To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether free school transport arrangements will be maintained on the same terms for school children from families of low income who are required to travel by bus from one local education authority to another.
Local authorities have a statutory duty to provide free home to school transport for eligible children. A child is eligible if they are of compulsory school age, 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. A child is also eligible if they live within the statutory walking distance but could not reasonably be expected to walk to school because of their special educational needs, disability or mobility problems, or because the nature of the route means it would be unsafe for them to do so.
There are additional entitlements to free home to school transport for those children who are eligible for free school meals, or if a parent they live with receives the maximum amount of Working Tax Credit. These are known as extended rights and are intended to support low income families in exercising school choice. Under the extended rights criteria, a child is eligible if they are aged 8 to 10 years, attend their nearest suitable school and it is more than 2 miles from their home, they are aged 11 to 16 years, and attend one of their three nearest suitable schools which is between 2 and 6 miles from their home; or they are aged 11 to 16 years, attend a school that is between 2 and 15 miles from their home that their parents have chosen on the grounds of their religion or belief and, having regard to that religion or belief, there is no suitable school nearer to their home.
The duty applies even if the school an eligible child attends is in the area of another local authority.
There is no intention to change these requirements.