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Will you qualify?

Eligibility process

Before you apply for a school place, you need to consider how your child will get to school, taking into account any potential transport costs.

At the point when transport eligibility is being considered, the prospect of being able to secure a place at an alternative nearer school must be a real one. We will assess your prospect of gaining a place there regardless of whether you applied for it. Faith schools are included in this process.

Eligibility assessment will be based during the normal school admissions round when school places are allocated. For the 2020/21 Academic Year the secondary school offer day is 2 March 2020 and primary is 16 April 2020. We will not be able to assess your transport application until after these dates. A smaller number of transport eligibility cases will need to be considered during the course of the school year e.g. as a result of families moving to a new area.

Parents/carers should be aware that in some cases the number of places offered at each school may differ from what is stated as the schools formal published admission number (PAN). Further details regarding temporary intake increases can be found on our school admissions page.

Section 2 of the school admissions information booklets highlights the number of applications received and places allocated for the previous year at each school, including the lowest criteria and furthest distance allocated. This may assist you in assessing your chances of obtaining a place at your preferred school.

A child is eligible to receive travel assistance if they are of compulsory school age and fall within the following four categories:


  • A child under the age of 8 is eligible for free transport to their nearest suitable school* if it is more than 2 miles from their home
  • A child is aged between 8 and 16 is eligible for free transport to their nearest suitable school* if it is more than 3 miles from their home

* The nearest suitable school might not be your catchment school if there is a school closer to your home address.

Distance is measured using an in-house mapping system that measures the nearest available route. This will be walking route and for the upper thresholds will be driving route. More information can be found on our school and college transport policies page.

Low income (extended rights)

Your child might be able to get free home to school transport if your family has a low income. That's if your child is entitled to free school meals or you get the maximum level of Working Tax Credit and:

  • they are aged 8 to 10 years, attend their nearest suitable school and it is more than 2 miles from your home; or
  • they are aged 11 to 16 years, and attend one of their three nearest suitable school which is between 2 and 6 miles from your home; or
  • they are aged 11 to 16 years, attend a school that is between 2 and 15 miles from home that has been chosen on the grounds of their religion or belief and, having regard to that religion or belief, there is no suitable school nearer to home 

Post 16 Hardship

There is no duty for us to provide mainstream post 16 transport however we will consider individual cases where 'hardship' or low income can be demonstrated. The post 16 hardship application form can be found on our apply for travel assistance page.

We review eligibility based on low income each year.

Safety of walking routes

Your child will be eligible if they attend their nearest suitable school which is:

  • less than 2 miles from home for children aged under 8
  • less than 3 miles from home for children aged 8 and over
  • and they cannot reasonably be expected to walk there, accompanied as necessary, because the nature of the route means it would be unsafe for them to do so; and
  • there is no reasonable alternative route, within the statutory walking distance, that it would be safe for them to walk 

Your child will remain eligible for as long as the route remains unsafe. Read more about route assessments (PDF, 225KB) , routes deemed hazardous (PDF, 167KB) and the Road Safety GB website.

Special educational needs (SEN)/Disability/Medical

We will make transport arrangements for all children who cannot reasonably be expected to walk to their nearest qualifying school because of their mobility difficulties or because of associated health and safety issues related to their SEN or disability. Disability is defined as a person if they have (a) a physical or mental impairment, and (b) that impairment has a substantial long term effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. A chronic health condition may lead to eligibility under this definition. Eligibility for such children will be assessed on an individual basis in order to identify their particular transport requirements. Read more about SEN/Disability/Medical transport (PDF, 324KB).

I think I will qualify, what do I do next?

Make sure you have read our policy documents and privacy notice, as the school transport policy is different to school admissions, for example admission applications measure distance as a straight line, whereas we measure the nearest available walking route. 

You can apply for a place at any school but your child will only have one nearest suitable school for transport purposes.

That means the nearest suitable school for transport can be different from the nearest school used for allocating places under our admission rules. There is one exception which relates to children aged 11 to 16 from families on a low income.

The application forms can be found on our apply for travel assistance page.  

If you don’t qualify for travel assistance, here are some travel options to consider:

Or you could contact the school or college directly.

Can't find what you are looking for? Visit our School transport FAQ page.

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