The fact that a school does not offer a particular subject or specialism does not make it unsuitable. 


How do you decide which is the nearest school with a place available?

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Following Department for Education guidance, when considering which is the ‘nearest’ school we will check to see if a place would have reasonably been available at the school for the child at either -

1. The point that they moved address or school (where they move during the academic year) or

2. The point that the school place was offered for them to join the school in September as part of the usual admissions round (e.g., Reception starters, transition to secondary school in September) we will check if the child would have likely been offered a place under the school’s admissions arrangements. 

3. if you have moved address since joining the school, we wil check if the school would have been likely to offer a school place at the time the move took place.  

This will apply regardless of how long after the pupil started at the school the transport application is received. If a parent did not make an application for a nearer suitable or their catchment area school but would likely have been offered a place had they applied, then it will still be considered as the ‘nearest’ or catchment area school under the transport policy.

If a parent rejected an offer of a place at any nearer school, the nearer school is still considered as ‘suitable’. When a parent chooses a school, which is neither the catchment area or nearest school, or to which there is no entitlement under low-income grounds, they remain responsible for arranging and funding their child’s travel to school as they feel is necessary. 

Do you provide home to school travel assistance for any other reasons? 

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Assistance may also be provided if:

  • a pupil lives below walking distance from the nearest or catchment school, but the route has been declared unavailable for a pupil accompanied as necessary, and there is no other alternative route below the walking distance. Parents/carers are responsible for making any arrangements for their child to be accompanied if necessary. Generally, we do not consider work or other childcare commitments as a reason for parents not to accompany their child themselves, or to make their own arrangements for that accompaniment, if required.  
  • under the low income criteria for income assessed travel assistance for secondary age pupils;
  • when attending the closest or catchment school and a medical condition or disability prevents the pupil from making the journey even when they are accompanied.

If you are not eligible there are other alternatives.

Are nursery age children eligible?

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There is no eligibility for free travel assistance for children under statutory school age.


Exceptional circumstances

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Please note that any applications made due to individual family work commitments, childcare arrangements or convenience to parents are generally not considered exceptional circumstances on their own for travel assistance to be provided outside the policy. 

If you believe there are exceptional circumstances that should be considered, then you should make an application and must provide details and any relevant evidence when applying. Those with an Education, Health and Care Plan who wish to apply under exceptional grounds need to use a different form.

If we agree to offer travel assistance as a concession to our usual travel policy due to exceptional circumstances, this may cover some or all of the costs involved. 

Applications for pupils in years 10 and 11 will receive a higher level of consideration but we consider each application on its own merits and al the circumstances and supporting evidence provided. There is no guarantee that we will provide assistance for any particular case. 


What is the walking distance used?

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Walking distance for the purposes of the home to school travel policy is:

• up to 2 miles for children in year 6 and below

• up to 3 miles for children in year 7 to year 11

Note - Special consideration will be given to pupils who are 0.005 miles or less below the walking distances stated above.


How is the walking route calculated?

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We measure the distance using the shortest walking route from your child’s home address and calculate the location of a home address using the property seed point as defined by the National Land and Property Gazetteer. We measure to the nearest open gate to the main registered base school site (or if no gate details are held, we will use the school's location). When a school has ‘split’ sites it is their responsibility to arrange travel between or to/from any other sites – we will only consider travel to and from the main base address/base location as held by the Department of Education.  

Eligibility is decided based on the catchment areas, school gates and age ranges, road and pathway network held at the time on the local authority’s geographical information system (GIS) and the route is measured down the middle of the road. The route and distance may change over time as this road and pathway network is updated by Ordnance Survey as new gates, roads and paths may be added or old ones removed. We will use the calculated shortest walking route to decide which is the closest school (or 3 closest when under low income grounds). We will then use the calculated shortest available walking route distance (if this differs) to decide if travel assistance should be provided under the home to school travel policy.

Please note: a brother or sister or previous occupant of your property may have got help with travel in the past. This does not guarantee that we will agree future travel assistance requests as each application is considered at the time of the application being made. 

At what times of day will assistance be provided?

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We will provide assistance for one return journey at the beginning and end of the normal school day to match the school governing body approved session times.

