FAQ’s, policies and guidance
Download PDF copies of the Suffolk County Council home to school transport policies
Suffolk County Council home to school transport policy 2016/2017 (PDF, 107.96KB)
Post 16 travel policy for 2016/2017 (PDF 417KB)
Spare seats policy 2016/17 (PDF, 35.2KB)
Information and documents providing guidance on commonly asked home-to-school questions
View a list of commonly asked home-to-school questions (opens in a new window)
Glossary of home-to-school transport terminology
Glossary (PDF, 60.1KB)
Information on the right of challenge process if transport has been refused or you are not happy with the service received.
What assistance with education transport does Suffolk County Council provide?
The law says that it is a parent’s responsibility to make arrangements to get their child to school or college, however the Council has to help in certain circumstances. The Council’s home-to-school and post 16 transport policies can be accessed at www.suffolkonboard.com and includes information about the rules relating to:
- children between ages 5 and 16;
- students over 16;
- families with low-income; ;
- children and young people with special needs and/or disabilities; ;
- the spare seats scheme
Who decides whether my child gets free transport?
The SCC Passenger Transport Team will decide whether your child is entitled to free transport to school. If your child is entitled, you will be automatically offered free transport to and from school. If your child has not been offered free transport, you can find out why by contacting:
Home to School Transport (Entitlement Team)
Suffolk County Council
Ipswich, IP1 2BX
Tel: 0345 606 6173
A parent or carer can challenge a decision about transport entitlement on:
- The transport arrangements offered;
- Their child’s eligibility;
- The distance measurement in relation to statutory walking distances;
- The safety of the route;
- Consideration of exceptional circumstances.
What can I do if I do not agree with the decision?
If you do not agree with the decision, you should contact a Senior Transport Officer within 20 working days of the decision date and ask for the decision to be reviewed as per the contact details listed above. You will be sent a written response within 20* working days of your request.
* The timings are guidelines and not compulsory. Wherever possible we will respond sooner but complex cases may take longer.
For students with Special Educational Needs and/or disabilities in both pre and post 16 education, or vulnerable students in post 16 education, your challenge on the refusal of transport may be considered by the Individual Needs Transport Group (INTG). This group considers individual cases including professional supporting evidence submitted.
What is the Individual Needs Transport Group (INTG)?
This is a group of officers from within Transport and CYP who meet on a regular basis, usually once a month (more frequently as required), to consider individual needs exceptions for students from vulnerable backgrounds or with special educational needs and/or disabilities. This group will review requests where are received within 20 working days of the original decision date. Where requests for review are made, parents/carers or young people (for those aged Post-16) will be asked to submit professional supporting evidence to be considered by the INTG.
Following a review either by a Senior Transport Officer or the INTG, we will write to a parent/carer or young person (where applicable) within 20 working days* with detailed reasons for the decision, how it was considered and what evidence was taken into account. Information will be given on your further right of challenge either via the complaints or appeals process.
If you still disagree with the decision, you will have been advised of your further right of challenge; either to lodge an appeal or make a complaint. The criteria for these are as follows:-
You can appeal if your child is of statutory school age (5-16) and:
- attends their nearest school
- attends their Transport Priority Area (TPA) school. This is normally, but not always, their catchment area school; or
- the child been placed in the school by the Admissions Team; or
- the child has been placed at a special school or specialist unit by the Local Authority.
You can complain if:
- your child is of statutory school age (5-16) and attends an educational establishment selected by parental preference; or
- discretionary travel under the spare seats policy has been withdrawn; or the student is aged 16-18 (or over 19 where the course was started before their nineteenth birthday) and has been refused post 16 transport as they do not attend their nearest school sixth form or post 16 centre
- for students where they hold an EHC Plan, and the INTG has not agreed a “transport need”
- full details of the exceptions can be found in the post 16 travel policy www.suffolkonboard.com/post16
On what grounds may I appeal?
You may appeal for the following reasons:
- the transport arrangements offered
- your child’s eligibility
- you disagree with the distance measurement between your home and your child’s school or college;
- you consider that the nearest walking route is unsafe for an accompanied child pedestrian;
- your child’s special needs or medical condition mean that they cannot be expected to walk to their school;
- your medical condition means that you cannot accompany your child to their school;
- there are other exceptional circumstances which mean that you cannot arrange for your child to access their school.
If you wish, you may use more than one reason as grounds for your appeal. In this case, your appeal will always be considered in the following order:
- your disagreement with the distance measurement;
- your concerns over the safety of the walking route;
- any other exceptional circumstances including the transport arrangements offered and your child’s eligibility.
You must provide reasons for your appeal, and cannot complain simply because you disagree with the decision. You must provide detailed evidence to support your appeal. All information you provide will be treated as confidential.
