Transport support

This page explains who is eligible to be considered for travel support, what this looks like, and how to apply for this.

The information on this page is taken from the Department for Education's statutory guidance on home-to-school travel and transport and the WIASS transport support information sheet.

Transport law and guidance

Section 509(1) of the Education Act 1996 requires a local authority to decide whether it needs to make arrangements for the provision of travel assistance for pupils with special educational needs (SEN), a disability or mobility problems.

If a local authority decides that this is necessary, then it must decide what form of travel assistance is suitable and organise it free of charge.

If a child has special educational needs (SEN), a disability or mobility problems where they cannot reasonably be expected to walk to school, then they are an ‘eligible child’ and are entitled to home to school transport, provided that the local authority has made no suitable arrangements for attendance at a nearer school or boarding accommodation.

Transport frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Common queries about transport for compulsory aged children.

What are the criteria for transport support for children who are compulsory school aged (5 to 16 years old)?

If your child falls into one of these categories then they may be able to get transport support/help from the local authority (LA):

  • Your child lives beyond the statutory walking distance (two miles for those under 8 years old and three miles for those over 8 years old)
  • If your child lives within statutory walking distance, they will still be eligible to transport support if:
    • They are from a low income family
    • Their route to school is unsafe
    • They have special educational needs (SEN), a disability, or mobility problems which means they could not be reasonably expected to walk to school

For further information about eligibility, please visit the IPSEA website.

My child does not have an education, health, and care (EHC) plan, but my child has SEND and we live within 2.5 miles walking distance from school. Does that mean my child is not eligible?

If your child has SEN, a disability, or mobility problems, and they cannot reasonably be expected to walk to school, they are an 'eligible child'. If this applies to your child they may be eligible to receive travel assistance.

My child has an EHC plan. Does this mean they are automatically entitled to transport?

No. Only if your child falls into one of the categories of eligible children, will they be entitled to transport support.

If your child lives within statutory walking distance but can reasonably be expected to walk to school on their own and does not fit within one of the other categories, they will not be entitled to free home to school transport.

This is because the nature of their SEND does not impact on them being reasonably expected to walk.

I think my child is eligible. How would I apply for travel assistance?

You can complete an online application form for home to school travel assistance and send it to the SEND Transport Team in Wandsworth (if you live in Wandsworth).

The form can be completed and submitted online. If you cannot complete the form online, please contact the SEND Travel Assistance team. The team contact details and application form can be found in the link below.

Apply for school travel assistance for children and young people with SEND

What are the possible ways that the local authority may offer travel assistance to my child?

The local authority may offer travel assistance in the following ways:

  • A travel assistance budget that provides you with a set amount of money to help pay for your car mileage or for you to book taxis for your child
  • A taxi service arranged by the local authority
  • A school bus
  • A travel escort (buddy) who escorts your child to school
  • Travel training to provide training to your child to travel to school and back home on their own

How does the local authority make sure that my child travels to school and back home safely and comfortably?

The travel arrangements must enable your child to reach school without such stress, strain, or difficulty that they would be prevented from benefitting from the education provided. It must allow your child to travel in reasonable safety and in reasonable comfort.

Ideally, your child should not be expected to make several changes on public transport. Best practice suggests that a child of primary school age should not travel for longer than 45 minutes and a child of secondary school age should not travel for more than 75 minutes.

Local authorities should also consider the walking distance to access public transport.

Once travel assistance has been approved, the local authority should consider the following:

  • Ensure drivers and escorts are known to you
  • Operators contact numbers are provided to you
  • Ensure stability of staffing arrangements for children who dislike change
  • Encourage schools and transport services to use a home to school liaison diary
  • Ensure that journey times are reasonable to avoid undue stress
  • Enhanced DBS checks for all drivers and escorts
  • Minimum standards of training for drivers and escorts, including training in conflict resolution, safe handling and working with children with medical conditions and/or disabilities, where appropriate
  • Assessment and management of risk
  • Specific measures for children with health needs
  • Specific training for staff and vehicle adaptations for children with mobility needs

How do I appeal a transport support decision with which I do not agree?

The local authority has in place both complaints and appeals procedures for parents to follow should they have cause for complaint about the service or wish to appeal about the eligibility of their child for travel assistance.

Transport appeal template letters

You can download our transport appeal template letters:

Further information on transport support

For further information on transport support, you can: