If you have applied for school travel and it has been refused, and if the communication you have received has advised you of the right to challenge this decision, you will need to complete a review/appeal form (this can be found under the "who do I contact" section below).
We understand that going through a review/appeal process may be an anxious time for families and we hope that the information contained in this guide will simplify the process for you. Please read the guidance below before submitting your form as it will take you through the process and explain what happens.
You can only submit a school travel application for the school your child is currently attending or if the school place has been confirmed by the Local Authority.
Before appealing, you must have opted-in (applied) for school travel.
Download school travel application process (PDF 1.1.MB)
In accordance with the CloseDepartment for Education guidance, you may request a review/appeal for the following reasons:
- the travel arrangements offered
- the child’s eligibility
- the distance measurements in relation to the statutory walking distance
- the safety of the route.
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:
- distance measurement
- safety of the walking route
- child’s eligibility
- travel arrangements.
In accordance with the Department for Education (CloseDepartment for Education) guidance, stage one reviews must be received within 20 working days of a transport application being rejected. Any stage one reviews received after this time will not be considered.
Disagree with the distance measurement
If your appeal is because you disagree with the distance measurement, the Passenger Transport Team will remeasure it along the shortest available walking route to and from your home address to the school.
For school places starting from September 2019, distance measurements 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. Public Rights of Way will be included in distance measurements on a route that is generally available all year round except in extreme weather conditions (as may be the case with any road).
*Please note the ITN layer will be replaced by the Ordnance Survey Mastermap Highways Network from September 2019.
Safety of the walking route
If your child is attending their nearest suitable school and you have appealed on grounds of safety, 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 parent. 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 appeal, an independent Road Safety Auditor will assess the route based on national guidance and produce a report to determine if the route is either not dangerous or not safe.
The route is assessed according to the approved published Road Safety GB (formerly LARSOA) Guidelines ("The Guidelines"), and the risk assessment procedure is based on the published RoSPA guidelines for school visits.
All walking routes to school may present some element of road safety risk, whether they are heavily trafficked urban routes, or more lightly trafficked rural routes. This report will take a minimum of six weeks to be produced. If a road safety appeal has been undertaken in the last 5 years that covers the route from 3 miles to where you live to the school, and found to be not dangerous, we will not reassess the route unless there has been a significant change to the highway infrastructure that has created an unavoidable hazard.
From September 2019, Public Rights of Way will be included in distance measurements on a route that is generally available all year round except in extreme weather conditions (as may be the case with any road). Suitable routes to school will include:
- public rights of way (footpaths and footways)
- crossing fields
- wooded areas
The following are regarded as acceptable risks and not normally accepted as reasons for a route being unavailable in line with national guidance as detail above:
- No street lighting
- Moral danger (lonely areas)
- Unmanned level crossings
- Muddy paths
- Electric fences
- Presence of livestock.
In all cases we assume your child will:
- be accompanied by their parent/carer if necessary unless there is a good reason why it is not reasonable to expect the parent/carer to do so. It is the responsibility of parents/carers to ensure that children attend school and CloseSuffolk County Council will always expect that parents/carers will accompany their children to school, or if unable to do this, to make other arrangements to enable their children’s attendance at school
- have suitable clothes and footwear (for wet weather or a muddy path)
- have reflective bands and a torch if needed.
Routes that are entirely urban are considered not dangerous and will not be assessed unless there is clear evidence as to an unavoidable hazard.
If the Road Safety Auditor decides that the route is not safe for an accompanied child, your child and any other child affected by the decision will be offered CloseSuffolk County Council funded school travel.
If the Road Safety Auditor 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 at the Education Transport Appeals Committee should you wish to do so.
If your concerns are about your child being able to safely walk the route due to their mobility problems or associated health and safety issues related to their special educational needs or disability, rather than the route itself not being safe, we will assess your child under the relevant criteria. Please see below.
Your child’s eligibility
If we have advised you that your child is not eligible for CloseSuffolk County Council funded school travel, but you disagree with this, you will need to provide evidence to support why this should to be considered.
This could include but is not limited to:
- children who cannot reasonably be expected to walk the distance to school due to their mobility problems of due to associated health and safety issues related to their special educational needs (SEN) or disability
- Families on low income who receive the maximum level of working tax credit or if your child receives free school meals
- your child has medical needs (which means they cannot be reasonably expected to walk the distance to school.
