Free school transport

Every child has to right to an education but some parents can face difficulties in getting their child to school. In some cases the Local Authority provides transport but it’s important that parents understand, both when applying for school places and appealing decisions, when this applies.

Federico Baglioni, Bishop's Stortford
Federico Baglioni. paralegal within dispute resolution and litigation in Bishops Stortford

Can I get free transport to school?

Schools must provide free transport for all eligible children aged 5-15. In order to be eligible one of the following criteria must apply:

  • you live outside the statutory walking distance of the nearest suitable school 
  • the route is school is unsafe to walk 
  • your child has mobility issues relating to their Special Educational Needs or a disability 
  • you receive the maximum Working Tax Credit 
  • your child is entitled to free school meals.

My child has special needs - what are my rights to school transport?

This varies from local authority to local authority but where they do provide transport, the transport has to be suitable for your child and their needs.  You can look at the government website for local information: This is a complex area, especially when it concerns a child with special education needs, because of the concept of the nearest school. This needs to be a suitable school and this is where conflict can arise between parents and local authorities as to what is deemed suitable. The law is confusing and it can help to get legal advice.

We’re here to help

You’ll find our team of education lawyers friendly and easy to talk to and we understand the ins-and-outs of education law. 

Our education law team is based in:

Cambridgeshire: Cambridge

Essex: BrentwoodChelmsford, and Saffron Walden

Hertfordshire: Bishop's Stortford and Royston 

But we can help you wherever you are in England and Wales

What is the statutory walking distance for schools?

The statutory walking distance is dependent on the child’s age. For children aged between 5 and 8 the statutory walking distance is 2 miles. For children over 8 and up to 16 the statutory walking distance is 3 miles. The distance is measured by the nearest available safe route on foot. If there’s no safe route, children aged 5 to 16 must be given free transport as long as they are attending a suitable school that is nearest to where they live. This is the case regardless of how far away the school is. This can be a very significant point for families with special needs children whose school may be a long way away.

I am not eligible for free school transport but is there still some help available?

You may still be able to get some help towards the cost of travel to school, if you child is not eligible for free transport. This will vary based on your local authority - you will need to check with the Local Authority directly.  For example you may get help towards your child’s transport if you are a low income household, or if you have recently moved house and changing schools would disrupt your child’s education - such as if they are in the middle of GCSEs.

Do college students get a free bus pass?

Students that are in full time further education and under the age of 19, can apply for a free bus or rail pass for their travel to and from college. They must live more than 3 miles from the closest campus offering their chosen course. Students that travel by car can also apply for help towards fuel costs. 

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