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School transport

Photo: Some deaf children will be entitled to help with school transport

Some deaf children will be entitled to free home-to-school transport from their local authority (LA). 

Is my child eligible for help with school transport?

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.
What’s the set walking distance?

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.

What if my child has SEN?

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.

Where can I find out more information?

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 LA 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.