Examples of evidence you can provide to support your appeal could include, but is not limited to:
- 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 or protection in relation to free school meals, or that you are in receipt of the maximum level of working tax credit or meet the criteria in relation to Universal Credit
- Court order.
The travel arrangements offered
- Travel arrangements offered
If you have been offered CloseSuffolk County Council funded school travel and you are not satisfied with the provision offered, you can ask for this to be reviewed.
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 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.
- Travel arrangements not offered (or withdrawn)
Likewise, if your child has had CloseSuffolk County Council funded school travel and is no longer eligible, or your child is not eligible for CloseSuffolk County Council funded school travel, but you feel you have personal and/or exceptional circumstances that need to be considered, you can ask for this to be reviewed. You will need to evidence
- why your child cannot walk the route
- why you as the parent cannot accompany them either walking or driving to school maybe due to your medical needs; or the reasons your child is unable to travel on public transport.
You will need to provide evidence to support your appeal.
You will be asked to supply supporting evidence once the review/appeal form has been assessed and we contact you to let you know which panel or committee will consider your appeal and when.
You are responsible for providing all relevant information to support your appeal. This should be up to date detailed evidence; examples of evidence you will need to provide have been detailed in the respective criteria above. All the information you provide will be treated as confidential.
Usually, you will have to fund any supporting evidence required yourself where applicable (for example, if there is a medical professional charge for a supporting letter or copies of medical records).
If you choose not to provide any supporting evidence for your appeal, then it will be heard by the decision maker(s) based on the information provided.
The following will not normally be accepted as reasons for an appeal to be considered unless you have other exceptional reasons:
- Work issues relating to a parent’s employment, such as working patterns, that may mean a parent is not to be able to get their child to school
- School’s own travel – if a school has its own travel arrangements in place and subsequently changes them (e.g. the school travel is removed, or school starts to charge or increases the fare) then the local authority will only assess your child’s eligibility to travel under the School Travel and Post 16 Travel policies or the Spare Seat policy
- Children at different schools when schools were parental preference. If, however, children are at different schools because of placements made by the local authority, parents will need to evidence why children are at different schools and are unable to make use of school breakfast clubs/after school clubs as a means to facilitate dropping off/collecting all school children
- House moves – changes to CloseSuffolk County Council funded school travel eligibility because of a house move
- School moves – changes to CloseSuffolk County Council funded school travel eligibility due to a parent/carer voluntarily moving their child’s school and they are no longer attending the nearest suitable school with places available which provides education appropriate for the age, ability, aptitude of the child and any CloseSpecial Educational Needs and Disabilities
- Disagree with the School Travel or Post 16 Travel policies.
We have two panels that can consider requests for school travel outside of the statutory responsibility as detailed in Suffolk’s School Travel and Post-16 Travel policies. They are as follows:
- Travel Officer Panel (CloseTransport Officer Panel)
- Education Transport Appeals Committee (CloseEducation Transport Appeals Commitee)
Travel Officer Panel (TOP)
Appeals other than safety appeals, are referred to the CloseTransport Officer Panel in the first instance in the following circumstances:
- Pupils aged 5-16 attending their nearest suitable school but are under the statutory walking distance *
- Pupils aged 5-16 attending their CloseTransport 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. school. Transport priority areas (TPAs) will not apply with effect from September 2019 and will not be taken into consideration at this panel from this date.
- Pupils placed at a school. This may include
- a pupil who has CloseSpecial Educational Needs and Disabilities and has an EHCP
- pupil who is on a managed move.
This Panel hears appeals from those who wish to challenge transport arrangements for any reason other than the safety of the route, especially where you have circumstances that you believe should be considered exceptionally but you do not wish to give verbal representation.
The CloseTransport Officer Panel consists of appropriate representatives from the following:
- Children and Young People’s Services
- Passenger Transport Team
Appeals to the CloseTransport Officer Panel will usually be processed more quickly than appeals to the CloseEducation Transport Appeals Commitee as the CloseTransport Officer Panel has the capacity to hear more appeals at each scheduled meeting.
