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Travel assistance to school – what you need to know

Will I be offered free travel to school?

The policies that apply to school admissions and transport to school operate separately. In particular, if a child is offered a place in a preferred school this does not in any way guarantee that assistance with travel will be available. If transport to school is an issue for you when applying for a school, you are strongly advised to telephone South Gloucestershire Council before stating your preference.

It is your responsibility as a parent/carer to get your child to school. You must think very carefully about the distance from home to school and about how your child will travel to school. The majority of children are not eligible for free travel assistance to school.

How do I check if my child is eligible for free travel assistance to school?

You will be eligible for free travel assistance to school if:

  • the child is of statutory school age, and
  • the school attended is the nearest appropriate one as determined by South Gloucestershire Council, and
  • the distance between home and school is more than the ‘statutory walking distance’. The statutory walking distance is two miles for pupils aged up to eight and three miles for those aged eight and over. See Glossary of terms for details of the statutory walking distance and how this is measured

Note: Assistance with travel is provided only at the beginning and end of the normal school day and from one address (the home address).

Arrangements for low income families

Children from families entitled to free school meals or who are in receipt of the maximum level of Working Tax Credit will be entitled to free travel assistance if they are aged between 8 and 11 and live more than two miles (measured in the same way as the statutory walking distance) from their nearest qualifying school. Once eligibility has been confirmed, the local authority considers the pupil to be eligible for the entirety of the school year for which the assessment has been made.

If you do not apply for your nearest appropriate school as your highest ranking preference your child may not be given free travel assistance to any school. You must then accept full responsibility for the cost and arrangements of your child’s travel to and from school for the duration of their primary phase education.

Children with special educational needs (SEN) (non-statemented and statemented) or an education, health and care plan (EHC Plan)

Pupils with special educational needs (non-statemented) have the same entitlement to free travel assistance under legislation or South Gloucestershire policies as any other South Gloucestershire pupil.

Children with Statements of SEN or EHC Plans who may have no entitlement on distance grounds or normal South Gloucestershire policies will be considered under South Gloucestershire Council’s Special Educational Needs transport policy. Free travel assistance is provided to the nearest appropriate school, as defined by South Gloucestershire Council, with regard to a child’s particular disabilities. In specific cases entitlement may include access to a guide escort. In appropriate cases, a guide escort may be provided to assist a child in walking to school, rather than provision of transport.

Will I be offered travel assistance to a faith school?

Children entering faith-based primary schools will not be entitled to free home to school travel even when they are attending on denominational grounds and regardless of the distance from home.

The only exception would be where the faith-based primary school is the nearest primary school of any status to home under the general transport eligibility rules mentioned above.

Parents/carers considering admission to a faith-based primary school are advised to consider the journey involved and how their child will travel to school.

Application process for assistance with travel to school

The details of home to school transport policies are available online at www.southglos.gov.uk/schooltransport. These include information on policies, how to apply, how applications are considered and how to appeal if an application is refused.

Application forms for home to school transport can be downloaded from this site or are available from South Gloucestershire Council on 01454 868008.

Sustainable travel

Where assistance with travel is agreed, South Gloucestershire Council will determine the mode of transport. The council is committed to promoting greater use of buses for school journeys and will seek, as far as possible, to issue bus passes to students. Alongside this, the council works actively to promote walking and cycling to school to help reduce congestion on the roads, encourage greater independence and flexibility and raise awareness of the health benefits of sustainable travel. Where walking, cycling or public transport are not feasible, you may wish to consider car sharing. For further information contact your local school and ask for details of the school travel plan.

You are advised to consider which schools are within walking distance of your home bearing in mind that we cannot guarantee an offer of a place at your nearest school even if you state it as a preference. Remember, if you choose a school some distance away from your home address you are committing yourself to the journey for a seven year period.

Appeals process

If, following your application for help with transport costs, you have a complaint or wish to challenge the outcome of your assessed eligibility for travel assistance, you may appeal to the council using the transport appeals process. Details are provided on the council’s website at www.southglos.gov.uk/schooltransport