Home to School Transport Policy (0 to 25 Year Olds)

Last updated: 11 June 2024

10. General Guidance

10.1 Home address

Transport assistance is based upon the distance from the home address to school and will be verified using the information supplied by the parent/carer. Normal home address is defined as being the address at which the parent/carer ordinarily resides and with whom the child normally lives.

In situations of joint parental custody, the home address would normally be that at which the parent/carer, in receipt of the child benefit for that pupil, resides. If child benefit is not received then the address at which the child is registered with a GP will be used. If this is not conclusive then we will use the address the child spends the greater proportion of the school week.

10.2 Educational placement for pupils/students with an EHCP

Parents/carers have the right to ask for a preferred school/setting to be named in their child’s EHCP when the plan is first drawn up and when the Council amends the existing plan. Where naming the parent’s preferred school/setting would be unsuitable for the pupil’s/student’s age, ability, aptitude or special educational needs, or incompatible with the efficient education of others or the efficient use of resources, the Council must name a different school that would be appropriate for the pupil/student.

There is no automatic entitlement to travel assistance.

Where a parent/carer would prefer their child to attend a school that is further away from their home than the nearest school with available spaces that would be able to meet their child’s needs, the Council will consider the cost of the two educational placements. Where relevant, this will include the estimated costs of Council funded travel assistance to each setting. If the Council determines naming the parent’s preferred school would be incompatible with the efficient use of its resources, the Council may:

  • name a different school that would be appropriate for the child’s needs, which may be the nearer school, or
  • name the parent’s preferred school on the condition that the parent arranges and provides all of the cost of the travel.

This is at the discretion of the Council based on efficient use of resources. The decision will be made in line with the Council’s legal responsibilities in completing the EHCP.

The Council will record the decision to name the parent’s/carer’s preferred school on the condition that the parent/carer arranges and pays for their child’s home to school travel. The Council may review the school named in the EHCP if the parent/carer is later unable or unwilling to arrange or pay for their child’s travel.

10.3 Medical needs while onboard transport

The driver and/or any passenger assistant are not responsible for the administration of routine medical aid or medication during the journey. If a pupil/student has a medical condition which would require the administration of routine medical aid or medication during the journey, the Council will make suitable transport arrangements in line with the pupil’s/student’s travel needs assessment. For example, the Council will make suitable arrangements for medical aid onboard transport where a child has complex medical needs requiring a medical professional to administer treatment or medication during the journey. The transport arrangements will be informed by supporting evidence from a senior medical professional e.g. a consultant. Alternatively, the parent/carer may choose to receive a Personal Transport Budget and make their own suitable transport arrangements.

In the event of a medical emergency while the pupil/student is onboard transport, the driver will stop the vehicle where it is safe to do so. The driver and/or passenger assistant will call 999 and while they wait for paramedic assistance, they will follow the instructions given to them by the emergency operator.

Parents/carers are responsible for advising the Council of any changes to their child’s medical needs which may affect their transport arrangements.

10.4 Change of address and emergency contact details

Parents have an obligation to notify the council when they move house.

If an eligible pupil or student moves to an address further away from the school such that their current school is no longer the nearest suitable school, Council funded travel assistance will be withdrawn from the moving date.

If the parents/carer apply for and are allocated a place at their nearest suitable school, the pupil’s/student’s eligibility for Council funded travel assistance will be reassessed.

If a pupil or student is confirmed as being eligible for travel assistance from their new home address to their nearest suitable school, it can take up to 15 working days to organise the transport arrangements. During this time, the parent/carer is responsible for ensuring school attendance.

Parents/carers must provide the council with up to date emergency contact numbers and email addresses. It is the parent/carer’s responsibility to provide updated information where there are changes.

10.5 Inaccurate Applications

The Council reserves the right to reclaim the cost of any transport provided, if it is found that any incorrect information has been submitted in order to gain travel assistance.

10.6 Students living outside of Buckinghamshire

Students who live outside of Buckinghamshire attending a school in Buckinghamshire should apply to their own Local Authority for assistance with transport.

10.7 Grounds of religion or belief

There is no eligibility for transport assistance for pupils on the grounds of religion or belief, except in relation to low income families (see section 3.5).

10.8 Transport during the school / college day

Transport is only provided Monday to Friday. The only exception to this may be instances where weekend travel is required for pupils/students who are boarders at residential schools. Transport is provided at the start and end of the normal school or college day. Transport will not be provided for journeys made during the school/college day.

Travel assistance will not be provided outside of the pre-agreed timetable. Examples of circumstances where travel assistance will not be provided are:

  • to enable pupils/students to undertake work experience, work placements, apprenticeships or traineeships
  • to enable the pupil/student to attend any off-site provision arranged by the school/college
  • to transfer the pupil/student between the main school/college site and a satellite site during the normal school or college day
  • for induction or taster days
  • to take students home after extra-curricular activities or detentions
  • for students who are taken ill at school/college to enable them to return home
  • to enable students to attend medical or dental appointments

In the above circumstances the school, college or parent/carer, as appropriate, must make their own arrangements and pay for transport.

10.9 Transport timing

Appropriate transport arrangements will be made based on the age and needs of the child. Pick-up and drop-off times cannot be rescheduled to take into account other family commitments. Parents/carers who are unable to be home at the specified pick-up and drop-off times and location will have to make alternative arrangements.

Pupils/students receiving mainstream transport assistance are expected to walk up to 1 mile to their pick up point, with or without a parent/carer as appropriate. The pick up point for SEND pupils/students may be a short distance from their home address.

Parents/carers are responsible for ensuring their child is at the pick-up point near their home and for accompanying their child to/from this point where required. Where necessary, parents/carers are responsible for ensuring they are waiting to meet their child at the setting down point on the return (homeward) journey. SEND transport guidelines are published on our website.

10.10 Transport for pupils/students with SEND transferring to a different school

Where an eligible pupil or student with SEND receives Council funded travel assistance, this is arranged from home to the designated school/setting only. When an eligible pupil or student with SEND transfers to a different school/setting, Council funded travel assistance will be withdrawn and the pupil’s/student’s eligibility for Council funded travel assistance from their home to the new school/setting will be assessed.

The parent/carer will need to make suitable travel arrangements while eligibility to the new school/setting is assessed. If the pupil/student is not eligible for Council funded travel assistance to the new school/setting, the parent/carer is responsible for their child’s travel arrangements, including the cost of those arrangements.

If a pupil or student is confirmed as being eligible for travel assistance to their new school/setting, their travel needs may be reassessed. It can take up to 15 working days from the date that the travel needs assessment is completed to make Council funded travel assistance arrangements. During this time, the parent/carer is responsible for school attendance.

10.11 Changes to school transport due to severe weather

If a school decides it needs to close early or not open because of severe weather, we will attempt to advise parents/carers of these changes by email and SMS text messaging, using the contact details we hold. This may not always be possible especially in the case of larger schools. The school will advise parents/carers of their procedures in the event of an emergency closure.

In severe weather conditions, the transport operator is the sole judge of whether to begin or complete a school transport journey, giving priority to the safety of the pupils/students on the vehicle.

Parents/carers must ensure that the pupil/student is appropriately dressed in case the journey to or from school is very slow or even halted in severe weather.

In the event that transport is not able to operate in the morning because of adverse weather conditions, but a parent/carer nevertheless decides to take the pupil/student to school, then they are expected to make their own arrangements to collect the pupil/student either at the end of the day or at the time of early closure.

Drivers are required to seek the safest route and may therefore make changes to the normal routes in order to stay on major roads or to avoid specific hazards. They are instructed that they must only set-down pupils/students at specific set-down points. Where transport is not able to access the predetermined set-down point due to severe weather, passengers may be required to leave the vehicle at an alternative safe location.

Where these arrangements are made, any problems with bus routes will be available online at the following links:

For school closures: Council arranged transport

For changes to bus routes: Public buses

Where a road is too hazardous for school transport in the morning due to severe weather conditions, the transport operator is under no obligation to attempt the afternoon run. Parents/carers would be informed if this is the case so they can make alternative arrangements to collect their child from school.

10.12 Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Checks

Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks are carried out on all drivers and passenger assistants prior to them being employed on Home to School Transport contracts. Following a satisfactory check and appropriate safeguarding training and other relevant training, an identity badge will be issued to drivers and passenger assistants by the Council which is worn at all times as proof of approval to undertake the work. If a driver or passenger assistant cannot produce their badge, you should notify the Client Transport Team immediately on 01296 387 439 and not let your child travel in the vehicle.

If you have any concerns regarding the behaviour of drivers or passenger assistants, report this by completing the school transport Contact us form.

10.13 Safety of Transport Arrangements

The Council will monitor the routes and vehicles used to ensure that they are fit for purpose and do not pose a risk to anyone travelling on the vehicle or using the route to travel to school. Any vehicle or route found to be unsafe will be withdrawn and alternative arrangements made until normal service can be resumed. The Council reserves the right to make changes to routes and types of travel as necessary.

If you are concerned regarding the safety of a route, you can report this by completing the school transport Contact us form.

10.14 Identification of new routes

The Council reserves the right to review all routes in light of any changes to the Admissions Policies or areas of new housing. If such changes mean that a pupil/student will no longer be eligible for Council funded travel assistance then they will be given one half term’s notice from the date of notification to the parent/carer before Council funded travel assistance is withdrawn.

Examples of change could include the building of new roads or housing developments, opening of new or repairs to existing footpaths, or changes to the safety of a route as determined by the Council.

10.15 Journey Times

The Council will make every effort to ensure that travelling times to and from school are a maximum of:

  • 45 minutes each way at primary school age;
  • 75 minutes each way at secondary school age

The distances involved mean that some pupils/students will have longer journeys. As return journeys are not constrained by specific times, homeward journeys may be quicker than advertised. Every effort is made to ensure that the waiting time on school premises, before and after school, and at pick up and set down points, does not exceed 20 minutes.

Parents/carers will receive a schedule of journey pick up times, and will be notified if there are any changes.

10.16 Data Protection

The Data Protection Act 2018 and UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR) regulates the way we use your personal information.

You provide this information when you seek services from, or come into contact with us. The Act provides a legal framework to the way we handle this data. Data Protection compliance is not an activity that is done once and we regularly review our compliance.

The Council employs a Data Protection Officer. Our data protection policy can be found here: data protection.

10.17 Parents/Carers of pupils or students with SEND who are not at home

In the event that parents/carers of pupils/students with SEND are not at home when the pupil/student is returning from school, the driver or passenger assistant will notify the Council’s Client Transport team to seek advice. Where possible, they will continue their route and make a return visit to the family home to check if the parent or carer has returned.

If the parent/carer has not returned by the end of the route, the driver or passenger assistant will contact the Client Transport team to inform them of the situation. The Client Transport team will then inform the Head Teacher and/or the relevant Social Care team. Drivers and passenger assistants will receive further instructions following the advice given by the Head Teacher and may be required to travel back to school to leave the pupil/student with an appropriate adult. In all cases, a note will be left for the parent/carer containing details of who they should contact and the whereabouts of the pupil/student.

If an incident happens after 5pm Monday to Thursday, and after 4.30pm on a Friday, contact will be made with the Social Care Emergency Duty Team. All incidents will be recorded and considered by the Council.

10.18 Passenger Assistants for pupils/students with SEND

Passenger assistants are responsible for the supervision of pupils/students to and from school. They will oversee the pupil’s/student's conduct and safety in such a way that the driver is able to drive the vehicle safely. The role of the passenger assistant is to help the driver to ensure the pupil/student can access their transport provision in a safe and appropriate way.

The needs of each individual pupil/student will be assessed to determine whether they will require supervision by a passenger assistant. There is no minimum and maximum age that determines whether a passenger assistant is required.

Passenger assistants receive training to understand the needs of pupils/students placed in their care. All Council passenger assistants are subject to an Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check . SEND transport guidelines are published on our website.

Every effort will be made to ensure that the same passenger assistant and driver continue to transport a pupil/student. We understand disruption can be unsettling and will do our best to minimise changes. This may not always be possible and changes may need to be made, for example as a result of staff unavailability/staff turnover/contract renewals.

