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Home to School Transport Policy (for students aged 5 to 16)

(Last reviewed June 2020)

Please note, deadline for applications for a September start is 30th May. Applications received after this date cannot be guaranteed to receive a decision or start date for the start of the academic year.



This policy describes Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council’s approach to travel between home (or planned respite) and school, nursery, college, a pupil referral unit or family contact (this last in the case of children who are Looked After by the Council).  Much of this policy is based on legal requirements and the Council’s understanding of the law.  Where this policy reflects the law, the Council may change its practice if the law changes.
These principles underlying the policy are:

  • Ensuring good outcomes for children through consistent school attendance;
  • Health, sustainability and safety;
  • Supporting parents and families, particularly those whose children have additional needs or who face additional challenges in daily life;
  • Promoting independence; and
  • Equality of opportunity and the celebration of diversity.

This policy also describes the circumstances under which children and young people who have particular additional needs may receive help with such travel.  As such, it will be of particular interest to the parents of children and young people who:

  • have special educational needs or disabilities;
  • are eligible for free school meals or whose families claim the maximum level of Working Tax Credit;
  • are Looked After by the Council;
  • have been excluded from school;
  • are unable to attend school for reason of ill health or pregnancy;
  • and/or have moved home.

Contact details of those who are involved in home-school transport are provided at the end of the policy, so that parents who have questions about whether their child is eligible for help with travel can ask for advice.


1.1 This policy explains Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council’s arrangements for travel for:

  • children and young people who live in Tameside, travelling between their home and a school, Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) or college and who are in Year 111 or under;
  • children with disabilities living in Tameside, travelling to or from respite2 care;
  • children who are Looked After by Tameside MBC who travel to or from contact sessions with their families.

1.2 In this policy, the word “home” means a child’s home address or the address of their planned respite.  The word “school” will be used to mean a maintained school or special school or PRU, and college for children up to the end of Year 11.
1.3 There is a separate transport policy statement for students aged 16-19 in Further Education.
1.4 This policy applies to all other children and young people who live in Tameside, whether or not they have a statement of special educational needs, a diagnosis of a particular condition, or neither of these, unless specifically stated.
1.5 This policy applies to travel from home to school at the start of the school day, and school to home at the end of the school day.  The Council does not normally provide extra help for children and young people to travel between educational establishments during the day.

2.Principles and Values

2.1       This policy rests on the following principles:

  • The Council is committed to promoting healthy, sustainable and safe travel solutions;
  • The Council is actively engaged in promoting good outcomes for all children;
  • Attendance at school is vital to good outcomes;
  • The Council wants children and young people to attend school regularly.  It has an active role in helping pupils with particular needs to do this;
  • The Council wants to work in partnership with parents/carers to support them with their legal responsibility to make sure that their children attend school.
  • The Council aims to promote independent travelling for children and young people wherever possible, taking account of their age and needs;
  • The Council is committed to supporting the families of children in need who have disabilities or who experience short-term crises, and those who have low incomes;
  • The Council is committed to equality of opportunity and the celebration of diversity.  It is opposed to all forms of discrimination.


3.Legal Duties and Responsibilities

3.1     The legal background to the provision of transport for children and young people includes the following:
3.2     The Education Act 1996 (as amended) contains the legal duties and powers which are laid on Local Authorities in relation to transport between home and educational establishments, and in relation to travel assistance to help certain children and young people living in their area attend educational establishments;
3.3 The Children Act 1989 sets out the local authority’s duty to facilitate and promote contact between children who are Looked After by the authority or are the subject of care proceedings, and that child’s family;
3.4 The Adoption and Children Act 2002 places a duty on local authorities to produce a multi-agency support plan for children who have been adopted.  These plans are very detailed and may include educational transport;
3.5 The Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001 sets out the arrangements which local authorities must make to ensure that children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities have their needs identified and met;
3.6 Equality Act 2010 requires service providers to make reasonable adjustments to ensure that disabled people are able to access services.

