Who qualifies for free school transport?

We check for transport entitlement when children are offered a mainstream school. You only need to apply for low income transport, or child or parents with medical or physical conditions. Transport for children with an EHC plan should be discussed with the Assessment and Planning Officer.  

We only provide free transport to a child’s designated school.

A designated school is the school suitable to your child which serves your area. If there is more than one school, it is the nearest suitable school to your home with places.

If we did not offer a place at your nearest or designated school because of the following reasons, you will need to arrange and pay for your child's home to school transport:

  • You did not name it on your application
  • You received a higher preference

Here are some examples to help understand the process:

Child A lives in Forest Row.  Forest Row is in the community area for both Beacon Academy and Chailey School.  The designated school for Forest Row is Beacon Academy, as this is the closer of the two schools.  Child A's parents apply for Beacon, which is over 3 miles away.  Child A qualifies for free transport.

Child B lives in Herstmonceux.  Herstmonceux is in the community area for both Heathfield and Hailsham Community Colleges.  The designated school for Herstmonceux is Hailsham Community College, as this is the closer of the two.  Child B's parents apply for Heathfield, which is over 3 miles away.  Child B does not qualify for free transport, as Heathfield is not the designated school.

Your child will qualify for free school transport if:

  • they are 8 years old or over and live more than 3 miles (4,828 metres) away or
  • they are under 8 years old and live more than 2 miles (3,218 metres) away

We assess school transport when we allocate school places. There is no need to apply. We will ask you to confirm you want us to make the transport arrangements.
We measure distances by the shortest available walking route using our Geographical Information System (GIS).

In all cases we assume your child will:

  • walk with a responsible adult
  • have suitable clothes and footwear (for wet weather or a muddy path)
  • wear reflective bands and carry a torch if needed.

Suitable routes to school include:

  • crossing fields
  • wooded areas
  • bridleways
  • public footpaths
  • public rights of way.

See What do eligible children get?

Contact the Admissions and Transport team for more information.

You may get free transport to school if:

  • your family receives maximum Working Tax Credit or
  • your child is entitled to free school meals

Primary age pupils

Children who are 8 years and over qualify if they are:

  • from a low income family

  • live more than 2 miles but less than 3 miles away from the designated school.

If they live more than 3 miles away, they may qualify under the home to school distance criteria.

Primary church aided schools

We do not provide free transport for children to attend a denominational primary school for religious reasons.

Secondary age pupils

Children from low income families can get free transport to one of the three schools nearest to where they live. The school must be more than two miles but less than 6 miles away. We measure distances up to two miles by using the shortest available walking route. The 6-mile upper limit is measured using roads only.

Secondary church aided schools

Children from low income families who want to attend a denominational secondary school qualify for free transport if:

  • the school is between 2 and 15 miles away

  • it is the nearest school attended for reasons of religion or belief.

Apply for free school transport

Your child may qualify for travel assistance if:

If you are unsure, contact the Admissions and Transport Team to see if you qualify.

Find out about travel schemes and discounts available if you don’t qualify for free transport.

If your child is not on a public transport route you can make an online request for a seat on our contracted transport.

Transport appeals

For advice, see transport appeals.

We may be able to assist with transport if:

  • Your child can’t walk to school or use public transport because of a medical or physical condition. This applies to all children of statutory school age (age 5–16).
  • You as a parent or carer can’t walk with or drive your children to school or use public transport because of long term health condition or disability. This only applies to primary school children.

To receive help, your child must attend the nearest suitable school. We will consider the distance to school. Where the distance is very short or for a child in their upper junior years, we may not agree assistance. We would expect households with two adults to be able to make suitable travel arrangements for their children.

We will need to see medical evidence from your consultant or doctor that is no older than 3 months from the date you apply. They may have a charge for this and you would need to pay any costs.

If we agree help with transport, we will review your case regularly.

Please note that applications take approximately 15 working days to be processed. Please do not call or email us to check on progress until 15 days have elapsed.

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