Parents have a responsibility to ensure that their children attend school regularly. The Local Authority (LA) have a duty under the Education Act 1996 to make travel arrangements, that they consider necessary to help eligible children attend qualifying schools.
Which Children are eligible for Transport Provision?
Children need to be compulsory school age (the start of term following a child’s fifth birthday to the last Friday in June in the academic year in which he/she turns 16
- If your Child attends their nearest qualifying school and this is beyond the “Statutory Walking Distance” which is two miles for children under eight, and three miles for children aged eight to sixteen.
This distance is not necessarily measured by road only; it could be the shortest route which a child, accompanied as necessary, may walk with reasonable safety. It may include footpaths, bridleways as well as recognised roads.
- If your Child is unable to walk to school by reason of their Special Educational Needs (SEN), disability or mobility problems. Individual transport needs will be assessed against a set of criteria taking into account distance, their age, mobility and the effect of their complex needs on their ability to travel.
- If your child is unable to walk in safety to school because of the nature of the route. This includes routes where things like rivers, ditches and the speed of traffic which means that your child can’t walk in reasonable safety even if they are accompanied as necessary. Where the LA conduct a risk assessment, they should take a range of factors into account such as; the age of your child, width of road and existing pavements, the volume and speed of traffic on roads, street lighting and condition of route at different times of the year.
- Pupils from Low Income Families - If your child is entitled to free school meals or you are in receipt of the maximum level of Working Tax Credit.
- Children aged 8-10 years, attending their nearest qualifying school where the distance between home and school is more than 2 miles, but less than 6 miles.
- Children between 11 -16 years may have free school transport to any 1 of their 3 nearest appropriate qualifying schools where the distance between home and school is more than 2 miles, but no more than 6 miles or to the nearest appropriate denominational school on the grounds of religion or belief, where the distance between home and school is more than 2 miles but no more than 15 miles.
Whilst it is your responsibility as a parent/carer to ensure your child attends school regularly, the LA should consider whether it is reasonably practicable for you to accompany the child along the route which would otherwise be considered too dangerous to walk in reasonable safety.
What if I’m a disabled parent?
LA’s would need to consider if your disability prevents you from accompanying your child along a safe walking route. If this is the case, the LA would need to consider what reasonable adjustments could be made, which may include providing free home to school transport.
What are Qualifying Schools?
- Schools providing primary and secondary education
- Community, Foundation or Voluntary schools
- Community or Foundation special schools
- Non-maintained special schools
- Pupil Referral Units
- Maintained Nursery schools
- City Technology Colleges
- If your child has SEN, an independent school will also be a 'qualifying school' if it is the school named in your child’s Statement of SEN or Education Health and Care Plan (EHC Plan).
What is considered to be the 'nearest qualifying school'?
- The school will have places available and provide education appropriate to the age, ability and aptitude of your child and any special needs your child may have.
- The nearest qualifying school may be different for a child with SEN than for other children.
Suitability of Travel Arrangements
Travel arrangements which could be made by the LA include:-
- Provision of a pass for public transport e.g. zero fare bus pass
- Provision of a seat on a bus or mini bus provided by the LA
- A seat in a taxi
Providing the relevant parental consent has been give the LA may also make other arrangements such as:-
- Paying a mileage allowance to a parent for driving their child
- A cycling allowance for the child to cycle a reasonable journey e.g. 3 miles
- The LA arranging a suitable escort to enable a child with SEN to walk a short distance to school in reasonable safety, or catch a local bus instead of making arrangements for a taxi.
For arrangements to be suitable, they must also be safe and reasonably stress free, to enable your child to arrive at school ready for a day of study.
Parents/Carers have the right to appeal against the LA’s decision not to provide transport assistance if they feel there are exceptional circumstances. A Notice of Appeal Form and a copy of Rotherham’s Home to School Transport Policy 2013 can be requested from the Transport Assessment Officer on 01709 822649 or e mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Parents/Carers must submit their grounds for appeal within 20 working days of the original decision. The appeal must also include any relevant medical reports which are no more than 3 months old. This will then be considered by an independent appeals panel within one calendar month from submission.
For more details about Home to School Travel and Transport, please see the Department for Education Website where you can access the Guidance on Home to School Travel and Transport.