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Local authorities (LAs) have a statutory duty to provide free home to school transport for all eligible children. A child is eligible for free home to school transport if they are of compulsory school age and:
They attend their nearest suitable school and it is more than the statutory walking distance from their home. The statutory walking distance is 2 miles for children under the age of 8 and 3 miles for children aged 8 and over, or;
They attend their nearest suitable school and cannot reasonably be expected to walk there because of their special educational needs, disability or mobility problem, or because the route is unsafe.
Transport is provided to the nearest suitable school, regardless of whether that school is in a different LA.
There are additional rights to free home to school transport for children from low income households. These are known as ‘extended rights’ and are intended to help low income families exercise school choice in circumstances where transport may otherwise be a barrier. A local authority is required to provide free transport to pupils eligible for free school meals or whose parents are in receipt of maximum working tax credit, and:
The nearest suitable school is beyond 2 miles (for children over the age of 8 and under 11), or;
The suitable school is between 2 and 6 miles (if aged between 11 and 16, and there are not three or more suitable nearer schools), or;
The school is between 2 and 15 miles and is the nearest school preferred on the grounds of religion or belief (aged 11 to 16).