I disagree with the distance measurement between home and school
If your appeal is because you disagree with the distance measurement between your home and your child’s school, the Passenger Transport Department will check the measurement on the nearest available walking route available to and from your home address to the school. You will be contacted once this measurement assessment has been undertaken.
The route between my home and my child’s school is not safe for an accompanied child
If you have appealed on grounds of safety of the route, you will need to give reasons why you consider that the route is not safe for your child to walk accompanied as necessary by a responsible adult. Examples of the kind of information you could provide for appeals on grounds of safety of the route are:
- information about hazards or recent accidents;
- information on traffic volume or speed;
- photographs to illustrate your case.
After you have submitted your application, the Road Safety Auditor will assess the route and produce a report. This will take about six weeks.
- If the Road Safety Officer decides that the route is not safe for an accompanied child, your child and any other child affected by the decision will be offered free home to school transport.
- If the Road Safety Officer considers that the route is not dangerous for an accompanied child, then you will be sent a copy of the Road Safety Report and invited to present your case with the Education Transport Appeals Committee. Please note the committee meet once a month.
- It is the responsibility of parents to ensure that children attend school, and Suffolk County Council will always expect that parents will accompany their children to school, or arrange for someone else to accompany them or, if unable to do this, make other arrangements to enable their children’s attendance at school.
Transport arrangements offered
If you have been offered transport and you are not happy with the provision provided, you can write in with evidence to request a change to this and the reasons why.
Your child’s eligibility
If we have advised you on your child’s entitlement to transport but you disagree with this or believe consideration of your circumstances needs to be given regard to, you will need to provide evidence to support why this needs to be considered.
Exceptional reasons why my child needs transport to school
If your appeal is on grounds of exceptional circumstances you will need to provide professional evidence to show why it is not possible for:
- you or someone else to walk with the child;
- you or someone else to drive your child to school or college;
- you to pay for someone else to take your child to school or college; or
- you to pay for your child to use public transport. For example, you could provide:
- a letter from a doctor or other medical professional;
- a letter from the child’s school or college;
- evidence showing that your child has an entitlement to free school meals, or that you are in receipt of the maximum level of working tax credit.
Who do I contact to make an appeal?
To make an appeal, please contact
Home to School Transport (Appeals)
Suffolk County Council
Tel: 0345 606 6173
How will my appeal be considered?
If your appeal is on the grounds of the safety of the walking route, it will be considered by the Education Transport Appeals Committee. This Committee is made up of three elected County Councillors who will inspect the route before the meeting. You will be invited to the meeting to make verbal representations and will be able to bring a friend or relative to support you. You can ask your County Councillor to be present, or to put your case for you. If you are invited to a meeting of the Education Transport Appeals Committee, the invitation will include information about the way in which the meeting will proceed.
If your appeal is on the grounds of your child’s special needs or medical condition, or your medical condition or other exceptional circumstances, your written submission will be considered by a Panel of Officers from the Council’s Children and Young People’s If your appeal is on the grounds of your child’s special needs or medical condition, or your medical condition or other exceptional circumstances, your written submission will be considered by a Panel of Officers from the Council’s Children and Young People’s Service, Passenger Transport Department and Legal Services unless, when you submit your application, you indicate that you wish to make verbal representation to the Education Transport Appeals Committee. Appeals to the Officer Panel will usually progress more quickly than appeals to the Education Transport Appeals Committee. The Officer Panel may choose to grant or refuse transport and its decision is final, there is no further right of representation to the Committee once its decision has been made.
You will be informed of the outcome of your appeal in writing within 7 working days of the meeting.
If your appeal is rejected by the Education Transport Appeals Committee or the Officer Panel, your appeal will not be upheld and you will have no further right of appeal. However, should you feel the Council has failed to follow correct procedures or has failed to act independently or fairly, you will have the right to complain to the Local Government Ombudsman.
PO Box 4771
Helpline: 0300 061 0614
You cannot appeal against the Council’s transport policy. If you feel that the policy is unfair, you can explain your views to your local County Councillor. You can find out who your local County Councillor is from the website www.writetothem.com or by contacting SCC Democratic Services on 01473 265119.
On what grounds may I complain?
If your right of challenge is through the complaints procedure based on the criteria detailed above under “What can I do if I do not agree with the decision” or if you should be dissatisfied with any provision of the service, you can raise your concerns through our corporate complaints procedure.
How will my complaint be considered?
Your complaint will be considered under the Council’s corporate complaints procedure. Full details can be found at www.suffolk.gov.uk/about/make-a-complaint-or-give-feedback/. For further details download our comments and complaints leaflet
What information should I provide?
You must provide reasons for your complaint and cannot complain simply because you disagree with the decision. Wherever possible, please include any evidence that may help support your complaint. All information you provide will be treated as confidential.
Who do I contact to complain?
To make a complaint, please contact the SCC Complaints team (Customer Rights) email@example.com or 01473 260711.
