Free transport to mainstream schools

Free transport to mainstream schools

About free school transport

We automatically check for transport when placing children. You only need to apply for:

  • low income transport or
  • child or parents with medical or physical conditions.

If you are not sure your child qualifies please visit

For full information, please download the school transport policy on the Transport policies page.

If your child is eligible, they will get transport between home and school at the beginning and end of the school day. This will be either:

  • a ticket for public transport
  • a seat on a hired vehicle

If there is no suitable public transport or hired vehicle and you can arrange travel, we can help with mileage.

We will help with the cost of two return journeys per day. We pay 25p per mile, per family for the distance between home and school.

Travel for siblings

When we are allocating routes, we shall do our best to make sure siblings travel together.

When transport is not supplied

Transport services other than at the start or end of the school day

Our duty is to provide transport to get children to and from school at the beginning and end of the school day. It is the responsibility of parents or carers to arrange and pay for transport at other times. For example, we do not provide transport for:

  • Medical appointments
  • Specific exam timetables
  • Pre-course visits or ‘taster’ days
  • Breakfast or after-school clubs
  • Parents’ evenings
  • Work experience or placement
  • Extra-curricular activities
  • School trips or educational visits
  • Fixed-term exclusions
  • Off- site educational placements

Independent or private schools (including nurseries)

Assistance is not given to children attending schools in the private sector unless the placement has been made by the Inclusion and Special Educational Needs & Disabilities team and transport has been recommended by a designated officer.

More than one home address

We only accept responsibility for the transport of children between their main residence and school. If children have more than one address, a decision needs to be made as to which address the children live. This would usually be where most school nights are spent but may include factors such as where the child is registered with a doctor, where the child benefit is paid to or which address was used when the school place was offered.

Family circumstances

When looking at eligibility for travel assistance, we cannot take the following factors into consideration: parent’s or carer’s working hours, parents or carers taking other children to other schools, or parents or carers looking after other children.

Denominational primary schools

There is no policy to support children attending a denominational church aided primary school for reasons of religion or faith.

Starting transport in September

If your child qualifies for free transport we email you to confirm you want to receive transport.

We send details and tickets during the summer holidays to your home address we have on our records. See Timetable and ticket information for our timetables.

Contact the Admissions team to apply for free transport if:

  • you are not sure if you qualify
  • you did not receive an email by mid-August

If you know someone who didn’t get a school transport email, don’t share your email. They will need to apply to the Admissions team.

Continuing transport in September

Where and when we send new passes

We will send the following to your home address during August:

  • Freedom Passes for travel on buses in East Sussex
  • Travel permits for our hired coaches
  • Rail Key cards

Change of circumstances

If you move address or your child changes school you need to tell Admissions and Transport Team. We will check you still qualify.

Low income assessments

We review low income every year by the end of the school year. Contact the Admissions and Transport Team if you did not get a letter.

Timetable and ticket information

East Sussex Travel permits and timetables

Freedom Passes and public transport timetables

Rail Key smart card

We now arrange for Key smart cards to be sent to you from Southern Rail. We will email you a link where you need to complete your details for this to be completed.

New cardholders will need to activate their card and tickets. Guidance for this is below:

Activating the ticket through the Southern On Track App

If you have a smartphone with NFC (which is used for cashless payments). You can try activating the ticket on the Southern On Track app.

  1. At the dashboard press the menu button
  2. If you are activating the Key card select ‘View/Activate your Key tickets’. If you have already activated the card you can just select ‘Load your Key tickets’.
  3. Tap the card to the back of the phone

 The app doesn’t have to be on the cardholder’s phone, you can do this on any smartphone with the app.

Activating the ticket at a Southern rail station

To do this, touch the Key Smartcard on the smart barrier or card validator (if the station has no barriers).  The card is now ready for use.

This option only works at Southern stations. We recommend using the app if you can.

If you have any issues activating your card please call Southern Customer Services on 0345 127 2920 and select option 4 to speak to an advisor.

Using the rail service

Changes to your situation

You must tell us if:

  • you move address or
  • your child changes school

Email: Admissions and Transport team (contact form) with your children’s:

  • names
  • dates of birth
  • addresses
  • schools

Or call 0300 330 9472, Monday to Friday 10am to 3pm.

Queries about your transport

If you have a query about your transport arrangements, email it to:

Email: Mainstream Transport team (contact form) with your child’s:

  • name
  • school
  • postcode
  • contact details

You can also call us on 01273 335 088.

Please note that July to September is a very busy time, so please only call if your enquiry is urgent or you have no access to email.