Secondary (including high and upper) school places for the 2019/2020 school year – National Offer Day School Travel FAQs:

Suffolk County Council has introduced a new school travel policy, effective from September 2019. This new policy is being phased in as children start or move school. All children who wish to receive Suffolk County Council funded school travel will need to (apply) for it each year. Applications should be made no later than 31 May each year to ensure that the transport provision is in place by the start of the new academic year in September. Click to read the new policy.


How do I know if my child has been offered a place at 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. with a space available and will therefore be eligible for Suffolk County Council funded school travel in September 2019?

You can check if your child has been offered 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. by using the nearest school checker. If you have been allocated a school place at your 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 with a place available and you live over the statutory walking distance of three miles from it or there is no safe walking route within this distance, we will contact you by 30 April for secondary (including high and upper) school allocations for admission to Year 7 or Year 9 in September 2019.

I understand that the school must be suitable, what does this mean?

All types of school are included regardless of whether they are community, voluntary aided, foundation, voluntary controlled or have academy status. A suitable school is one that provides education that is appropriate to the age, ability and aptitude of the child, and any special educational needs they may have. Parents may feel that other schools are not ‘suitable’, but this does not mean that their child is eligible for SCC funded school travel to that school.

My child is eligible for Suffolk County Council (SCC) funded school travel. When will I hear what to do next?

For pupils starting secondary (including high and upper) school in Year 7 or in an upper school in Year 9 in September 2019, we will contact you if your child is eligible for SCC funded school travel by no later than 30 April 2019. If you have not heard from us by that date, and you believe your child may be eligible, contact the Customer Service Team on 0345 606 6173 or email them at customer.services@suffolk.gov.uk.

All children using SCC funded school travel will have to opt-in to the service each year by no later than 31 May - see www.suffolkonboard.com/optin for further information. If you apply after 31 May, there is no guarantee that your child’s transport provision will be in place for the start of the new school year.

My child has been allocated their nearest suitable school which is just over the county boundary. The distance is closer than my nearest Suffolk secondary (including high and upper) school, will my child be eligible for SCC funded school travel?

Yes, providing it is 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. with a place available and is over the statutory walking distance of 3 miles or there is no safe walking route within this distance.

My eldest child gets SCC funded school travel. Does that mean that my youngest child will have the same eligibility when they move to this school in September 2019?

No, there is no sibling link in the new school travel policy. Each child’s eligibility is assessed individually at the time their school place is allocated. To check if your child will be 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. to your home address, click here

I live in Bury St Edmunds and my nearest suitable school is over the statutory walking distance and is a two-tier school, can I have SCC funded school travel to my nearest three-tier school which is further away?

If a space is available at the nearer two-tier school, there would be no eligibility to SCC funded school travel to the three-tier school.  A child will only be eligible for SCC funded school travel to a three-tier school if it is 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. with places available and over the statutory walking distance.

We live under three miles from our nearest suitable school, are there any circumstances where my child would be eligible for SCC funded school travel?

Yes, you may be eligible for SCC funded school travel under the following circumstances:

Low Income

SCC funded school travel will be available where pupils are entitled to free school meals or their parents are in receipt of maximum Working Tax Credit if:

  • The school is between two and six miles (if aged 11-16 and attending one of the three nearest qualifying schools to your address);
  • The school is between two 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 (if aged 11-16).

If your child has been eligible for free school meals at any time since April 2018, due to the roll out of Universal Credits, you will remain entitled to free school meals until the end of the roll out (currently March 2023) and then until the end of the phase of education your child is in at March 2023 (primary or secondary).  This is regardless of any change to your financial circumstances over that time range. Your child’s eligibility for SCC funded school travel will be reassessed if your child moves to a new house or changes school even if your family remain on low income.

SafetyCloseYou consider that the nearest available walking route is unsafe for an accompanied child pedestrian to their nearest or catchment school

SCC funded school travel will be provided for children 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., which is less than the statutory walking distance, if it is considered not safe for the child, accompanied as necessary, to walk to school. This eligibility would continue for as long as the route remains classed as unsafe.

Special educational needs, disability or mobility issue

Travel arrangements will be available for a child who cannot reasonably be expected to walk to school, accompanied as necessary, because of their mobility problems or because of associated health and safetyCloseYou consider that the nearest available walking route is unsafe for an accompanied child pedestrian to their nearest or catchment school issues related to their special educational needs or disability.

Where a parent or carer has a disability that prevents them from accompanying their child to school, the child’s needs will be considered individually. Where eligible, the family will receive appropriate support to enable the child to attend a school within the statutory walking distance. This would be for both short and long-term arrangements.

Note: For children who have special educational needs and/or mobility difficulties (including temporary medical conditions), entitlement to school travel will be considered on an individual basis.

If you have been refused SCC funded school travel but believe you are covered by any of these factors, please request a school travel review. You will be required to provide evidence of your exceptional circumstances for consideration.

