Some deaf children in Wales will be entitled to free home-to-school transport from their local authority (LA).
LAs have a duty to provide eligible learners of compulsory school age (5–16 years) with free home-to-school transport when they attend the nearest suitable school.
Your child’s eligibility for transport will depend on:
- if their home-to-school journey is longer than the set walking distance
- their special educational needs (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.
The 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 attending primary school
- three miles for pupils attending secondary school.
Any journey longer than the set walking distance will mean a child is automatically entitled to help with transport.
The walking distance should be measured by the ‘shortest available route’. A route is considered to be available if it’s safe for a learner without a disability or learning difficulty to walk the route alone or with an accompanying adult if the learner’s age and levels of understanding requires this.
If your preferred school is beyond the set walking distance but the LA thinks that there’s a suitable school which is nearer, it doesn’t have to provide transport.
LAs must consider a pupil’s SEN, even if they don’t have a statement of SEN, when deciding which is the nearest suitable school.
Suitable schools for pupils with SEN are often further away than the nearest local school and a high proportion of pupils with SEN will be entitled to free transport.
The transport requirements of pupils with SEN or a disability will depend on individual circumstances and the route they must travel. If a pupil can’t walk to school because of the nature of their SEN or disability, the LA must provide free home-to-school transport even if the distance is less than the set walking distance.
The Special Educational Needs Code of Practice for Wales sets out the issues to be considered by LAs when providing transport for pupils with a statement of SEN. LAs should review a pupil’s entitlement and transport needs on a regular basis. For statemented pupils, this might be carried out as part of the annual review, even if transport isn’t mentioned in the statement.
Note: A new system for supporting children and young people with additional learning needs in Wales is being implemented from 1st September 2021. In time, all current support plans (including Statements, IEPs and LSPs) will be replaced with Individual Development Plans (IDPs).
Find out more about the changes in Wales on our page Additional learning needs (ALN) in Wales. We will update the website with more information on the new system in Wales shortly, in the meantime see Written Statement: Additional Learning Needs and Educational Tribunal Act 2018 Implementation.
Find your local policy
LAs should have a policy on home-to-school transport for pupils with SEN and disabilities. The policy should be available on the LA’s website, or you can contact your local authority and ask for a copy.
Read the law
Download a copy of Learner Travel Statutory Provision and Operational Guidance for more details, or to help you argue your case that your child should be entitled to free home-to-school transport.
BSL signs to support taxi drivers and escorts
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.