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Transport for students with special educational needs

Who's eligible?

For pupils with an education, health and care plan (EHCP) we apply the same general eligibility criteria as other pupils.

We have a duty to make arrangements for travel support up to the end of year 11 in particular specified cases.

Pupils entitled to help with travel would either:

  • live beyond a required walking distance


  • they cannot be reasonably expected to make the journey safely to school (even when accompanied).
  •  In both cases they must be attending the nearest suitable school with places available as determined by us

Please note: having an EHCP or attending a special school or unit does not automatically result in the provision of free travel assistance.

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

Where a parent 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 providing travel assistance for the child to the preferred school would be incompatible with the efficient use of resources. 

They should determine the cost of providing the child with free travel assistance to each of the two schools. If it would cost more to transport the child to the preferred school, they should decide whether the additional cost of providing travel to the parent’s preferred school is incompatible with the efficient use of resources, this will include deciding whether the educational benefits and other advantages the school will provide for the child outweigh the additional cost. This work will be carried out by your Key Worker as part of the EHCP process.

If the authority determines that providing travel to the parent’s preferred school would be incompatible with the efficient use of resources, the local authority may name the nearer school, or name the parent’s preferred school 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 school named within the EHCP, please contact your Key Worker. 

What support is provided?

Staffordshire values improved outcomes that support independence for pupils as much as possible.

We offer:

  • the disabled person’s concessionary pass. A companion pass may be provided for a companion to also travel free of charge. The times that the pass can be used have been extended in Staffordshire for those who are below retirement age. 

Our first offer of travel support would be to use public transport where suitable. We may agree a mileage payment calculated using the shortest driving route. We would calculate this using Google maps, avoiding toll roads.

Please note: we generally provide travel support to and from one permanent home address only.

What do you not provide support for?

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

  • to / from breakfast 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
  • for 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 different time, due to detention or before/after school activities
  • due to parental work or childcare arrangements
  • to / from any site other than the registered main base of the educational institution
  • due to family financial circumstances except where the income assessed criteria are being met 

What are the distance criteria for travel assistance?

The distance criteria are:

  • the child is of statutory school age and in Year 6 or below and lives more than 2 miles from the nearest suitable school
  • the child is of statutory school age and in Year 7 to 11 and lives more than 3 miles from the nearest suitable school
  • the child has a severe, profound or multiple learning difficulty or a disability and they cannot be expected to complete the journey to school safely even when accompanied, regardless of the distance. Please note: it is the parent’s responsibility to arrange for any accompaniment

Please note: Statutory school age is from reception year until the end of year 11.

Any help with travel we provide will be subject to an annual review. The type of travel support or level of support may change to reflect the changing needs of the pupil. Travel support may not be necessary as the child grows older and if they become more independent.

We will take such decisions on an individual basis and will take full account of the child’s needs.

Are passenger assistants provided?

Passenger assistants will be provided if:

  • the child is under 5 years old


  • the child’s disability makes it necessary to provide a passenger assistant


  • the child has an emotional/behavioural difficulty that gives rise to concerns about the wellbeing of the pupil or other pupils or staff during the journey

Schools and parents have a responsibility to ensure that they brief passenger assistants about all the needs of the pupil. 

It is not the passenger assistant’s or driver's role to administer medication for any child in their care, unless it has been agreed and signed off in the child’s care plan.

Is there travel assistance help for short stay respite arrangements?

There is no guarantee that we can meet requests for respite travel. This is because children entitled to home to school transport assistance take priority.

For children at special schools we may provide help with travel between school and respite care but only on the rare occasions where there is an existing contract that we can use at no extra cost. If there are extra transport costs, parents or the organisation providing respite care will need to meet them.

You must put requests for respite transport in writing to Transport and the Connected County. Please give at least ten working days notice.

Is there any post-16 travel support for students with special educational needs?

Once a student is beyond statutory school age at the end of Year 11, there is no automatic entitlement to free or subsidised travel support. We want to support students of all ages in building their independence when accessing school and college and also the wider community. You should consider this as part of your transition planning.

We would not offer help with travel for students with an EHCP if they are able to travel on public transport when accompanied and it is for the student or their parent or carer to make arrangements for this. Work or childcare commitments are not generally considered a reason on their own to not arrange such accompaniment.

Your learning difficulty or disability may mean you are unable to use public transport or cannot make the journey to school or college even when accompanied. We may be able to arrange suitable travel assistance to the nearest suitable learning provider offering the course in such cases.

For full details of the options available to post 16 students please read our post 16 transport statement.

How and when do I apply for post 16 travel assistance ?

Please be sure to read in full the post 16 transport statement before applying to make sure you understand and meet the entitlement criteria.

Parents and young people interested in the post 16 travel the scheme, regardless of whether they are already in receipt of travel assistance currently, should submit an application

An application for travel assistance should be submitted by 30 June 2023. It cannot be guaranteed that eligible applications received after this date will receive travel assistance from the beginning of September and students will be responsible for making their own arrangements, including the financing of those arrangements, until travel assistance is arranged.  Where the student meets criteria, travel assistance will be subject to an annual financial contribution. 

Support for post 16 travel under other circumstances

Students with a journey time of over 75 minutes may be entitled to assistance.  This is in addition to the options and support detailed above and is available to all students but will be of less benefit to those in urban areas.

Where you live in a rural area, you can also provide supporting information you wish to be considered to make your case, for example, the rural nature of your home address and how this affects your journey and why you or your parents/carers are not able to make your own travel arrangements.

Where a student in a rural area does receive post-16 travel assistance from the county council, families will make the same financial contribution as other students in urban areas taking shorter journeys. Those in rural areas may also be entitled to a mileage allowance to the nearest suitable public transport.

*For information, the government has published the 2011 Rural-Urban Classification for Output Areas in England which defines areas into one of four urban or six rural categories.

Good practice from the Department for Education suggests that students may reasonably be expected to travel up to 75 minutes each way. Travel time includes time spent walking to/from stops, waiting times, driving, travelling on college- or school-arranged transport and using public transport or trains (or a combination of these). The 75 minutes does not include the waiting time between arrival at school/college and the general school/college start and end time.

If we agree to assist, this would generally be in the form of a payment of a mileage allowance per day attended for the journey from home to the nearest appropriate bus/train stop, plus provision of a public bus pass or passes. A contribution towards the cost would be required at the same rate as detailed in our post 16 transport statement (for 2023-24 this is £746, reduced to £589 for those who meet the low income criteria).

Applications can be made for travel assistance outside the policy, based upon individual, exceptional circumstances. Should you wish to apply on this basis please make an application using the application form and provide full details of -

  • what you consider are your exceptional individual circumstances and why you consider those circumstances require assistance from the County Council;
  • why you or your parents/carers are not able to make your own travel arrangements;
  • all other relevant supporting information you wish to be considered to make your case (for example the rural nature of your home address and how this affects your journey).  

Please note, in all cases we do not generally consider work, other childcare commitments, or parental convenience as an exceptional reason alone to provide assistance. We also generally do not provide assistance if the learning provider is less than 3 miles and more than 15 miles from the home address (the distance will be measured by Staffordshire County Council using the shortest driving route). The upper and lower distance criteria may be varied due to the needs of the student’s learning difficulties or disability.

Please contact your SEND Assessment and Planning Service (EHC) district office if you have any questions:

If you require support during the application process, please contact SEND Independent Advice and Support Service (SENDIASS)

Your data

Any personal data collected through your application for education travel is handled securely and in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998.

We will use the information to process your application for education travel.

We use personal information about children and families to enable us to provide relevant services to them and to carry out specific functions for which we are responsible.

For more detailed information please see our data information pages.

Do I have the right to request a review for travel assistance decisions?

Parents have the right to request a review of decisions on travel assistance entitlement. The review / appeal process is there for parents and/or young people who wish to challenge a decision about:

  • eligibility for travel assistance including:
    • the distance measurement in relation to statutory walking distances for children and young people up to and including year 11
    • the availability and/or nature of the route for children and young people up to and including year 11
    • transport arrangements offered
    • eligibility to post 16 travel support

For more information on how eligibility is assessed and the review/appeal process, please download and read the terms of reference document below. This document describes how eligibility is assessed and sets out a clear and transparent two stage appeals process (with paper copies available on request) for parents and/or young people who wish to challenge a decision about travel assistance.

Please note:   The transport review and appeal process will only consider the entitlement to travel assistance, not the suitability of the named school or placement. Work to determine which school to be named will have been carried out when the EHCP is produced, and should you have any query regarding which school has been named, this should be discussed with your Key Worker.

During the review or appeal process you are responsible for arranging and funding any travel until your case has been considered.

The responsibility to supply any supporting information for an application, review or appeal rests with the applicant.  This will include information from outside agencies, which the applicant feels supports their request. However, if the parent can demonstrate that they are reasonably unable to do this, then the authority can take steps to try to locate this itself to ensure it has access to this information but this may cause a delay in dealing with your appeal.  Please be aware the authority but may be limited as to what information it can obtain due to the Data Protection Act.

How can I request a review?

If you wish to request a stage 1 review, please complete the online form below within 20 working days of travel assistance being refused. The outcome of your review request will be communicated to you within 20 working days of receiving it.

During the review / appeal process you will be responsible for making your own travel arrangements, including the financing of those arrangements. If, at any stage during the review and appeal process, the decision not to provide travel assistance is overturned, only then will the Local Authority become responsible for putting appropriate travel assistance in place and for funding it once travel arrangements have been made.

You may wish to contact the SEND Independent Advice and Support Service who will help you to express any views you may have and provide you with relevant advice. They are an impartial and confidential service who can be contacted on 01785 356921

Include all recent supporting evidence (no more than 6 months old) which you consider supports your appeal. Letters simply of ‘support’ without additional evidence (e.g. medical professional’s report) are not sufficient.  We will consider the information you provide when making our decision. We will not generally seek extra information for confirmation of your views you have sought from schools, doctors, other professionals, etc.  Please ensure you have all the additional evidence ready to submit before you proceed as you will be asked to upload any information before you submit the form and ensure you included all pages of a document.

View more information about requesting a stage 1 review / appeal.

What do I do if my appeal is unsuccessful?

If you are unsuccessful at stage 1, we will inform you in writing how to request a stage 2 review. You should request a stage 2 review within 20 working days of the stage 1 review outcome.

Please note: that if you have been unsuccessful, further review and appeal requests would not be accepted in the same academic year unless there has been a significant material change in your circumstances or you are able to provide new supporting information for consideration. 

Who provides travel assistance during the review or appeal process?

During the review or appeal process you are responsible for arranging and funding any travel until your case has been considered. We only become responsible for arranging travel assistance once it has been decided the child or young person is eligible and for funding it once travel arrangements have been made.  

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