Update on school travel

School travel applications

Due to the current situation we are experiencing technical difficulties and staff shortages. We are processing applications and requests for reviews as quickly as possible and will respond to you as soon as we can.

Invoices and refunds

We are currently processing requests for refunds for spare seat and post-16 travel. If you have received an invoice for the summer term, please do not pay this at this time.

Thank you for your patience.

The Passenger Transport Team

Getting to school, college or sixth form

Suffolkonboard Opt-In Graphic

Our transport policies sets out the help we may be able to provide to pupils who don’t live within walking distance of their nearest suitable schoolCloseThe nearest qualifying school with places available that provides education appropriate to the age, ability and aptitude of the child, and any special educational needs that the child may have. The nearest qualifying school for a child with special educational needs may well be different than for other children. When considering eligibility for transport, for a school to be considered suitable it must have places available..
This distance set out in the Education Act 1996 is measured by the shortest available walking route and is:

  • two miles for children under eight
  • three miles for children aged eight and over

After reading the relevant transport policy and you believe you might be entitled to school travel, you must opt-in each year. If you are unsure if you need to opt-in (apply) please contact customer services at customer.services@suffolk.gov.uk or on 0345 606 6173


Policies


Opt-in

Spare Seats 2020-2021


Further information

Suffolk County Council (SCCCloseSuffolk County Council) introduced a new School Travel Policy in September 2019.

All children living in Suffolk who will be starting at a new school will be eligible for SCCCloseSuffolk County Council funded school travel when they meet the statutory walking distance criteria (statutory walking distance criteria is measured from home to the nearest suitable schoolCloseThe nearest qualifying school with places available that provides education appropriate to the age, ability and aptitude of the child, and any special educational needs that the child may have. The nearest qualifying school for a child with special educational needs may well be different than for other children. When considering eligibility for transport, for a school to be considered suitable it must have places available.). This would be whether or not an application was made for a place at that school.

Check out these school travel scenarios (PDF, 100KB) if you're applying for a school place and use this guide on how to plan your child's journey to school or college and check when you can opt-in or apply for September 2020.

You can apply for school travel for any one of the following four reasons:

1. Distance

Your child can only get Suffolk County Council funded school travel if they attend their nearest suitable schoolCloseThe nearest qualifying school with places available that provides education appropriate to the age, ability and aptitude of the child, and any special educational needs that the child may have. The nearest qualifying school for a child with special educational needs may well be different than for other children. When considering eligibility for transport, for a school to be considered suitable it must have places available. for the school year (2020/2021) and meet the criteria below:

  • over 8 years old and live over 3 miles from the school using the shortest available walking route
  • under 8 years old and live over 2 miles from the school using the shortest available walking route

Walking is measured by the shortest route along which a child, accompanied as necessary, may walk with reasonable safety. As such, the route measured may include footpaths, bridleways, and other pathways, as well as recognised roads.

2. Income

Suffolk County Council has a legal duty to provide free school travel to families that meet the criteria for “Extended rights eligibility”.

For primary school aged pupils, aged 8 to 11, this means that free travel is provided when:

  • pupils are entitled to free school meals or their parents are in receipt of maximum Working Tax Credit and:
    • attending the nearest suitable schoolCloseThe nearest qualifying school with places available that provides education appropriate to the age, ability and aptitude of the child, and any special educational needs that the child may have. The nearest qualifying school for a child with special educational needs may well be different than for other children. When considering eligibility for transport, for a school to be considered suitable it must have places available. which is beyond 2 miles from home

For secondary school pupils, aged 11 to 16, there is a wider choice of school which means that free travel is provided when

  • pupils are entitled to free school meals or their parents are in receipt of maximum Working Tax Credit and:
    • the school is between 2 and 6 miles from home and there are not three or more suitable nearer schools;
    • the school is between 2 and 15 miles and is the nearest schoolCloseIn some circumstances, you may live in an area of Suffolk where your catchment school is not your physically closest school. As you may be eligible for free transport (if both schools meet the distance criteria) you will need to contact us so we can assess this preferred on the grounds of religion or belief.

