The obligations of the LA regarding transport are different depending on the age of the child/young person.
Here’s a summary:
Children of compulsory school age
- LAs have a legal duty to provide free transport for all children of compulsory school age going to maintained schools and colleges of further educations where they do not live within walking distance of their nearest suitable school.
- ‘Walking distance’ is 2 miles for children under the age of 8, and 3 miles over that age. This is distance by the nearest safe route.
- Children with SEN or mobility problems who cannot reasonably be expected to walk to the nearest suitable school are also eligible for transport, even if they live less than 2 – 3 miles from the school. This may be for physical reasons (including temporary mobility problems), but could also be for other reasons (e.g. if they are a ‘runner’, or they would panic if something goes wrong, or they are unable to follow a route or signs etc.)
- If a school is named in Section I of the EHCP without any qualification or condition, the assumption is that it is the nearest suitable school.
- If the LA agrees to place a child at a school in order to meet parental preference but there is a nearer school that could also meet the child’s needs, then they are entitled to refuse to provide transport. In this case, Section I will usually include a condition and the name of the nearer suitable school will also be given.
- Children on free school meals and those with parents on full working tax credit may be eligible for free school transport.
- Transport includes: school buses, taxis (including shared taxis), funding of public transport, or escorts to walk children to school or travel with them on transport. Parents can also transport their own children and be refunded on a mileage basis.
- Transport arrangements must be suitable. The child should be able to reach school without such stress, strain or difficulty that they would be prevented from benefiting from the education provided. Arrangements must also allow the child to travel in reasonable safety and comfort.
- Generally, the maximum each way journey time for a primary school child would be 45 minutes, and for secondary school 75 minutes. However, there may be exceptions, especially if a child attends a special school.
Transport for young people over 16 and children under school age
- There is no statutory right to transport for children who are under or over compulsory school age.
- However, the LA does have a duty to secure provision in Section F of EHCPs. If a child or young person cannot get to school/college because transport is not being provided, then the LA may be in breach of S42 Children & Families Act 2014 and may be challenged on that basis.
Young people of sixth form age
- The LA must prepare a transport policy statement by 31st May setting out the arrangements they consider necessary to ensure young people of sixth form age receive education or training at schools, colleges, etc. For this age group, LAs may request a contribution towards the cost of transport.
Check your LA’s policy on their website. Policy statements must set out proposed arrangements for those with disabilities and learning difficulties, having regard to:
- Needs of those for whom it would not be reasonably practicable to attend school/college if no arrangements are made
- Need to secure that YP have reasonable opportunities to choose between different establishments
- Distances and journey times
- Cost of transport
Young people over 19
- The law states that LAs must make arrangements for transport to enable young adults to attend and receive education at further or higher education institutions.
- Transport must be free of charge.
- A transport policy statement must be prepared annually – check your LA’s website. In considering whether to provide transport, LAs consider age, nature of the route or alternative routes, SEND.