Travel and Transport
Transport for child of compulsory school age

Transport for child of compulsory school age:

For a child of compulsory school age, the Local Authority has a statutory duty to make suitable, free, transport arrangements in certain circumstances. (s.508B Education Act 1996). There are resources on the IPSEA website about transport and you may wish to read the

You may wish to read the statutory guidance on transport (PDF)

This gives details of how transport should work for eligible children. There are different categories of eligibility and a child may be eligible under one or more of these categories, which must be considered separately. 

The categories are (in outline): 

  • Children who attend schools beyond the statutory walking distance from their home (the statutory walking distance is 2 miles for children under 8 years old and 3 miles for children of 8 or over); 
  • Children with SEN, disabilities or mobility problems who live within the statutory walking distance but whose SEND or mobility problems mean that they cannot reasonably be expected to walk to their school; 
  • Children whose route to school is unsafe. This category will also include those whose home is within statutory walking distance of their school. The Local Authority should assess the route at the times the child would be using it. They should take into account various factors including the age of the child; whether risks might be less if the child were accompanied by an adult and whether that is practicable; and features of the route itself; 
  • Children from low income families: A child will qualify for eligibility under the 'low income' provisions if he is entitled to free school lunches, or if his parents or carers receive working tax credit at the maximum rate.

Once a child is eligible under at least one of those categories then the LA is under a duty to make 'suitable' transport arrangements to the nearest suitable school unless the LA have made arrangements for him/her to attend a closer school.

In practice, if a LA has named a school in an EHC Plan, then they have not 'made arrangements' for a child to attend a nearer school and so if the LA were to name a school for a child in an EHC plan then, (subject to showing that they were eligible for free transport) this would, effectively mean that the child would be entitled to free transport to that school, which the LA would be under a duty to arrange.

Information on Cumbria County Council's arrangements for the provision of transport can be found on the Local Offer.

Transport for 16 to 18 year olds

When it comes to transport arrangements for those aged 16-17 (and sometimes 18), the Local Authority's duty to provide transport for eligible children stops and becomes a more general duty under s.509AA Education Act 1996. There is also specific statutory guidance dealing with this duty - Post-16 guidance to education and training (PDF)

As the guidance sets out, every Local Authority in England has a duty to prepare and publish an annual Transport Policy Statement (TPS) specifying the arrangements for the provision of transport or otherwise that the authority considers it necessary to make to facilitate the attendance of all persons of sixth form age receiving education or training. This TPS will always be the starting point for a young person seeking transport from the LA. 

Information on Cumbria County Council's arrangements for the provision of transport can be found on the Local Offer.

LAs should have a complaints process through which any decision in relation to transport can be challenged where necessary, and any young person who is unhappy with the decision reached should be able to find details of that complaints process as part of the TPS, which should be published as part of the LA's Local Offer.

Transport for 19 year olds

The LA's duty in respect of 'adult learners' is covered by s.508F of the Education Act 1996. 'Adult learners' will usually be those young people who are over the age of 19, but it is worth noting that if a young person has started a course of study before they reach the age of 19, they will not be considered to be an 'adult learner' until that course is complete and they have started a new one (s.509AC Education Act 1996) 

When considering adult learners, the LA must make "such arrangements for the provision of transport, as they consider necessary" and must do so for 2 purposes - the first of which would be relevant in most cases and is expressed as follows: 

The first purpose is to facilitate the attendance of adults receiving education at institutions— 

(a) maintained or assisted by the authority and providing further or higher education (or both), or 

(b) within the further education sector. 

Any transport arrangements provided under this duty must be free of charge. 

Information on Cumbria County Council's arrangements for the provision of transport can be found on the Local Offer.

Please contact your local Co-ordinator for further information, advice and support regarding travel and transport.

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