3. Special Educational Needs and/or Disability (SEND)

Travel to a school or college for students with SENDCloseSpecial Educational Needs and Disabilities or mobility difficulties is assessed against our School and Post 16 Travel policies and the following distance criteria applies:

  • 2 miles from the nearest suitable schoolCloseThe nearest qualifying school with places available that provides education appropriate to the age, ability and aptitude of the child, and any special educational needs that the child may have. The nearest qualifying school for a child with special educational needs may well be different than for other children. When considering eligibility for transport, for a school to be considered suitable it must have places available. if they're aged under 8
  • 3 miles from the nearest suitable schoolCloseThe nearest qualifying school with places available that provides education appropriate to the age, ability and aptitude of the child, and any special educational needs that the child may have. The nearest qualifying school for a child with special educational needs may well be different than for other children. When considering eligibility for transport, for a school to be considered suitable it must have places available. if they're aged 8 or older
  • 3 miles from the nearest post 16 educational provision and are aged 16 to 25

However, if they cannot walk because of their SENDCloseSpecial Educational Needs and Disabilities or mobility difficulties, they may be entitled to funded or subsidised travel irrespective of the minimum distance criteria.

4. Safety

If your child is attending their nearest suitable schoolCloseThe nearest qualifying school with places available that provides education appropriate to the age, ability and aptitude of the child, and any special educational needs that the child may have. The nearest qualifying school for a child with special educational needs may well be different than for other children. When considering eligibility for transport, for a school to be considered suitable it must have places available. but is under the statutory distances as detailed above, your child may be eligible for SCCCloseSuffolk County Council funded school travel if the route is assessed as not safe.

All walking routes to school may include some element of road safety risk.

Parents are responsible for accompanying their child (or children) as necessary and ensuring their child has suitable clothes and equipment for the journey.

For example:

  • boots
  • wet weather clothes
  • reflective bands
  • torch

The home to school journey will include:

  • public rights of way (footpaths and footways)
  • bridleways
  • crossing fields
  • wooded areas

New pupils

You will be notified by email if your child is eligible for SCCCloseSuffolk County Council funded school travel for September 2020.

  • 30 March 2020 (Secondary school)
  • 15 May 2020 (Primary school)

Returning pupils must opt-in

You must opt-in (apply) every year to keep receiving Suffolk County Council funded school travel, even if you return to the same school in September 2020.

You can apply from

  • 4 March 2020 (Secondary school)
  • 16 April 2020 (Primary school)

Late applications received after 31 May 2020 may delay your child from receiving Suffolk County Council funded school travel for September 2020.

By opting in, we can keep our details about you up to date and plan our transport services efficiently.

There are different travel options available for Post-16 students and you will need to consider which one is best for you


Endeavour Card

Anyone aged 16-19 can make use of the Endeavour Card to get a minimum of 25% off adult bus fares. This card can be used at weekends, evenings and during school holidays. www.endeavourcard.co.uk


Bus operators' own schemes

Many bus operators offer their own ticketing options and have some schemes that are very competitive cost-wise. Please visit www.suffolkonboard.com/operators for more information.


Rail operators' own schemes

Greater Anglia offers various rail discount schemes for 16-18 year olds. Further information can be found at www.greateranglia.co.uk


Connecting Communities Logo

Find out about Connecting Communities

Connecting Communities is a transport service provided by Suffolk County Council designed to help people travel around the county of Suffolk who might not have access to a regular bus service. The Endeavour Card is also accepted on all Connecting Communities services (see Endeavour Card information above).


School/colleges' arrangements

Some colleges and Sixth Forms offer their own travel. Go to www.suffolkonboard.com/gettingreadyforseptember for more information.

If you are on low income, you can apply for a bursary from the 16-19 Bursary Fund. Visit www.gov.uk/1619-bursary-fund to find out more information.


Suffolk County Council subsidised travel

Where there are no alternative travel options you may be able to get subsidised travel from Suffolk County Council, which you will need to pay for. This would apply if your child:

  1. Lives over 3 miles from their nearest suitable provision (college or sixth form);
  2. Lives in Suffolk;
  3. Is studying a full time course (minimum of 12 hours per week); and
  4. Is starting a course before their 19th birthday.

You can apply for Post-16 travel between 4 March and 31 May 2020 at www.suffolkonboard.com/apply.


Spare seats

What is spare seats transport?

If there are spare seats on a school bus, we make them available to families living on the route who don't qualify for free home to school or post 16 travel.

How much does it cost?