Your complaint will be considered as follows:-
We aim to sort out your complaint to your satisfaction as quickly and informally as possible.
In some cases this may be ‘on the spot’ or within a short space of time.
If you are not happy with the response you get, you can ask for your complaint to be moved to Stage 2. This will involve someone independent of the service you are complaining about, investigating the complaint and writing a report containing findings and recommendations to the Director with responsibility for the service you are complaining about.
If you are not happy after Stage 2, you can contact the Local Government Ombudsman at:-
PO Box 4771
Coventry CV4 OEH
Telephone 0300 061 0614
Visit www.lgo.org.uk/making-a-complaint/ for more information.
Right of challenge procedure for a child who has been refused transport to school
Download this procedure here (PDF 61.75KB)
What steps do Suffolk County Council take to ensure that transport providers meet the requirements of schools in respect to safeguarding?
The Passenger Transport Unit (PTU) firstly requires that any company seeking to tender for work must apply to be on a list of approved suppliers. This is the first stage in assuring SCC that the company is reputable and covered by all necessary legislation and insurances. Only companies on this list may tender for contracts issued by the PTU. All contracts issued by the PTU are bound by the Terms and Conditions of Contract. Clause 8 specifies requirements in respect of DBS clearance and other conditions relating to staff employed on the contract. It is the Employers responsibility to ensure that their staff has the necessary checks in place before allowing them to work on SCC routes in accordance with the terms of their contract. Currently all contracts where children or vulnerable adults are transported (or where they may potentially be carried) are subject to this condition which is specified on all tender documents.
How is this monitored?
The contractor is required to provide the PTU with a list of all drivers and passenger assistants who may potentially assist in delivering the contract. Depending on the type of transport, different processes are in place to ensure that all these staff have cleared the necessary checks.
What are these different processes?
In the case of taxi drivers the PTU must be assured that the driver is properly licensed by the district authority. In order to be licensed they must have cleared the DBS process. In the case of bus drivers, passenger assistants and community transport drivers, the check is carried out by the PTU. When this is satisfactorily completed a photo ID badge is issued. In all of the above cases no person is allowed to deliver the contract until such times as all the checks have been completed. A secure database of all approved drivers and passenger assistants is maintained by the PTU.
Does this mean that all staff have no convictions?
No, some DBS disclosures may have criminal convictions disclosed.
What happens in these cases?
There is a strict procedure in place to examine any criminal convictions to determine if there is any risk arising from them. In these cases the applicant may be asked to provide further details of the convictions in writing, at an interview, or both. This evidence is then assessed by a panel of at least three senior officers in the PTU and a decision reached on the suitability of the applicant. In cases where there is doubt the matter is referred to the Safeguarding team for advice and guidance.
What happens after this?
In some cases the applicant may be advised that they are unsuitable and may be given a time period after which they can re-apply and be considered again. This time period will be dependant on the nature of the offence disclosed. In other cases it may be decided that the nature of the offence precludes the applicant from working on contracts. In both cases the applicant will be advised of this in writing and (if different) the employer will also be advised of the decision.
Is anything else done after this?
Monitoring checks are carried out at schools to ensure that employees are on the database. As a contract condition Passenger assistants must also attend training days where safeguarding matters may be on the agenda. A guidance leaflet has also been produced for drivers and passenger assistants with approval and input from the Safeguarding team. This gives advice on best practice and what to do in the event of problems. Should the PTU be advised by the police of subsequent convictions that are related to the employment the case would be reopened and further evidence requested to establish if the employee is still suitable. Depending on the severity of the offence the employee may be temporarily suspended from the contract pending the outcome. In all cases the Contract terms reserve the right of the PTU to remove a person from the work and failure to comply with this term can result in the termination of the contract.
Download the information contained on this page. (PDF, 20KB)
Further information on the use of School Minibuses can be found here: DfE & DfT guidance
School minibus operation contacts
New and Used Vehicle Purchase “and leasing"
General advice/Driver assessment and training
Section 19 permits
KIER Fleet and Passenger Services
Suffolk County Council
Suffolk County Council Transport Policy
Suffolk’s Local Offer: (for those with special educational needs)
English National Concessionary Travel Scheme
16-19 Bursary Fund
Bus Operators in Suffolk
Suffolk Journey Planner
Connecting Communities rural transport services
Travel Options: Moving of from year 11 (PDF, 245KB)
Code of Conduct (PDF, 32KB)
How to get in contact with us
If you have a query about home to school/college transport or want to report a problem, you can:
or call us on 0345 6066173
You can also contact us about any home to school issues by writing to:Passenger Transport Endeavour House 8 Russell Road Ipswich Suffolk IP1 2BX
Any queries you raise may require us to contact the transport company to ensure your issues are addressed appropriately.
If your enquiry is urgent, e.g. children have not been collected from a bus stop or is of a child protection nature, please call us on 0345 6066173 and tell us about your concern.