The CloseTransport Officer Panel may choose to approve or refuse travel. The decision of the CloseTransport Officer Panel is final and there is no further right of appeal once the CloseTransport Officer Panel decision has been made but you will be made aware of their right to contact the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman. Occasionally in considering the evidence the CloseTransport Officer Panel may find it is not appropriate for it to make a decision and so may have to refer the case to CloseEducation Transport Appeals Commitee for a decision.
Education Transport Appeals Committee (ETAC)
The CloseEducation Transport Appeals Commitee is a CloseSuffolk County Council Regulatory Committee consisting of three elected County Councillors. It has a quorum of two and the meetings are clerked by the Democratic Services Department. The CloseEducation Transport Appeals Commitee meets to consider cases affecting individuals relating to the safety of the route and/or exceptional circumstances where the parent wishes to make verbal representation.
Appeals are referred to the CloseEducation Transport Appeals Commitee in the following circumstances:
- Pupils aged 5-16 attending their nearest suitable school* relating to the safety of the route..
- Pupils aged 5-16 attending their nearest suitable school relating to the safety of the route and/or exceptional circumstances. This may include Post-16 students and Post-19 adult learners with an EHCP in respect of the discretionary offers within CloseSuffolk County Council’s Post-16 Travel policy.
For road safety appeals, the Councillors will inspect the route before the meeting. You will be invited to the meeting to make verbal representation and will be able to bring a friend or relative to support you. You can ask your local County Councillor to be present, or to put your case for you. When you are invited to a meeting of the CloseEducation Transport Appeals Commitee, the invitation will include information on the way in which the meeting will proceed.
CloseEducation Transport Appeals Commitee may choose to approve or refuse CloseSuffolk County Council funded school travel. The decision of the CloseEducation Transport Appeals Commitee is final and there is no further right of appeal once the CloseEducation Transport Appeals Commitee decision has been made. However, you will be made aware of your right to contact the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.
* Children living in Suffolk who will be starting at a new school in September 2019 will be eligible for CloseSuffolk County Council funded school travel when they meet the statutory walking distance criteria from their home to the nearest suitable school that would have had a place available for them. This would be whether or not an application was made for a place at that school.
Due to the current situation with Covid 19 we are unable to hear any stage two appeals with verbal representation in person.
Stage two appeals with verbal representation (with the exception of safety of the route) can still be heard via telephone by the Education Transport Appeals Committee or without verbal representation by the Officer Panel and this option will be available where appropriate. We will contact any appellants directly with updates.
Only when you have been refused school travel can you lodge a review/appeal form. You will then need to complete the online review/appeal form 20 working days of the date on your refusal letter.
If you need help to complete the form or do not have access to the internet, please contact our customer services team on 0345 606 6173.
Once your online form has been received, it will be assessed within 20 working days. We will then contact you to advise of the next steps, including information on which appeal panel will consider your case and how you can submit any supporting evidence. If you are not able to appeal, you will be given guidance on CloseSuffolk County Council’s corporate complaint’s process.
You will be informed of the outcome of your appeal in writing within 7 working days of the meeting.
If your appeal is refused by the CloseEducation Transport Appeals Commitee or Officer Panel, you will have no further right of appeal. However, should you feel that CloseSuffolk County 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 and Social Care Ombudsman
You cannot appeal against CloseSuffolk County Council’s School Travel and Post-16 Travel policies. If you feel that the policies are 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 CloseSuffolk County Council Democratic Services on 01473 265119.
In relation to the Post-16 Policy, if you are dissatisfied or unhappy you also have the option to make a complaint to the Secretary of State for Education.
To do this, young people or their families should use the contact the Department for Education.
Any complaint should outline the case, set out the decision taken and include any other relevant documentation, for example any advice or decisions from the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman where appropriate.
If you should be dissatisfied with any provision of the service you have received or you do not think the relevant policy has been applied correctly, you can raise your concerns through our corporate complaints process. You must provide reasons for your complaint and cannot complain simply because you disagree with the decision from CloseEducation Transport Appeals Commitee or CloseTransport Officer Panel.
To make a complaint, please contact the CloseSuffolk County Council Customer Rights Team. Full contact details are on the Suffolk County Council website or you can contact CloseSuffolk County Council Customer Rights Team email@example.com or on 0345 2661821.