From 1 September 2020 the cost for a spare seats transport will be £280 per seat per term.
If your child has special educational needs and disabilities (SENDCloseSpecial Educational Needs and Disabilities) and is not eligible for SCCCloseSuffolk County Council funded school travel you may purchase a spare seat for £240 per term.
You must apply by 31 May each year, otherwise your application may not be assessed in time for the start of the new school year.
Find out about the 16-19 Bursary fund (link to here https://www.gov.uk/1619-bursary-fund) if you’re a family on low income.
Full details on the spare seats policy and how application are assessed and prioritised please refer to the policy: spare seat policy 2019-2020.

Applicants should check whether a cheaper fare or season ticket is available from their local public transport provider.

To opt-in (apply) for a spare seat please go here

For post-16 applications please apply here

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 (PTUClosePassenger transport unit) 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 SCCCloseSuffolk County Council 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 PTUClosePassenger transport unit. All contracts issued by the PTUClosePassenger transport unit are bound by the Terms and Conditions of Contract. Clause 8 specifies requirements in respect of DBSCloseDisclosure and Barring Service 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 SCCCloseSuffolk County Council 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 PTUClosePassenger transport unit 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 PTUClosePassenger transport unit must be assured that the driver is properly licensed by the district authority. In order to be licensed they must have cleared the DBSCloseDisclosure and Barring Service process. In the case of bus drivers, passenger assistants and community transport drivers, the check is carried out by the PTUClosePassenger transport unit. 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 PTUClosePassenger transport unit.

Does this mean that all staff have no convictions?

No, some DBSCloseDisclosure and Barring Service 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 PTUClosePassenger transport unit 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 (PDF, 58KB) 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 PTUClosePassenger transport unit 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 PTUClosePassenger transport unit to remove a person from the work and failure to comply with this term can result in the termination of the contract.

On 1 January 2020, the Public Service Vehicles Accessibility Regulations 2000 (PSVAR) came into effect. These regulations relate to the Disability Discrimination Act 2010 and apply to any vehicles that are designed to carry more than twenty two passengers, to incorporate features to enable disabled people to travel on them comfortably and safety, including a wheelchair space and a ramp or lift.

Suffolk County Council is therefore unable to sell spare seats on a vehicle that is not PVSAR 2000 compliant unless the contract the local authority has an approved exemption for an existing route from the Department for Transport (DfT) where spares seats are sold.

Suffolk County Council submitted to the DfT by 13 December 2019, a list of all routes that had a spare seat sold on them to apply for an exemption certificate to allow for those students to continue to travel, but future non PSVAR compliant routes are not permitted to have an exemption.  The exemptions must reduce by 50% after two years (by July 2021) and by 100% after a further two years (by July 2023).

Please note that due to these new government regulations being implemented from January 2020, the spare seat policy will be affected. Applicants for the 2020/2021 academic year should not assume that existing spare seats will be available, or continue to be available, on vehicles operated by the county council for children if their child is not entitled to free home to school transport

Suffolk County Council as part of Suffolk Brokerage will encourage operators, schools, parish councils and all other interested stakeholders to work together to:
  • highlight and capture demand of potential future passengers
  • facilitate discussions to ensure financially viable transport routes
  • help discussions between transport operators, schools and parish councils to calculate what the funding gap might be to make a transport route financially sustainable
  • facilitate discussions with local volunteers that may be willing to drive for Community Transport Organisations for their local area.

Transport operators can help by:
  • proactively having discussions with schools in their local area
  • promoting current transport services, routes and fares with local parish councils
  • having discussions with local communities on future passenger demand
  • capturing information from customer enquiries on potential future demand.
Suffolk Local Solutions and how these can be developed with schools:
  • SCCCloseSuffolk County Council helped develop potential Local Solutions. 
  • The Local Solutions menu provide potential ideas that could make savings and/or mitigate impact of the policy changes. The Local Solutions will work side-by-side phasing in the school travel policy and include working with schools, colleges, local communities and/or parish councils.  SCCCloseSuffolk County Council would need to agree the detail prior to implementation.  Part of the agreement would include an assessment of the impact on the health and well-being of the children affected.
  • Suffolk Brokerage can provide capacity building support and facilitate the development of Local Solutions. Please email passenger.transport@suffolk.gov.uk for further information.