I cannot afford to get my child to school, what can I do?

If you have been turned down for SCC funded school travel under the extended low income rights described above and access to school is a barrier, we recommend that you speak to your child’s school in the first instance for support.
You can also ask for your case to be considered exceptionally, through the two- stage review and appeal process, see www.suffolkonboard.com/appeals You will need to provide sufficient evidence to prove your hardship and why you cannot get your child to school by other means (see www.suffolkonboard.com/smot).

My child is eligible for SCC funded school travel currently, but I am moving to a new house. Will they still be eligible for SCC funded school travel?

If your child moves to a new house, your child’s eligibility to SCC funded school travel will be reassessed at that time. You will need to provide us with evidence of your child’s new home address so that reassessment can take place. If you cannot provide this evidence until after 31 May, please be aware that your child’s transport provision may not be in place for the start of the new school year in September.

You can check what is 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. to your new address here.

If I make a second application after National Offer Day, will I automatically have my eligibility for SCC funded school travel reviewed for the new preference(s) I have made?

No, not automatically. If we can offer a place at your new preference school, we will do so and reassess school travel eligibility on the date the admissions application is determined. If the school is full, and your circumstances remain unchanged, then then the existing school place offered would remain and we would not reassess SCC funded school travel eligibility.

I am making a late application for a school place; how would you assess my eligibility for SCC funded school travel?

If we offer your child a place at 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. that had a place available, we would assess their eligibility for school travel on the date the admissions application is determined.

Why is my child not eligible for SCC funded school travel?

If your child is not eligible for SCC funded school travel it is either because they are:

  • not 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. with places available, or
  • the distance does not meet the walking distance

Can I apply for a spare seat to get my child to school?

Yes, where SCC has a school busCloseThis is a vehicle wholly contracted for eligible students; this does not apply to public services running, for example to a high school, where there are spare seats available these can be purchased at a termly charge.
You can apply for a spare by completing the application form, details of this can be found at www.suffolkonboard.com.
There is different criteria terms and conditions for pre-16 and post 16. These can also be found at www.suffolkonboard.com
Remember, SCC funded school travel may not always be the cheapest option, so make sure you look at bus operators own fares too.
You must opt-in by 31 May 2019 or school travel may not be set up before the start of the school year.
Spare seats cannot be guaranteed nor is there a continued right to purchase spare seats as availability will depend on the number of children with a statutory entitlement to SCC funded school and post-16 travel, which may change throughout the year.

I have applied for and been refused SCC funded school travel. Can I challenge this decision?

SCC operates a two-stage review and appeal process. In accordance with the Department for Education guidance, you may request a review/appeal for the following reasons:

  1. The travel arrangements offered;
  2. Your child’s eligibility;
  3. The distance measurements in relation to the statutory walking distance;
  4. The safetyCloseYou consider that the nearest available walking route is unsafe for an accompanied child pedestrian to their nearest or catchment school of the route

For details of how to request a review/appeal please visit www.suffolkonboard.com/appeals

What is included in the distance measurement used to determine whether my child is eligible for SCC funded school travel to their nearest suitable school?

We will include Public Rights of Way when measuring distance from home to school for travel eligibility purposes.  Distances are measured by the shortest available route along which a child, accompanied as necessary, may walk with reasonable safetyCloseYou consider that the nearest available walking route is unsafe for an accompanied child pedestrian to their nearest or catchment school.

Routes are calculated using a network comprised of the Ordnance Survey Integrated Transport Network (ITN), which includes all roads and urban paths, and Public Rights of Way as shown on the Definitive Map. Distances are measured from the point of the network that is closest to the address point of the child’s home to the nearest gate or access to the school or post-16 centre.

When assessing the Extended Rights to Low Income Transport, in accordance with the DfE published guidance we measure the upper distances according to the road route via the Integrated Transport Network.

In future, Ordnance Survey Mastermap Highways Network will replace ITN.

I am not satisfied with the type of transport that is being offered by SCC – what can I do?

SCC will organise the most cost-effective mode of travel for your child to travel to school or college. If you have been offered SCC funded school travel and you are not satisfied with the provision offered, you can ask for this to be reviewed. For details of how to request a review/appeal please visit www.suffolkonboard.com/appeals

It will not normally be accepted as a reason for an appeal that you are not happy with the provision due to a change of operator, for example the bus or taxi company providing the transport, or that your child has been offered a bus rather than a taxi.

You will need to provide evidence as to why the provision offered is not suitable for your child.

I have chosen to send my child to a school of preference but I’m not sure if this school runs its own bus route – how can I find out?

Contact your child’s allocated school, visit the school’s website and look at their school travel plan. Some secondary (including high and upper) schools run their own school busCloseThis is a vehicle wholly contracted for eligible students; this does not apply to public services(es) based on demand from parents who may be asked to pay for a seat for their child.

For more detail on sustainable travel, visit: www.suffolkonboard.com

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