It is your responsibility to make any necessary arrangements for your child's transport:

  • for any other times
  • to or from any other location

In the event that we have provided free travel assistance in error, the service will be withdrawn giving notice which we consider reasonable in the circumstances.

What type of travel assistance be provided? 

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Travel assistance will take the form of one of the following:

  • A pass for public transport (by bus or train). Pupils may need to change vehicles to complete their journey. For students with learning difficulties and disabilities we may offer independent travel training to help them to use public transport
  • A payment for you to make your own travel arrangements (a mileage allowance or personal travel budget).
  • A place on a school bus or other vehicle hired by us. Pupils may need to change vehicles to complete their journey.

We will decide what type of travel assistance is provided based upon what is most appropriate, suitable, and cost effective. We may change the type of help provided over time. Please note: the Council’s normal practice is to add and remove students from contracted routes without consultation with parents, but for SEN pupils we would advise the school before the change takes place. 

The Authority may withdraw travel assistance where it has made every reasonable effort to provide free travel and the child’s behaviour has created a safety hazard to themselves or others or amounts to a persistent or serious abuse of the system. Parents will then be required to make their own travel arrangements. The action taken will be confirmed with the school and bus operator. Parents will be required to pay for any damage caused and the Police may be informed. 

Generally, all children may be required to walk up to one mile to or from a designated pick up/drop off point or public transport. It is for parents to decide if a child needs to be accompanied on that journey, and make any arrangements they consider necessary. 

If you disagree with the type of travel assistance offered, you have a right to request a review.


What is the difference between a personal travel budget and a mileage allowance?

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Assistance may be in the form of a personal travel budget if the pupil has a “special transport need”. A “special transport need” goes beyond what most pupils of a similar age would need in order to make the journey and is one where the pupil’s additional needs or disabilities mean that they –

  • Would need to use a wheelchair or mobility scooter to make the journey; or    
  • They require a specialised vehicle or specialist seating (use of harness or restrain for example); or 
  • Their sensory, physical, medical difficulties or challenging behaviours place them or others at serious risk of danger during the journey to school, even if accompanied; or
  • Are likely to require personal care or medical intervention during their journey; or
  • Require additional bulky equipment to be transported with them (such as walking frames, oxygen etc that could not be easily carried by the pupil or their accompanying parent/carer); or need to take something beyond that which could be carried by accompanying parent/carer if under distance, or could not be accommodated onboard a mainstream coach/minibus if over distance; or 
  • Cannot share transport with other children because of their additional needs or require the support of a passenger assistant to complete a vehicle journey to school; or  
  • Their needs mean that whilst the pupil can generally walk if accompanied, the distance or time required for their particular journey to school would trigger or exaggerate their additional needs or medical issues. 

There may be other circumstances that the parent considers relevant that are not detailed here, and these will be considered on an individual basis. 

When deciding on whether we consider there to be a “special transport need”, we will consider supporting information from educational settings and professional medical evidence and opinions (not parental views) along with any information gathered as part of the EHCP assessment process. We may ask parents to provide further medical professional supporting information to help us make our decision.

If eligible, a personal travel budget may be offered at 60p per mile for four journeys (two return journeys) per day, usually paid monthly in advance. The number of miles paid will be calculated to 2 decimal places using the shortest driving route (avoiding toll roads) in Google Maps at the time of day the morning journey would be made. In exceptional circumstances, for pupils with particularly specialist individual transport needs, we may offer a bespoke budget based on those needs. Those needs must be demonstrated by providing professional supporting information from a school, hospital, consultant, or specialist support service which includes their professional opinion of the child’s needs and how they affect the type of transport required.

If a pupil has no “special transport need” and is eligible for travel assistance because the distance between home and school is above the walking distance, a mileage allowance may be offered. In this instance, a mileage allowance may be paid at 45p per mile for four journeys per day, usually paid at the end of each term. The number of miles paid will be calculated to 2 decimal places using the shortest driving route (avoiding toll roads) in Google Maps at the time of day the morning journey would be made. This rate is much higher than the HMRC’s advisory fuel rates. 