Schools and operators already taking an active role in the service

School Travel Links

Suffolk County Council
www.suffolk.gov.uk

Suffolk’s Local Offer: (for those with special educational needs)
www.suffolklocaloffer.org.uk

School Travel Consultation
School and post 16 travel consultation

English National Concessionary Travel Scheme
http://www.suffolkonboard.com/concessionary-travel

16-19 Bursary Fund
www.gov.uk/1619-bursary-fund

Endeavour Card
www.endeavourcard.co.uk

Bus Operators in Suffolk
www.suffolkonboard.com/operators

Suffolk Journey Planner
www.suffolkonboard.com/planner

Connecting Communities rural transport services
www.suffolkonboard.com/cc


School minibus operation contacts

New and Used Vehicle Purchase and Leasing
Helpdesk
procurement@schoolschoice.org
01473 260266

Vehicle insurance
Insurance Team
Insurance@suffolk.gov.uk
01473 264038 

General advice/Driver assessment and training
Suffolk Norse
enquiries@suffolknorse.co.uk
01473 341500

Section 19 permits
Bus Registrations and Permit Team
Central Licensing Office
Hillcrest House,
386 Harehills Lane
Leeds LS9 6NF
01132 543279

Vehicle maintenance
KIER Fleet and Passenger Services
01473 341444

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:

contact us online

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.

Urgent enquiries

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.

View full contact details for different county council services


Transport options

SEND travel

Travel support for pupils and learners with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)

Statutory school age pupils

The school travel policy (PDF, 2MB) provides Suffolk County Council funded travel for children of compulsory school age (5 years up to 16 years) who live:

  • two miles or more from the TPACloseTransport Priority Area in which free transport is offered to a particular school. In most cases this follows the catchment area used by Admissions but for locations close to a free school, this does not always follow the catchment area used by Admissions.* or nearest schoolCloseIn some circumstances, you may live in an area of Suffolk where your catchment school is not your physically closest school. As you may be eligible for free transport (if both schools meet the distance criteria) you will need to contact us so we can assess this if they are under 8 years old; or
  • three miles from the TPACloseTransport Priority Area in which free transport is offered to a particular school. In most cases this follows the catchment area used by Admissions but for locations close to a free school, this does not always follow the catchment area used by Admissions. or nearest schoolCloseIn some circumstances, you may live in an area of Suffolk where your catchment school is not your physically closest school. As you may be eligible for free transport (if both schools meet the distance criteria) you will need to contact us so we can assess this if they are over 8 years old.

*TPACloseTransport Priority Area in which free transport is offered to a particular school. In most cases this follows the catchment area used by Admissions but for locations close to a free school, this does not always follow the catchment area used by Admissions.'s will not apply from September 2019

Where a child or young person is placed in a particular educational setting as a result of their identified SEN, the Local Authority will advise if travel will be available in line with statutory requirements.

Post 16 learners

For post 16 students, the Post-16 Travel Policy (PDF, 741KB) applies, but for a student aged 16-25 who cannot walk because of their SEN, a disability or mobility difficulties may be entitled to transport irrespective of the minimum distance.

All students must contribute to their transport costs post-16. Transport assistance may be provided to students with a learning disability who begin a course after their 19th birthday. In these cases, agreement would be required by Suffolk County Council.

Some colleges in Suffolk may be able to assist students through 16-19 bursary funds held by school and college providers. You should contact your college directly to find out more.

Please Note: For any child or young person with SEN or a disability, they may be entitled to Suffolk County Council funded travel irrespective of the distance from the school if they cannot be reasonably expected to walk to school/college because of their SEN or mobility difficulties.   If you think this applies to you, or you have been refused school or post 16 travel and have exceptional circumstances you would like us to consider further, please find out more here.

  Further information

Pay

Invoices

You have an option to pay half-termly. Details on how you do this are available as you go through the payment process online.

Pay my invoice

You can also pay your invoice by calling 0800 0902911.

Please make your payment using our automated telephone payment service by calling 0800 090 2911, open 24hours

Please also remember to submit your photoform

Passes (Replace lost/stolen)

If your pass is lost, stolen or broken then it will need to be replaced at a cost of £10

Apply and pay for a replacement pass by calling 0345 606 6173

If you wish to replace the photo on your pass there is a fee of £10