Local Authorities have a duty to make reasonable travel arrangements for all children who are ‘eligible’. The Local Authority has different duties depending on the age of the child/young person and the place where they are studying.
Children of Compulsory School age
Compulsory School age starts the term following a child’s fifth birthday and ends on the last Friday in June in the academic year in which s/he turns 16. Local authorities are required to arrange free, suitable, home to school transport for children who are ‘eligible’, to their nearest suitable qualifying school.
Eligible children fall within four categories:
- Children with Special Education Needs, mobility difficulties or a disability
- Children who live beyond the statutory walking distance
- Children from low income families
- Children whose route to the school setting would be unsafe.
There is no requirement for the child to have an Education, Health, and Care Plan to be entitled to transport on the grounds of SEN or disability.
For children with EHC plans
If your child has an EHC plan which names just one school in Section I, then your child is entitled to transport to that school because the LA has not made arrangements for them to attend anywhere closer.
Wigan Council's Liberty Programme
Wigan Council provides an independent travel training scheme known as Liberty, which enables students to travel independently to and from school and other social activities. Those who are eligible for the programme will be assessed by someone from the council through a home visit.
The programme enables pupils to develop travel independence at their own pace, and the training covers various topics depending on the needs of the student, including:
- Boarding the correct bus in the right direction
- Buying tickets.
- Recognising and avoiding dangerous situations
- Personal safety
- Road safety
- Following directions
To find out more about the liberty project, please click here.
Young people aged 16 to 19 years
Sixth form age means they are over compulsory school age but under 19. If a young person began the course they are studying at college before their 19th birthday; they remain of sixth form age until they complete that course. The legislation gives LAs the discretion to determine what transport and financial support are necessary to facilitate young people’s attendance. The LA must exercise its power to provide transport or financial support reasonably, considering all relevant matters.
Although there is no automatic entitlement to transport for those of sixth form age, in the same way there is for ‘eligible’ children of compulsory school age, LAs have the discretion to assist with transport arrangements. However, they are expected to target students in particular circumstances (e.g., those with SEN or from low-income families). In addition, the needs of learners with learning difficulties and disabilities should be specifically considered, and the arrangements in place for each group must be documented in the Transport Policy Statement.
‘Adult learners’ are young people over sixth form age – those who are 19 and up (if they started a course of further education before their 19th birthday, they remain of sixth form age until they complete that course).
When considering adult learners, the LA must make “such arrangements for the provision of transport, as they consider necessary” Any transport arrangements provided under this duty must be free of charge.