Home-to-school travel support for reception to year 11

We help with school transport costs and arrangements for children and young people who meet eligibility criteria.

There are different eligibility rules for children in reception though to year 11 and for young people refer to Home-to-school travel support for sixth form and college students.

Home-to-school travel support - reception to year 11

Children in reception to year 11 classes get home-to-school travel support if they meet eligibility criteria.

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When you apply for home-to-school travel support, we will check the application against all our criteria. You can only get home-to-school travel support if the child is going to the nearest suitable school. 

1. Distance

The law sets out the distances children can be expected to walk to school. This means children can get travel assistance if the walking distance is:

  • more than 2 miles for children below the age of 8
  • more than 3 miles for children aged 8 - 16

2. No available walking route

If the child lives within the distance criteria but all routes to the nearest suitable school are classed as 'unavailable', the child will be eligible for home-to-school travel support. For us to class a route as unavailable, the route must be exceptionally dangerous even when the child is with a responsible person. By law, parents have a responsibility to go with their child on the journey to school if needed.

For this reason, routes will not be classed as unavailable only because of one or more of the following:

  • the route is lonely
  • personal safety concerns
  • the route passes close to a canal, river, ditches, lakes, ponds etc.
  • the route requires railway crossing(s), if a suitable authorised crossing is present

The absence of street lighting on its own does not make a route unsafe.

Where a route follows a public right of way and has a good walking surface, we usually consider this to be an available walking route.

Our assessment of walked routes to school is based on:

3. The family is in financial hardship

Your child has a right to home-to-school travel support if they get free school meals or you get the maximum level of Working Tax Credit, and if any of the following distance criteria apply:

  • they are aged 8-11 and the nearest school is more than 2 miles away
  • they are aged 11-16, the nearest school is between 2 and 6 miles away, and there are fewer than three suitable nearer schools
  • they are aged 11-16 and the school is between 2 and 15 miles away and is the nearest school that meets your religious preferences

4. Special educational needs and disability (SEND) criteria

Children with special educational needs or disabilities do not automatically get home-to-school travel support. We look at their travel needs as part of their Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP). They may be eligible for home-to-school travel support between home and school if they cannot reasonably be expected to walk to school because of their mobility problems or because of associated health and safety concerns related to their SEN or disability.

If your child is not eligible for home-to-school travel support

Options for children who are not eligible for assistance with school transport

You can apply for home-to-school travel support at any time using our online form. Parents/carers are responsible for getting their child to school while we assess the application and make arrangements. We do not refund travel expenses.

For applications for the current school year, we normally make decisions, confirm arrangements and send out any travel passes within 14 days. It may take longer at the start of term and during peak periods. 

If you are applying for next September, we would advise you to complete an application as soon as possible, but by the end of April at the latest.  This will enable us to tell you our decision as early as possible, and enable us to plan arrangements for the new academic year. We will confirm arrangements and send travel passes in August.

If your child has an Education, Health and Care Plan do not use this form - please send an email to educationtravelpolicies@cheshireeast.gov.uk. The team will assess whether your child is eligible for home-to-school travel support. They may refer you to our Travel Assistance Panel for a decision.

Apply for school transport

You do not need to renew home-to-school travel support. It continues until your child reaches the end of their current phase of education, either primary or secondary school unless either:

  • your circumstances change
  • the child was younger than 8 and eligible because their journey was between 2 and 3 miles - home-to-school travel support will end at the age of 8 (we review this automatically at the end of year 3)

You will need to reapply when your child moves from primary to secondary school.

More information about reception to year 11 travel

Compulsory school age travel policies

Types of travel arrangements

We provide the most cost-effective travel arrangements that will enable the child to reach school safely, reasonably stress-free and ready for a day of study. 

We would aim for a primary school child to travel for up 45 minutes in total and a secondary school child up to 75 minutes.

Travel assistance is only for the usual school start and finish times. You are responsible for travel arrangements and costs for any other journeys needed.

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Where there is a suitable commercial bus or rail service your child can use, we normally issue a travel pass.

We provide travel by minibus or taxi if there is no reasonable alternative.

Pick-up points

Pick-up points can be up to a mile from the child's home, unless the child has special needs or disabilities that mean they need door-to-door support. Your child may get a travel pass for their transport.

It is the parent/carer’s responsibility to ensure that the child/young person is at the agreed pick up point and to get them to school if they miss the arranged transport. We do not make alternative arrangements.

Shared routes

Taxis and minibuses are usually shared with other children, to make best use of public funds. We work out the most cost-effective routes based on where children live and which schools they go to. Normally children will share with others going to the same school, but sometimes they may share with children going to different schools. 

If it is the most cost-effective option for us and you accept the offer, we will make regular payments for you to use to help you to make arrangements to get your child to school. We will contact you if you are eligible for a Personal Travel Budget (PTB), formerly known as a “cash grant” or “direct payment”.

The payment is based on an amount per mile of the journey, allowing for 2 journeys to the school and back each school day for up to 190 days each school year. The current mileage rate for both direct payments and personal budgets is 45p per mile. The rate takes into account HMRC guidance to avoid personal tax liability, and we review this every year.

If your child is already getting home-to-school transport, you can contact us to ask us to consider a Personal Travel Budget. 

More information about personal travel budgets

Education travel payment policy.

Behaviour code on school transport

We work closely with schools and operators to encourage a good standard of behaviour and respect on school transport. Any bad behaviour or rule-breaking on the journey to and from school will be treated seriously and could result in your child being temporarily or permanently banned from travelling.

For full details, see our Educational travel behaviour code.

Complaints about school transport services

School transport complaints

Travel Assistance Panel for SEND applications

Applications for home-to-school travel support for children and young people with an EHCP are reviewed at our Travel Assistance Panel (TAP). The panel meets regularly and includes representation from the SEND team, to ensure we understand each young person’s needs and requirements.

If you are not eligible for home-to-school travel support

We will tell you about other travel options if you are not eligible for home-to-school travel support. These may include:

How to apply for school transport flowchart (PDF, 109KB)

Reviews and appeals

You may ask us to review our decision if we refuse your application.

Contact the school transport team

For queries about eligibility for children in reception through to year 11 with an EHCP , you can discuss this with your child’s SEND key worker in the first instance, or you can contact the Education Travel Policies team.

For other enquiries regarding home-to-school transport, you can email schooltransport@cheshireeast.gov.uk or phone 0300 123 5012

Page last reviewed: 12 October 2023