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Transport for young people over 16 in England

Thursday 19th October 2017

Our school transport inquiry found local authorities are increasingly reducing or charging school transport for 16 and 17 years often with little notice. These seemingly small changes can have devastating consequences for families.

We have therefore produced new information about school transport for young people over 16 in England to explain your rights.

What the law says

Despite the requirement for all 16 to 18-year-olds to participate in education or training, once a young person ceases to be of compulsory school age (which is still 16) there is no direct entitlement to free home-to-school transport, even if they were previously eligible.

This applies whether your son or daughter stays on at school after year 11, goes to college or does some kind of work based learning.

Your son or daughter's travel arrangements may be reassessed even if they are staying on at the same school. Some local authorities may continue to provide the same transport arrangements, but they may charge for this.

The local council must have a transport policy that sets out how they will support young people aged 16 to 18 to get to school or college, including disabled students. Local authorities should not have a blanket policy never to provide school transport for disabled young people over 16.

Can the local authority charge for school transport?

The introduction of a charging policy may be within the law as far as transport law goes. However, a local council may be failing in their duty under the Equality Act to "advance equality of opportunity for disabled learners" if the charge in their transport policy has a "significant negative impact on the ability of disabled students to access education".

Apart from what we already know about the financial impact of raising a disabled child, transport costs may be higher for disabled students because:

  • Many disabled young people will need to be in education or training longer than this in order to achieve the particular skills or qualifications they need to reach their full potential.
  • Disabled students' nearest suitable course or college may not be the local college. It may be some distance from their home.
  • Young people who cannot access public transport easily due to their disability will not be able to take advantage of the usual subsidised travel schemes that are open to other students - taxis are more expensive.

Challenging decisions

You may be unhappy with a local authority decision on school transport, either because they have decided your son or daughter is not eligible or you think that the transport offered is not suitable.

Your local authority should have a complaints and appeals procedure for transport decisions. This should be published alongside the transport policy.

Our webpage Challenging school transport policies has guidance on how to challenge potentially unlawful local transport policies.

What do we want?

Contact is calling on the government to extend eligibility for free school transport to 16 and 17-year-olds, to reflect the change in the participation age and the ethos of the special educational needs (SEN) reforms.

Help us campaign to achieve change for families with disabled children. Make a donation today.