In all cases, payments may be reduced or reclaimed based on a pupil's school attendance.  Please note: if there are two or more children from the same address attending the same school or same site where we have agreed to a mileage allowance or personal travel budget, we will usually only pay one allowance as we would expect the children to travel together.

When will free travel assistance not be provided?

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The following are some examples of when free travel assistance is unlikely to be provided:

  • to/from breakfast or before or after school clubs or activities
  • to/from work experience, taster or open days
  • to/from part-time provision off the school site organised by the school e.g. to vocational classes at a college
  • movement between educational establishments/sites
  • to/from temporary addresses
  • to/from childminders, friends or other family members addresses
  • to students on exchange visits. The receiving family are responsible for arranging and paying for any transport required
  • to/from dental, clinical, medical or hospital appointments
  • at a differing time due to detention or after school activities
  • due to parental work or childcare arrangements
  • to/from any site other than the registered main base of the school at which the pupil is registered
  • due to family financial circumstances except where the income assessed criteria are met
  • from more than one home address for ‘split’ familes


Can my child be picked up from or taken to an alternative location or from two different addresses?

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We provide free travel between your child’s permanent home address and their registered school. Home to school travel assistance will not be provided to a school at which your child is not a registered pupil. There is no requirement to consider or provide travel assistance from multiple addresses. We would not provide travel assistance to or from other addresses (including to other family member's or childminder's addresses) for reasons of childcare or parental work arrangements.

If a child spends time during the school week at more than one address, it is the main address i.e., the one held by the school and that proof can be produced showing it is registered for the purpose of claiming child benefit, from which eligibility for free travel assistance will be assessed. If these two addresses differ, we will consider the address held by the school as the main address. Only in very exceptional circumstances may we consider entitlement to travel from any other address. 


What if I move house and my child is currently receiving home to school travel assistance or will require it in future?

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We would expect a family to consider the implications on the journey to school when moving address. If your child already receives travel assistance and you move, you must:

  • contact your SEND Key Worker if your child has an Education, Health and Care Plan

If they don’t have an Education, Health and Care Plan you should -  

  • let your school know the new address;
  • return the travel pass to the Transport and Connected County team (will need link to contacts wherever they are going to be)
  • if your child is now attending the catchment or nearest suitable school with a place available for your new home address and you live beyond walking distance, make a new application for help with travel.
  •  if your new address is within Staffordshire, your move was sudden and due to exceptional circumstances, and your child was attending the catchment or nearest suitable school for your last address (but it is no longer the catchment or closest school for the new address) we may consider offering help with travel to continue to attend the same school. Make an application and attach evidence of what you consider to be your exceptional circumstances.

Please note: Applications for pupils in years 10 and 11 get a higher level of consideration but we consider each application on its own merits. We consider all the circumstances and supporting evidence provided. There is no guarantee that we will provide assistance for any particular case.

What if my child changes school?

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If your child moves to another school other than due to a house move, we generally will not offer help with travel unless the new address meets the general distance criteria, or the low income travel criteria for secondary age pupils.

Moves to alternative establishments

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If a child moves to another school or educational establishment other than due to a house move, travel assistance would not normally be offered unless the ‘General eligibility criteria’ or ‘low income’ criteria are met.If a child has been placed into an alternative establishment for provision of their education (for example, a Pupil Referral Unit) the service responsible for the move should consider if travel assistance will be offered and make any necessary arrangements. 

Dual-registered children including managed moves and off-site directions

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If a child becomes ‘dual registered’ for example as part of a managed move or an off-site direction, we expect that the parents and the school or service arranging that placement would consider and agree how the journey would be made to the secondary learning establishment. Should the secondary placement then become the main registered base for the pupil, travel assistance would only be provided if the general criteria (nearest suitable or catchment school) or low-income criteria are met.  

Moves due to claims of bullying

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If your child has moved school because of claims of bullying, we will consider providing travel assistance if you provide:

  • • Written confirmation from the headteacher of the original school that they made all efforts to address the issue. They must confirm that it is in the best interest of the child that they should transfer to a new school; and
  • • Written recommendation of a school transfer from at least one other professional. This could be an education welfare worker or educational psychologist; and
  • • The school your child moves to must be the next nearest school to the home address with an available place, and if they live over the walking distance from the school.

