Funded school transport assistance
1. Free school travel assistance
Buckinghamshire Council provides free transport to and from school for some children based on national law and the council’s home to school transport policy. Your child may be eligible for free transport if one of the following applies:
- You live beyond the statutory walking distance to the nearest suitable school for your child
- There is no safe walking route for your child to get to school
- Your child has special educational needs (SEN), a disability or a mobility difficulty
- You are a low income family where extended rights apply.
Please be aware that most children do not qualify for free transport and parents are therefore responsible for making their own travel arrangements and meeting the cost. If your child is not eligible and you wish to pay for a school bus seat, you can check whether a suitable place is available on a commercial school bus route or through the council’s Spare Seat Scheme.
Full details of eligibility to free school transport services can be found in our home to school transport policy.
Distance to school
Free home to school transport is available if your child:
- is between 5-16 years old (of statutory school age), and
- is attending their nearest suitable school (see definition below), and
- lives further away from the school than the statutory walking distances (2 miles for pupils under 8, and 3 miles for those aged 8 and above). The distance to school for school transport purposes is based on walking/driving distances, not a direct line on a map as used for deciding the nearest school.
Nearest suitable school
The nearest suitable school is the nearest school with places available that provides education appropriate to your child's age, ability, aptitude, gender and any special educational needs they may have. This does not include private schools.
For transport purposes, the nearest school to your home address is the closest school calculated by road. To be eligible for free school transport, you should always express a preference for the nearest suitable school on your application.
You don’t have to name the nearest suitable school as your first preference on the school application, but it must be listed as one of your preferences to ensure that if your child cannot be offered a place at that school, then free transport could be provided to the next nearest school.
You do not need to apply for free school transport. As long as the school at which your child has been given a place is further away than the statutory walking distance and you listed any closer suitable schools in your application preferences, we will automatically make an offer of transport for your child which you will then have to confirm with us.
Your child’s transport may be on a council-run or commercial school bus service, but if a suitable public transport service is available we may provide your child with a free bus pass for them to use this service.
If you have a child who is currently eligible for free transport, it doesn’t automatically mean a younger sibling will be entitled to transport to the same school. Distances for transport eligibility are based on a transport network provided by Ordnance Survey. The checker is updated every August to reflect changes in the transport network and these updates to distances can mean eligibility decisions may change.
For a child who is qualified for grammar school, upper/all-ability schools are included when finding the nearest suitable school for transport purposes. That means that if your child goes to a grammar school and there is an upper school that is nearer, we will not provide free transport to the grammar school. However, you may be able to pay for a place on a commercial school bus route or through our Spare Seat Scheme.
Where the walking route to school is unsafe
If your child is at the nearest suitable school and you live within the statutory walking distance, you may be entitled to free transport if we consider that the route to school is unsafe to walk.
We will assess the route at the times your child would be using it and will take into account:
- your child’s age
- whether risks might be less if they were accompanied by an adult and whether that is practicable
- the width of the road and the existence of pavements
- the volume and speed of traffic
- the conditions at different times of the year.
To apply for free school transport because of an unsafe walking route, please contact us.
Last updated: 30 September 2021