Some deaf children in Northern Ireland will be entitled to free home-to-school transport from the Education Authority (EA).
If you have a concern or complaint about your child’s education it’s important to know who to speak to about it.
Who you complain to and how complaints are handled depends on what you’re complaining about. For example, complaints about special educational needs (SEN) are handled differently from complaints about how the school is run.
The EA has a duty to provide pupils of compulsory school age with free home-to-school transport when they attend the nearest suitable (grant-maintained) school, if they meet eligibility criteria.
Children below compulsory school age aren’t eligible for help with transport, even if they’re already in a reception class.
Your child’s eligibility for transport will depend on:
- if their home-to-school journey is longer than the set walking distance
- their SEN or disability and if this means it’s unreasonable to expect them to walk to school
- the suitability of the walking route for a child of their age or capability.
he set walking distance is the distance between home and school that the Government thinks a child should be able to walk:
- two miles for children under 11 years old
- three miles for pupils aged 11 and over.
Any journey longer than the set walking distance will mean a child is automatically entitled to help with transport.
Distance is measured along the nearest available and suitable route your child could use.
If your preferred school is beyond the set walking distance but the EA considers that there is a suitable school with places available which is nearer, it doesn’t have to provide transport.
If your child has a statement of SEN, the general arrangements described above might not apply. Children with statements will have had the decisions about that their school placement, including their entitlement to free home-to-school transport, made by the EA when their statement was written.
The EA has a discretionary power to provide home-to-school transport to a child with a statement who is attending an independent school. The EA has to balance this power with using funding and resources efficiently.
The EA website has more information on school transport and details of how you can apply.
Download a copy of Circular 1996/41 - Home to school transport.
If your child goes to school by taxi or with a pupil escort, we have created videos with BSL signs to help the driver or escort communicate with your child. With thanks to Frank Barnes, Hamilton Lodge and RSD Derby for their support.
Spectrum offers an online course in Safeguarding and Awareness for Home to School Transport Teams which includes a section on deaf awareness for drivers and escorts.