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Home to School Transport Policy

Eligibility and the application process


2.1. This policy applies to children and young people who are resident in the London Borough of Sutton (or who are Looked After Children in care to the London Borough of Sutton).

Children of pre-school age

2.2. There is no statutory requirement on local authorities to provide travel assistance for children under 5. Parents or carers are expected to take their own children to pre-school provision, and children of pre-school age will not be provided with travel assistance other than in exceptional circumstances.

Children of pre-school age with special educational needs or disabilities

2.3. It is expected that any pre-school child, whether they have special educational needs or disabilities or not, will be transported by a parent or carer, unless there are exceptional circumstances such that it would not reasonable to expect parents or carers to do so.

2.4. However, transport assistance applications will be considered for children below statutory school age where the child already has an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP). In applying this exemption, the London Borough of Sutton must be satisfied that, without such assistance, the child would be prevented from attending an appropriate nursery or early years’ education placement.

2.5. In assessing eligibility for pre-school children, particular attention will be paid to the following criteria:

  • The age of the child;
  • The distance between home and nursery;
  • The special educational needs or disabilities of the child;
  • The reasons for the pre-school education placement; and
  • Whether the child has other siblings of an age where it is not reasonable to expect them to travel alone, who attend school(s) a significant distance away from the provision proposed for the child.


Children and young people of statutory school age (5-16)

2.6. The legal responsibility for ensuring children and young people receive education rests with their parents or carers. Generally, parents and carers are expected to make their own arrangements for ensuring children and young people travel to and from school to guarantee that they attend school regularly.

2.7. Under-16s are eligible for free travel within London. There are different schemes for different age ranges and you may need to apply for an Oyster photocard. Find further information on discounted travel on the Transport for London website (external link).  The London Borough of Sutton expects pupils to make use of the free travel available and applications for this should be made directly to TfL.

2.8. Local authorities have a statutory duty to provide free transport to all pupils who meet the statutory walking distances eligibility criteria set out in the Home to School Travel and Transport guidance:

  • If a child is under 8 years of age and lives over two miles from school; or
  • If a child is aged between 8 and 16 years and lives over three miles from school.

In both cases, the pupil must be attending the nearest suitable school. This is defined as a school which has places available and that the local authority deems to provide education appropriate to the age, aptitude and ability of the pupil and any special educational needs or disabilities he or she may have.

2.9.In addition, for pupils who are entitled to free school meals or whose parents or carers are in receipt of maximum Working Tax Credit, free travel assistance will be provided, if:

  • The nearest suitable school is beyond two miles (for children over the age of 8 and under 11);
  • The school is between two and six miles (for children aged 11-16 where there are not three or more suitable nearer schools);
  • The school is between two and 15 miles and is the nearest school preferred on the grounds of religion or belief (for children aged 11-16).

2.10. Local authorities are also required to make transport arrangements for all pupils who cannot reasonably be expected to walk to their nearest suitable school because the nature of the route is deemed inappropriate.

2.11. For the majority of children and young people, the free travel available through Transport for London’s Oyster card will be considered to be sufficient to meet the local authority’s obligation.


Children and young people of statutory school age (5-16) with special educational needs or disabilities

2.12. The local authority must make transport arrangements for those children who cannot be reasonably expected to walk to school because of their special educational needs, their disabilities, or health and safety issues related to these needs and disabilities.

2.13. There is not a blanket requirement for all children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities to be provided with assistance. Eligibility for transport for these children and young people will be assessed on an individual basis to identify their specific transport needs.

2.14. In such cases, transport requirements such as the statutory walking distances do not apply and will not be considered when assessing their transport needs.


Post 16 Students

2.15. Local authorities also have a duty to facilitate access to full-time education for young people aged 16-19 and this may include assistance with travel in certain circumstances. Details of the support available to those over the age of 16 are found in the Post-16 Policy.


Children and young people with short term difficulties

2.16. Pupils who do not otherwise receive assistance with transport, but who have a short term illness or health difficulty may be eligible for transport assistance to and from school for a limited period.

2.17. Pupils who receive assistance with transport whose circumstances have changed because of a short term illness or health difficulty may require a change to the type of assistance offered.


The application process

3.1. Assistance is provided on the basis of assessed need. Only where a child or young person is assessed as meeting the eligibility criteria set out in this policy will he or she be entitled to assistance with home to school transport. There is no entitlement for assistance with transport before an application has been received and assessed.

3.2. When assessing entitlement for transport assistance for pupils with Special Educational Needs or Disabilities, the Transport Manager will consider the individual needs of each child. This may include taking professional advice from SEND Case Officers, Educational Psychologists, Social Workers, medical officers and teachers and consulting with parents and carers before arriving at a final decision. Consideration will also be given to the pupil’s physical and medical requirements including any disabilities they may have. Assessment may include face-to-face contact with the pupil.

3.3. The following factors will be considered when assessing transport entitlement:

  • The age of the pupil;
  • The distance between the pupil’s home and the nearest suitable school;
  • Whether the walking route would be appropriate for the pupil, either unaccompanied or accompanied;
  • The Special Educational Needs or Disabilities of the pupil;
  • The type of school provision being made for the pupil;
  • Whether the pupil has physical, medical, or communication difficulties that would prevent them from safely using public transport;
  • Whether suitable and accessible public transport is available;
  • Whether the pupil may be vulnerable and at risk of danger if they use public or other transport
  • Whether the pupil would be a danger to other passengers, drivers or the vehicle, if they use public or other transport;
  • The efficient use of resources;
  • Any other individual circumstance.

The above list is for guidance only. It is not exhaustive, and each case will be reviewed on its individual merits.

3.4. Satisfaction of one or more of the criteria does not automatically allow entitlement to transport assistance. Attendance at a Special School does not automatically entitle a pupil to transport assistance. Having an Education, Health and Care Plan does not automatically entitle a pupil to transport assistance.

3.5. Eligibility for transport assistance is primarily determined according to the pupil’s needs. Assessment may take into account the need for transport assistance due to some family circumstances. This will typically be that a pupil has other siblings attending schools not local to the SEN provision offered to them, or is offered SEN provision at a school which is not their local provision. These factors will be considered when determining eligibility for home to school travel assistance and deciding on the type of transport to be provided. Other family circumstances, such as parents and carers attending work or looking after other children, cannot be considered when determining eligibility.

3.6. In order for a child or young person’s entitlement for transport assistance to be assessed, parents or carers must complete the application form accessed via the Local Offer website. Visit the Local Offer Website.   The completed form may be returned in paper or electronic format to the address on the final page of the application.

3.7. Once the completed form has been received, parents or carers will be advised in writing of the Local Authority’s decision. This is typically within 10 working days from receipt, but may be longer if it is necessary to allow time to take professional advice or consult with parents or carers.

3.8. If assistance with transport is agreed, it is the responsibility of the Local Authority to allocate travel assistance which is suitable and appropriate for the needs of the child or young person. The options typically allocated are described in section 5, below.

3.9. The most suitable form of travel assistance will usually be implemented within 10 working days following the decision to agree transport. If a parent or carer does not accept the travel assistance allocated, this can be challenged through the Decision Review Process, outlined in section 4, below. While the review is being undertaken, the parent or carer remains responsible for their child’s attendance at school.

3.10. In general, transport will be agreed for the current academic year only. Where an application is received during the summer term, a decision will be made for the current term and for the following academic year, so long as the student is continuing at the same school.

3.11. Parents or carers must re-apply for transport each year during the Summer term (April to July) to allow for review of a child or young person’s eligibility for transport, and the type of assistance that is required. For example, a pupil may no longer require a passenger assistant or may be ready to start independent travel training. If you do not re-apply, we will assume that you no longer require assistance for your child

3.12. Any interim changes in circumstances may also result in a change in eligibility fortransport assistance (for example, a child’s SEN may have improved, or parents mayhave moved house to be closer to the school).

3.13. If changes take place at any time of the year (e.g. change of placement or home address), transport provision will be reviewed in accordance with the normal criteria. Transport will not be provided solely because a house move has taken the child beyond distance limits for his or her current school.

3.14. It should be noted that if a child is currently eligible for transport assistance, this is no guarantee that they will continue to be eligible in the future. The London Borough of Sutton reserves the right to review transport requirements outside the annual application process in order to safeguard its duty to ensure the efficient use of resources.