Transport

In this section, we focus on Special Educational Needs and Disability in relation to school and college transport; you may also be eligible in other circumstances (the distance you live from the nearest suitable school, the route to school is unsafe or if you are on a low income).

The Local Offer is where you can find information about the range of local services and opportunities available, including transport arrangements for children and young people with SEND.

Early years

School age children 5-16

Under section 508B of the Education Act 1996 local authorities are under a duty to provide free school transport to eligible children. 

You may be entitled to free transport getting your child (of compulsory school age*) to a qualifying** school if: 

  • your child has special educational needs, a disability or mobility problems or
  • the route your child will take to school is unsafe or
  • you live beyond the statutory walking distance*** or
  • you are on a low income

* Compulsory school age starts the term after your child’s 5th birthday, and ends the last Friday in June of the academic year in which they turn 16.

** A qualifying school is a maintained, an academy (a free school is a type of academy), a pupil referral unit or an Independent school named in an Education, Health and Care plan. An exception would be where the local authority consider there is a suitable school which is nearer to you.

***For children aged over 5 but under the age of 8 the statutory walking distance is 2 miles; for children aged over the age of 8 and under 16 the statutory walking distance is 3 miles. The statutory distance is measured by the shortest route along which a child, accompanied if necessary, may walk safely.

(a full definition can be found in the Education Act 1996 – Schedule 35B)

You only need to satisfy one of the eligibility categories; if your child is eligible due to SEN, disability or mobility problems, the other categories are irrelevant.

For young children below compulsory school age*, there is no direct duty to arrange transport – sections 509A and 508C of the Education Act 1996 give local authorities discretionary power to make transport arrangements.

*compulsory school age starts the term following their fifth birthday

Under section 508B of the Education Act 1996 local authorities are under a duty to provide free school transport to eligible children.

You may be entitled to free transport getting your child (of compulsory school age*) to a qualifying** school if:

•your child has special educational needs, a disability or mobility problems or

•the route your child will take to school is unsafe or

•you live beyond the statutory walking distance*** or

•you are on a low income

* Compulsory school age starts the term after your child’s 5th birthday, and ends the last Friday in June of the academic year in which they turn 16.

** A qualifying school is a maintained, an academy (a free school is a type of academy), a pupil referral unit or an Independent school named in an Education, Health and Care plan. An exception would be where the local authority consider there is a suitable school which is nearer to you.

***For children aged over 5 but under the age of 8 the statutory walking distance is 2 miles; for children aged over the age of 8 and under 16 the statutory walking distance is 3 miles. The statutory distance is measured by the shortest route along which a child, accompanied if necessary, may walk safely.

(a full definition can be found in the Education Act 1996 – Schedule 35B)

You only need to satisfy one of the eligibility categories; if your child is eligible due to SEN, disability or mobility problems, the other categories are irrelevant.

Young people aged 16 to 19

Section 509AA of the Education Act 1996 is where you can find the duty to support young people of sixth form age (which is from the last Friday in June in the academic year in which they turn 16 but under 19). If a young person began the course they are studying at school or college before their 19th birthday, they remain of sixth form age until they complete that course.

The ‘Transport to education and training for young people aged 16 and over’ statutory government guidance says:

The overall intention of the sixth form age transport duty is to ensure that:

• learners of sixth form age are able to access the education and training of their choice; and

• if support for access is requested, this will be assessed and provided where necessary. (6)

This means that legislation gives local authorities the discretion to determine what transport and financial support are necessary.

They do not have to provide free transport to education for young people over compulsory school age. However, they must publish a transport policy statement setting out what reasonable travel choices are available to enable 16 to 19 year old’s to participate in education or training.

As in the case of school-age children, the post-16 guidance also says that transport should enable a young person to reach their place of education or training without such stress, strain or difficulty that would prevent them from benefiting from the education provided.

Young people with SEND may need help with transport because they may not be able to travel to their education setting due to their disability or mobility problems, or when they have to travel further afield to attend a suitable setting.

The local authority must consider individual circumstances before reaching a decision. As they do not have to provide free transport, the offer might include part-funded travel (such as a bus pass/travel card), and/or might include travel training.

Young people aged 19 to 25

Section 508F contains the duty to support Adult learners. (who are aged19+). If they started a course of further education before their 19th birthday, they remain of sixth form age until they complete that course (section 509AA will apply – see dropdown 16-19).

The ‘Transport to education and training for young people aged 16 and over’ statutory government guidance says:

…the local authority is required to make such arrangements for the provision of transport as they consider necessary in respect of:

(a) adults (i.e. those who are aged 19 or over)… and

(b) relevant young adults with an EHC plan (…up until the age of 25) (7)

Where the local authority makes such arrangements, any transport provided must be free of charge. Where the local authority decides not to provide transport arrangements in a particular case, they still have discretion to pay all or part of the reasonable travelling expenses for the student.

In this age category, where the local authority considers it necessary for the young person to be enabled to attend their setting, they must provide this free of charge.

Read the post-16 transport to education guidance (Department for Education)

Making an application for Transport

ADD LINKS TO ENFIELD COUNCIL TRANSPORT ASSISTANCE