We consider each request on its own merits. We will take into consideration any extra costs involved. There is no guarantee that travel assistance will be provided. 

What happens when my child goes into year 7 at middle school?

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Children attending their catchment or closest middle school who live between 2 and 3 miles from the school will have free home to school transport during years 5 and 6. We would withdraw their travel assistance at the end of year 6 because they will no longer be above the 3 miles distance criteria applied from year 7 onwards (unless it has been given due to the pupil’s needs).

What if my child has to repeat a year?

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Pupils who repeat a year will be considered for travel assistance as if they are a year younger.

Raising the participation age (RPA)

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Young people must now continue in education or training until they reach 18.This change does not mean that free travel assistance will be provided beyond year 11 as they do not have to stay at school.For example, they can choose to:

  • • Work full time and study part time.
  • • Be involved in part time training whilst volunteering.
  • • Continue full time study at school or college.

Are there any different arrangements for children with an Education, Health and Care plan (EHCP)?

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A child or young person with an EHCP is not automatically eligible for home to school travel assistance. 

If the pupil is below the walking distance limit and is able to safely walk to school (accompanied as the parent considers necessary) then they are not eligible for travel assistance. Parents/carers are responsible for making any arrangements for their child to be accompanied. Generally, we do not consider work or other childcare commitments as a reason for parents not to accompany their child themselves, or to make their own arrangements for that accompaniment, if required.  

For a child with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP), the school named in a child’s plan will usually be considered their nearest suitable school when assessing eligibility for travel assistance, subject to the exception set out below:

  • • Where a parent of a child with an EHCP would prefer their child to attend a school that is further away from their home than the nearest school that would be able to meet their needs, the local authority will consider whether transporting the child to the preferred school would be incompatible with the efficient use of resources. This will involve comparing the cost of home to school travel to both schools and deciding whether the educational benefits and other advantages that may be provided for the child by attending one school are greater than any additional costs that may be incurred.  This decision will be carried out by your Key Worker as part of the EHCP process.
  • • If we decide that providing travel to a parent’s preferred school would be incompatible with the efficient use of resources, then we may name the nearer school. Alternatively, parent’s preferred school may be named on the EHCP on the condition that the parent arranges the travel or provides some, or all, the cost of the travel. Should you have any query regarding the named school within your child’s EHCP, please contact your Key Worker.

How do I apply for home to school travel assistance for my child?

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If having read the information above you believe that your child is eligible for home to school transport assistance under the distance criteria, please view the how to apply page. Applications under low-income grounds use a different application form.

Any applications for assistance for pupils with an EHCP should be made using a SEN form. 

Different arrangements apply for post 16 students.

Data protection and fair processing

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Any personal data collected through your application for travel assistance or request for a review or appeal against the decision is handled securely and in accordance with data protection legislation. 

We collect personal data including your child’s name, address, date of birth, name of current or previous school, and reasons for a travel assistance request from the application/request that you complete and submit to us. for income assessed applications we would also collect information and evidence of benefits received. The information provided will be used to process your application for travel, to ensure that any travel assistance provided is appropriate and to process any subsequent review or appeal against the decision.

Your application or review/appeal request will be kept for 6 years after processing and will then be destroyed securely.

We will share your data with the educational establishment and local authority services such as local support teams, district inclusion partnerships, and other agencies in order for them to carry out their statutory duties in relation to the provision of education or safeguarding, and the transport provider as necessary. 

In order to carry out a review or appeal of the decision we may also contact any of the following for further information - local councils, other local authorities, housing association or landlord, staff at the previous or present educational establishment, social worker, education welfare worker, local support team staff, specialist support services including Autism Outreach, ASSIST, Visual Impairment Team, Hearing Impairment Team, Adoption and Fostering Service, SEND Assessment and Planning Service and medical professionals for which you provide contact details.  

We always try to ensure that information we hold about you is accurate and up to date. To help us do this please let us know if your child’s details change. 

If you would like further advice on how the information provided is used or have a concern please contact the school admissions service in the first instance. 

Further information on how we utilise your personal data is available on our privacy notice and your data pages

Downloadable version

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The document below is our current full home to school and college travel policy and guidance.



Mainstream school travel


SEN school travel



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