The passenger assistant is not responsible for the administration of routine medical aid/medication during the journey. If an eligible pupil/student has a medical condition which will require the administration of routine medical aid/medication during the journey, the Council will make suitable transport arrangements. Alternatively, the parent or carer could choose to receive a Personal Transport Budget and arrange their own transport.

10.19 Residential Schools

The frequency of transport for pupils/students in 52-week placements will be determined on a case by case basis.

The frequency of transport for pupils/students in a standard 40 week placement will depend on the number of weeks in the school calendar. The following numbers are for guidance only:

  • termly Boarders: 2 journeys each term, 6 journeys per academic year
  • half Termly Boarders: 2 journeys each half term, 12 journeys per academic year
  • fortnightly Boarders: 2 journeys each fortnight, 38 journeys per academic year
  • weekly Boarders: 2 journeys each week, 76 journeys per academic year

Where a pupil/student is unable to make their journey to school due to sickness or family matters and the Council has been informed at least 24 hours before the journey is due to take place, the journey will be provided at an alternative date agreed between the Transport Officer and the parent/carer. A parent/carer will be expected to make their own transport arrangements if the Council is notified less than 24 hours before the journey is due to take place.

10.20 Expected level of behaviour for all pupils/students

We aim to ensure the safety and well-being of all pupils/students travelling on Home to School Transport. All pupils/students using Council organised transport are expected to meet standards of behaviour that will ensure their own safety and that of other passengers. The Council will work in partnership with schools and other educational settings to promote appropriate standards of behaviour and pupils/students being transported will be expected to follow the same behaviour codes as they do when in school or other educational settings. Behaviour that does not meet our standards will be monitored and appropriate action taken.

When behaviour first becomes an issue dialogue with the parents/carers and the school/educational setting will begin, with a view to resolving issues prior to any further action being taken. If the issues are not resolved, parents/carers will be notified when transport will be suspended or withdrawn, giving 5 working days’ notice of the suspension/exclusion. This will take the form of a written warning letter, suspension or withdrawal letter. If an incident is of a serious nature the Council reserves the right to withdraw the pupil/student from transport immediately to ensure the safety of the pupil/student and others. In these instances the parent/carer will be notified.

The withdrawal or suspension of transport for a set period would be a matter of last resort. The length of the suspension or withdrawal from home to school transport will be dependent upon the seriousness of the incident.

The decision to suspend or withdraw transport for eligible pupils/students will take into account any special educational needs and disabilities the pupil/student may have that impact on their presenting behaviour. Where this is the case, the Council will work with parents/carers and the pupil/student with SEND (where they have capacity) to identify alternative solutions to safely transport them to their school/ educational setting. As this is an exceptional circumstance, if an immediate solution cannot be identified a Personal Transport Budget may be offered on a temporary basis.

Parents/carers are responsible for transporting their own children during any period of suspension or exclusion from transport due to inappropriate behaviour that is unrelated to any special educational needs and disabilities. No refunds for transport provided under the Spare Seat Scheme will be made during this period.

Behaviour that falls below the required standard includes that which is likely to significantly offend or endanger others, including, but not limited to:

  • serious damage to the vehicle by the pupil/student
  • actions which may constitute a health and safety risk to themselves or others
  • assaults on others
  • verbal, written or online abuse of other people including but not limited to swearing, taunting, racist, sexist, transphobic or homophobic comments, threatening behaviour
  • incitement of others to engage in misbehaviour
  • making repeated malicious false allegations of mistreatment requiring investigation
  • serious misuse of a travel pass including allowing others to use their travel pass
  • failure to comply with the reasonable instructions of the driver, passenger assistant, Council officer, or authorised member of school / establishment staff

During the period of suspension or withdrawal, it is expected that parents/carers take steps to address the behaviour. The parent/carer, pupil/student (where reasonable) and school/educational setting will be consulted on arrangements for the return to transport.

Parents/carers who wish to appeal a decision taken to suspend or withdraw transport should follow the process outlined in the suspension or withdrawal notification letter. This will enable a review of the case.

More detailed information is provided in the Council’s school transport behaviour protocol and terms and conditions of travel.