4.Sustainable Travel

4.1 The Council, in common with every other local authority, has a duty to promote sustainable travel and transport between home and school.
4.2 In order to fulfil this duty, the Council will:

  • undertake a regular holistic assessment of the home-school travel and transport needs of the children and young people within Tameside;
  • work with Traffic for Greater Manchester and other transport providers to ensure that the right transport infrastructure is in place; and
  • actively promote sustainable travel and transport: this will include encouraging and promoting walking, cycling, car sharing and the use of public transport.

4.3 The Council will encourage schools and Early Years Settings to develop travel plans, describing the travel issues faced by all those who go there, and outlining plans to improve safety and reduce car use.
4.4 There is a separate Sustainable Modes of Travel Strategy. 

5.General Approach

5.1 Most children travelling between home and school or contact will either do so independently or be taken by their parent(s) or carer(s).  This may include travelling with friends or extended family or, for example, joining a ‘walking bus’.
5.2 Parents and Carers have a legal responsibility to ensure that their child attends school and as part of this they will need to facilitate the child’s travel to school.  Paragraph 8 of this report sets out the assistance available from the Council following agreement with the parent/carer.
This may be by:

  • walking or cycling with the child;
  • arranging for them to walk/cycle with another person going to the same place;
  • taking them by other means;
  • accompanying them on public transport;
  • teaching the child or young person how to do any of these independently.

The Council will help families to find solutions which will enable children and young people to travel in these ways where possible.
5.3 Many families have complex child-care and employment patterns.  It is not within the framework of this policy to provide transport simply because the complexity of these arrangements makes it difficult or inconvenient for parents/carers to take their child to school.

6.Eligible Children (Mandatory Assistance)

6.1 The Education Act 1996 placed a duty on local authorities to make such travel arrangements as they consider necessary to facilitate attendance at school for eligible children.  The following are eligible children:-
Statutory Walking Distance Eligibility
6.2 Home to school transport will be provided for children aged up to 8 to attend school if the safe walking distance to school is more than two miles and they cannot attend a nearer school.
6.3 Home to school transport will be provided for children aged between 8 and the end of year 11 if the safe walking distance to school is more than three miles and they cannot attend a nearer school.
6.4 Most entitlement to transport involves assessing the distance between home and school.  To do this we assess the nearest safe walking distance.  This is not necessarily the shortest distance by road.  The route measured may include footpaths, bridleways, and other pathways, as well as roads.  The Council uses software to generate the distance and it measures from points within each address set by central government.
6.5 When assessing whether a walking route is safe, the Council will generally assume that a child of primary school age will be accompanied by a parent or carer.
6.6 If the child parents or carers have a disability which prevents them from accompanying their child and this means that the child has no safe walking route to school unaccompanied, the Council will consider provision of transport.  Any application for assistance in this case would need to be supported by medical evidence.
6.7 Where children do not qualify under paragraphs 6.2 or 6.3 because they live too close to school, but the parents or carers consider that the nature of the route means that a child can not reasonably be expected to walk (accompanied as necessary) in reasonable safety they should approach the Council.  The Council will look at the nature of the route and this will be assessed in the light of the school travel plan for the school that the child is attending.  If required, the route can be reassessed for the individual child.  This risk assessment will take into account a range of factors including the age of the child, whether any potential risks might be mitigated if the child were accompanied by an adult, the width of any roads and the existence of pavements, street lighting and the condition of the route at different times of the day and year.
6.8 Where a parent/carer chooses to send their child to a school other than the nearest available school, help with travel costs will not be provided under this section. However, the child may still qualify under one of the grounds below.
Special educational needs, a disability or mobility problems eligibility
6.9 Paragraph 5 of this policy says that it is the general responsibility of parents/carers to make sure that all children, including those with additional needs, attend school regularly if they live within walking distance of the nearest school. Nevertheless, children and young people may have difficulty travelling between home and school as a result of behavioural, physical or medical conditions or their learning difficulties.
6.10 Some children may be unable to walk even relatively short distances or travel by bus to school because of their formally identified additional needs, or because of a disability or mobility problem (long or short term).  In these circumstances the Council will consider arranging transport for them to attend special or mainstream schools even if the distance is less than the statutory walking distance.  Medical and other advice will be needed to determine the precise needs of the individual pupil and if appropriate the ability of the parent / carer to take the pupil to and from school.  If assistance is requested the Council will ensure that suitable arrangements are in place.  What is suitable will depend on the nature of the assistance will depend on the distance to be travelled and the nature of the route.
6.11 The Council will also provide help with travel for children and young people who live within the walking distance if their circumstances are deemed ‘exceptional’.  The Council has developed a series of case studies, available on request, which give guidance about what constitutes an exceptional circumstance and will use this guidance in initial assessment of eligibility as part of the social care assessment framework for family support or the statutory assessment process if there is no social care assessment.  Broadly, circumstances are deemed exceptional if there is no practicable way for parents/carers of children with disabilities to be responsible for making travel arrangements for their children.  For example, this may be because:

  • The journey is to or from respite6, and to take the child there would mean that the parent/carer was required to break into their respite period;
  • The child has siblings who need to be accompanied to other schools and it is logistically impossible for the parent(s)/carer(s) to take all their children to school;
  • The child’s parent/carer themselves have a disability which means that they are not able to assist their child with travelling in any way, and the child is not able to make the journey independently.

6.12 Lack of a car does not in itself constitute an exceptional circumstance.  Where a child or young person lives within the walking distance and might reasonably be expected to be able to travel under supervision, for example, the Council will explore options where he or she is accompanied by another family member.
6.13 Where a child with additional needs attends a residential school as the nearest school on a termly basis, transport will be arranged for up to four journeys per term.  For weekly boarders, it will be arranged for up to two journeys per week.
6.14 For parents of young children, the Council will provide transport for children with disabilities attending a specific pre-school setting to which they have been nominated by the Council by reason of the child’s disabilities if the child lives more than 2 miles from the setting.
Extended Rights Eligibility (low income)
6.15 Children are considered to be from families with low income if they are entitled to free school meals or if the parent with whom the child resides is in receipt of the maximum level of working tax credit.
6.16 Children from low income families have additional entitlement to free transport as follows:

  • Children from low income families will receive free transport if they are aged between 8 and 11 and the nearest safe walking distance to school is more than 2 miles.
  • Children from low income families will receive free transport to school once they reach the age of 11 if they live between two and six miles from School and the school is one of the three nearest schools within safe walking distance.
  • Children from low income families who are aged 11 or more and attend their nearest suitable faith school which is between two and fifteen miles from home are entitled to free transport to school if the reason for attendance is based on the parent’s religious belief.

6.17 The Council will also arrange transport for Looked After Children from low-income groups travelling to respite sessions.

7.Eligible Children (Discretionary Assistance)

Looked After Children placed with Tameside foster carers
7.1 The Council expects that carers to make travel arrangements as part of their duties under the placement.  These arrangements should be funded out of the carer’s allowance.
7.2 The Council will consider making additional payments to foster carers if:

  • The journey from the carers’ home to school is over 3 miles; carers can normally claim for any additional distance over 6 miles.  For example:
    • if a return journey to school is up to 6 miles, carers cannot claim additional mileage;
    • if a return journey is 10 miles, carers can claim for 4 additional miles per journey;
  • Where a contact session takes place outside the Borough of Tameside;
  • When other special circumstances apply and these have been agreed at the Placement Meeting, recorded as part of the Placement Agreement and ratified by the Team Manager Assessment and Family Support.


