Local Authorities are required to arrange free and suitable home-to-school transport for children of compulsory school age who are ‘eligible’ to their nearest suitable qualifying school.
Eligible children is defined under four categories:
- Children with SEN, a disability or a mobility difficulty
- Children whose route to school is unsafe
- Children who live beyond the statutory walking distance
- Children from low income families.
Children with an EHCP will fall under category A.
Compulsory school age begins with the start of term following a child’s fifth birthday and ends on the last Friday in June in the academic year in which s/he turns 16.
A qualifying school is a:
- maintained (publicly funded) school or nursery
- non-maintained special school
- pupil referral unit
- city technology college
- an Academy
- For a child with an EHCP, an independent school can also be a qualifying school if this is the only school named in Section I of the EHCP.
The Home to School Travel and Transport Guidance 2014 provides details on the types of travel arrangements that satisfy the legal duties on Local Authorities.
In respect of ‘adult learners’ (young people over sixth form age, those who are 19 and up; if they started a course of further education before their 19th birthday, they remain of sixth form age until they complete that course), Local Authorities must make such arrangements for the provision of transport, as they consider necessary to facilitate the attendance of adults receiving education at institutions maintained or assisted by the authority and providing further or higher education (or both), or within the further education sector. If an adult learner has an EHCP, then this supports travel arrangements being ‘necessary’: since Local Authorities have a duty to secure the special educational provision specified in an EHCP, getting to the placement is crucial to this.