Government publishes updated school transport guidance

3 mins read

Thursday 13 July 2023

Tags: school transport, guidance, school transport campaign

The Department for Education has finally published its revised statutory home to school transport guidance for children of compulsory school age in England.

This follows Contact’s School Transport Inquiry, which found half of local school transport policies we reviewed contain unlawful statements. The Secretary of State for Education at the time agreed to improve the statutory guidance to stop this practice.

This campaign success was widely welcomed by the parents, parent carer forums, and other charities.

How has the statutory guidance changed?

While legislation on home to school transport has not changed, we hope the revised guidance will better support local authorities in meeting their statutory duties and help parents understand their rights.

Working together with the DfE, we have sought to improve the guidance by:

  • Revising the wording and structure of the guidance to ensure it is as clear, concise and easy to understand as possible.
  • Including examples of how the statutory duties apply in practice. For example, the section on journey times includes an example of a local authority reconsidering a route change where there is significant impact on disabled children.
  • Adding a home to school transport policy checklist that local authorities can use when drafting their own policies.

Our view on the updated guidance

We welcome the section on benefits and allowance. This makes clear that being eligible for Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or having access to a Motability vehicle is not relevant to a disabled child’s eligibility for free travel to school (except as evidence of their disability). We are also pleased about the clarification that mileage allowances must cover two return journeys a day for parents.

The specific section on behaviour and children with SEND is a welcome addition. Our helpline team get many enquiries where children have had transport withdrawn for behaviour linked to a disability, with no reasonable adjustments put in place.

In the independent travel training section, it is useful to have clarification that the local authority must not withdraw transport if a parent refuses permission or a young person is unable to complete the training.

However, some significant concerns remain. One example is in the section on accompaniment, where the onus is put on parents of teenagers to accompany them on foot or to arrange someone else to do that.

We will monitor the implementation of this revised guidance and continue to campaign on school transport.

Looking for school transport advice?

Need advice on school transport?

Take a look at our school transport webpages which explains your rights and entitlements, including:

  • Which children are eligible for free school transport.
  • What sort of transport can be provided.
  • How to apply for school transport.
  • How to challenge a school transport decision.
  • Your child’s rights post-16.
  • Independent travel training.

Join our school transport Q&A on 3 August

Join us on Thursday 3 August between 10 – 11:30am for a special Q&A about school transport for families in England.

This session will be held in our closed (private) Facebook group, when you can ask our education experts any questions you may have about securing school transport for your child or challenging existing arrangements.