8 Help with Travel and Transport

8.1     In some cases the costs of transport for children will be met by the Council. Sometimes it will be met by TfGM. This section explains the assistance that the Council will provide and the circumstances in which assistance will be provided.
8.2     Where the Council arranges transport, this will usually be between the child’s home address and school or family contact (for children who are looked after by The Council), though it may not be door-to-door. Transport may be provided to an alternative address, for example that of a childminder, if this does not incur additional budgetary cost.
8.3     Where the Council agrees to arrange transport, the transport arranged will usually be by public transport and the assistance will take the form of a bus or rail pass, but it may also be:
A personal transport budget paid to the parents/carers;
provision of an escort to accompany the child or young person;
a place in a taxi or minibus.
Personal Transport Budgets 
8.4       A Personal Transport Budget (PTB) is a payment designed to help you make arrangements which will enable you to facilitate your child accessing school. You can use the budget in any way you wish, to ensure your child attends school every day, is picked up and dropped off on time and in a fit state to learn. For example, it can help towards covering the costs of running a family car or arranging with another member of the family or friends to assist with childcare, enabling you to make the journey. The payment can also be put to use by arranging childcare for a younger sibling whilst the older sibling is taken to school in the family car. The payment is a fixed amount based on proximity and bears no relationship to the cost of a hired vehicle or the specific journey you may use when taking your child to school.
8.5       A PTB is available to children with an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) and who have been assessed as eligible to receive home to school transport. The PTB is granted at the discretion of the Local Authority and is not automatically given upon request. Parent/carers seeking to access the PTB must be found to be eligible for transport assistance before being considered for a PTB. Information on how to apply for Home to School Transport is available from the Integrated Transport Unit.  They can be contacted by email at 
8.6       Before granting a PTB, the Local Authority will investigate whether there is any transport currently in place that your child could be placed onto at a lower cost than providing you with a PTB. While your child’s specific needs will be considered when they are assessed for free school transport eligibility and when identifying their most appropriate form of transport, PTB assessments are based solely on whether or not they are cost effective for the Local Authority.
8.7       If it is not cost effective for the Local Authority to provide you with a PTB, it will not be granted even if it is your preferred method of receiving transport assistance.  Students that are eligible for free school transport but for whom a PTB is not cost effective will be allocated to the most appropriate alternative form of transport assistance instead.
Cycle Allowance
8.8       An annual allowance will normally only be paid5 where this is agreed between the parents and the child when a child who is eligible for help under this policy chooses to use a bicycle to travel between home and school and claims cycle allowance instead of another form of assistance.
8.9       Cycle allowance can only be claimed at the start of the school year. Once the cycle allowance has been paid the Council will generally not make any further provision for school transport for that child during that year.
Place in a taxi or minibus
8.10     Where assistance takes the form of a place in a taxi or minibus, parents/carers may be required to take their child to a local pick-up point.
Independent Travel
8.11     Many parents/carers of children, whatever their level of need, have understandable worries about the safety of their children if they travel independently. Parents/carers of children with learning difficulties or disabilities are often concerned about their ability to stay safe, or cope with unexpected changes.
8.12     The Council will work in partnership with parents/carers, schools and colleges to promote independence for all children, including those with additional needs or disabilities, as part of the broad, balanced and relevant curriculum offer. Wherever possible, this will mean helping children and young people to learn walking or cycling routes, and how to use public transport, with or without support.
8.13     Parents/carers have a vital role in this. They can help with reinforcing the learning which happens at school. Parents know their children better than anyone else and so they will know how to prepare them for the unexpected. If parents are confident about their child’s ability to be independent, their children will benefit from this and grow in confidence themselves.
8.14 For some young people with the most severe physical disabilities, accessing walking, cycling or public transport will not be a realistic long-term aim. Independence for them may come, for example, from being able to arrange their own ‘Dial-a-ride’ journey. Similarly, there are some young people whose parents/carers will have provided their transport throughout their time at school and college, and for whom it will be a step to independence for them to be able to travel in a taxi on their own. It will be important for these young people that their transition plan should include learning these steps towards independence as part of their general curriculum entitlement.


9 Assessment and Review

Time of Assessment
9.1 Eligibility for assistance, in terms of whether someone could attend a nearer school is generally assessed at the time when the school place is allocated.  If someone’s circumstances change and they lose eligibility for one reason or another then they should be reassessed based on their current circumstances.
Children and young people moving home
9.2 If a pupil moves to a new address in Tameside and, at the time of moving:

  • s/he is in Year 10 or 11, and
  • s/he is taking courses leading to external examinations; and
  • their previous school is more than three miles away from the new address (or two miles in the case of a pupil from a low-income group); and
  • the pupil wishes to stay at their previous school,

then the pupil will be entitled to assistance with travel costs.
Review of travel assistance
9.3 Transport arrangements will be reviewed at least annually, or if family circumstances change, taking account of the changing needs of the child, their family circumstances, this policy, and the views of the child, the parents/carers, the school or setting involved and relevant officers of the Council.
9.4 If children have a statement of special educational needs/Education, Health and Care Plan, their transport provision will be reviewed during the annual review.
9.5 If a child’s entitlement to free travel has ended purely as a result of the introduction of this policy then the Council will continue provision of suitable travel arrangements until the Child’s circumstances change (e.g. their needs change or they move house) the Child completes their education at the school.

10 Emergencies and Other Unexpected Circumstances

From time to time unexpected circumstances may arise in a family.  If this happens, the Council will consider provision of assistance with transport on a temporary basis.  Each case will be reviewed on an individual basis and decisions will be made after discussion with relevant people such as medical consultants, social workers and Education Welfare Officers. Examples of these circumstances may include:

  • The child’s parent/carer is seriously ill or dies;
  • The child is injured or has a serious illness and is advised by a consultant that they should not travel on public transport;
  • The child’s parent/carer is fleeing domestic violence;
  • The child’s family loses their home through fire or other accident.


11 Best Practice Transport Provision

Management and organisation
11.1 The Council will ensure that the transport provided for children and young people is of a high quality and appropriate to their needs.
Time on vehicles
11.2 The Council will do its best to ensure that journey-times do not routinely exceed one hour where those journeys are entirely within Tameside.
Safeguarding children
11.3 The Council is committed to ensuring that children are protected from harm.  Escorts will be provided for children and young people travelling by taxi or minibus provided by the Council where this is deemed necessary.  This will normally be for:

  • children under the age of 10 years;
  • children and young people of any age who have significant disabilities, medical or behavioural needs which mean that travelling without an escort may put the child or other people in danger.

11.4 In all cases, the need for an escort will result from a risk assessment arranged by the Council in liaison with parents, which concludes that this is essential to the health and/or safety of the child and other people travelling in the same vehicle.
11.5 The Council seeks to ensure that children are safeguarded, for example by requiring the driver and escort on any vehicle hired by the Council to have been the subject of an enhanced level check with the Disclosure and Barring Service.
11.6 Guidelines will be issued annually to all transport providers to ensure that they are clear about safeguarding matters, and to provide information about how to take action if they are concerned about safeguarding issues. Safeguarding guidelines are also published on the Tameside Safeguarding Children Board website .
Health & Safety
11.7 Buses and coaches used to take pupils to and from school are public service vehicles and, as such, are subject to specific legislation on safety standards. The general condition of other vehicles used to provide transport for children and young people is the subject of contractual condition.  They will also be subject to spot checks by officers of the Council and other partner agencies.
11.8 The use of daily taxis is not a casual use, and thus the use of booster seats is required where specified under the general law.
11.9 Where it is thought that the needs of a child or young person for whom the Council has arranged transport may present a health and safety issue for themselves or others travelling in the same vehicle, a risk assessment will be undertaken by the child’s lead professional in liaison with the child’s parent/carer.  The results of this risk assessment will be shared with the driver and escort (if appropriate) to enable actions to be taken which will minimise the risk.
11.10 Some children and young people’s behaviour can be a cause for such health and safety concerns.  Appropriate adjustments will enable most of these young people to travel in a way which moderates their behaviour, or at a minimum, enables them and those travelling with them to be safe and minimise the triggers for behavioural difficulties.
11.11 One of the strategies which may be employed to help children and young people is the development of a behaviour contract involving the child, their parents/carers and the relevant school.  As an ultimate sanction, this may specify circumstances under which a seat on a taxi, minibus or bus provided by the Council will be withdrawn for a specified period, and access to this reinstated depending on the behaviour of the child or young person.
11.12 In general, transport provision may be withdrawn for a specified period if:

  • it is felt that the young person has the capacity to learn from this sanction;
  • their continued presence in the vehicle presents an unacceptable risk to the health or safety of themselves or other passengers, while other arrangements are being made;
  • the existing situation is causing significant distress to the young person or their fellow-travellers and a ‘cooling-off’ period would enable the situation to improve.

11.13 Similarly, there may be rare incidents where the behaviour of parents/carers towards drivers or escorts causes concern.  The Council is committed to ensuring that those who are employed on the Council’s business are able to undertake their duties free from violence, abuse and harassment or the threat of these.  While the Council will endeavour to assist in the resolution of difficulties experienced by parents, in extreme cases, the Council will explore other forms of assistance for the parents of children who travel in transport arranged by the Council.
11.14 Finally, there may be occasions when the behaviour of drivers or escorts falls short of the high standards which the Council expects from its employees or contractors.  In these circumstances the Council will similarly make efforts to resolve interpersonal difficulties, but will take action whenever necessary to ensure that children and their families are treated with respect.

12 Monitoring Arrangements and Equal Opportunities

12.1 The Council is committed to promoting equal opportunities and equalities through its policies and practices, and will not act in ways, which discriminate on the grounds of race, age, gender, disability, religion or sexual preference.
12.2 The Council will monitor the assistance which is provided to children and young people and will produce a report on an annual basis, which will be published on the Council’s website.  This will include an analysis of transport assistance according to ethnic origin and gender.
12.3 This policy was reviewed in May 2020.


13 Complaints and Appeals

13.1 If a Parent/Carer considers that there has been a failure by the Council to comply with this Policy, the law in relation to home to school transport or if there are any other irregularities they have the right to an appeal in accordance with Appendix 3.


Appendix 1 - Useful Contact Details

Integrated Transport Unit
Tameside ITU
Tame Street
SK15 1ST
EmailSend a message to the Integrated Transport Unit
Transport for Greater Manchester
2 Piccadilly Place
M1 3BG
PhoneTelephone: 0161-244-1000 (9am - 5pm, Monday to Friday)

Transport for Greater Manchester Passes & Permits
2 Piccadilly Place
M1 3BG
Phone 0161 244 1050 (line open Monday to Thursday 9am to 4.30pm, Friday 9am to 4pm)

Tameside Special Educational Needs and Disability Information Advice and Support Service (SENDIASS)
Jubilee Gardens,
Gardenfold Way,
M43 7XU
Phone0161 342 3383
EmailSend a message to the Parent Partnership Service
OKE (support group for the families of children with disabilities)
Our Kids Eyes
Tameside and District
Jubilee Gardens
Garden Fold Way
M43 7XU
Phone0161 371 2084

Appendix 2 - Extra help for children and young people with learning disabilities

TfGM provides free bus passes to people with learning disabilities (of any age).  These bus passes cover travel anywhere on the Greater Manchester bus, train or Metrolink network at any time.  Applications must be made through the Council.
There are also a number of other schemes run by TfGM which may be useful for children with disabilities and their families.  These are advertised on the TfGM website .
1 Year 11 is the year in which young people usually turn 16 years old.
2 ‘Respite’ refers to planned sessions at, for example, Boyd’s Walk (Tameside’s residential short breaks facility) and should not be confused with childcare.
3 A ‘walking bus’ is where a supervised route is organised through a school to enable children to walk safely in a group to school.
4 Mileage will be paid at the mileage rate associated with The Council’s Essential User rate for employees.
5 Annual Cycle Allowance is currently set at £30.00 per annum.
6 ‘Respite’ refers to planned sessions at, for example, Boyd’s Walk (Tameside’s residential short breaks facility) and should not be confused with childcare.

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