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Mail :
School Transport Section
Dept. for Children's Services
Plymouth City Council
Plymouth PL1 2AA
Phone :
01752 308770
Email :
Fax :
01752 307386

School road traffic sign

School transport

A guide to school transport in Plymouth

Who is responsible for getting a child to school?

The legal responsibility for ensuring that a child attends school rests with the parents. Plymouth City Council has a duty in some cases to assist with transport to and from school.

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Who qualifies for assistance?

Pupils of compulsory school age are entitled to free school transport if they live beyond the statutory walking distance and attend the nearest school designated by the Local Authority (LA) to serve the home address.

Within Plymouth there are very few pupils attending mainstream schools who qualify for free travel. This is because nearly every address in Plymouth is within walking distance of the nearest school.

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How far is walking distance?

For a child under eight years of age the walking distance is two miles from home to the school. For a child aged eight or over the walking distance is three miles.

Walking distance is measured by the shortest available route, from the nearest entrance to the home (for example front gate), to the nearest school entrance.

The Courts have defined an available route as one 'along which a child accompanied as necessary can walk and walk with reasonable safety to school. It does not fail to qualify as 'available’ because of dangers which would arise if the child is unaccompanied'.

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What if a child does not attend the nearest school?

If as a result of parental preference, a child attends a school other than the nearest school designated by the Local Authority to serve the home address, free transport will not be provided. Parents are then responsible for making their own transport arrangements and for all transport costs for the whole time the child is attending the school.

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Is there any assistance for pupils attending faith schools?

There is no additional support available for a child attending a faith school. If you are on a low income please see the section below giving details of assistance available under the low income policy.

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What assistance is available for pupils with special educational or medical needs?

Pupils who have a statement of special educational needs are not automatically entitled to free transport. Each pupil will be individually assessed according to their need. The child must be attending the nearest school to meet their needs. This may be a special school or unit allocated by the authority, or a mainstream school. If a child's needs can be met at a mainstream school transport will only be considered to the mainstream school which is nearest to the home address.

Transport may be provided where either:

  • the child's home to school distance qualifies him/her; or
  • for shorter distances, where the child has a special need or medical condition that would prevent him/her walking the required distance to school.

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I am on a low income, is there any additional help available?

Yes, your child may be entitled to free travel to school if you meet the eligibility criteria below:

Primary school age pupils

In order to qualify for free travel the following criteria must be met:

  • The pupil must be attending their nearest primary school (this includes attending a school which is based on the parents religion or belief) and
  • The distance from home to school measures more than two miles on the shortest available walking route and
  • The pupil is eligible for free school meals or the family are in receipt of the maximum award of Working Tax Credit.

Secondary school age pupils age 11 to 16 (year group 7 to 11)

In order to qualify for free travel the following criteria must be met:

  • The pupil must be attending one of their three nearest schools and
  • The distance from home to the school attended measures between two and six miles (the upper limit is extended to 15 miles for pupils attending the nearest school which is based on the parent’s religion or belief) and
  • The pupil is eligible for free school meals or the family are in receipt of the maximum amount of working tax credit

Free travel granted on the above criteria will be reassessed on an annual basis.

You can check if your child is attending the nearest, or one of the three nearest schools using the Directgov website.

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Is there any help available if I move house?

Under normal circumstances the student would be expected to move to a nearer school. However, if the student moves house when they are in Years 10 or 11 there may be some assistance available if they meet the following criteria:

  • The student was attending the nearest school prior to the move taking place, and
  • The move was not a voluntary move, and
  • The distance is more than three miles from home to school

How do I make an application for free travel?

Application forms are available from the school transport team. Or you can complete the school transport application form online.

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If my application is refused, is there an appeal procedure?

Yes, the Local Authority has a two stage appeal process as follows:

Stage one:

  • Within 20 working days of the refusal you can request a review of the original decision.
  • You will receive notification in writing of the outcome of the review within 20 working days.
  • If your review is unsuccessful you can move to stage two:

Stage two:

  • Within 20 working days of the refusal you can appeal against the decision
  • Your appeal with be considered within 40 working days by an Independent panel consisting of Senior Education Officers
  • The decision of the panel will be notified to you in writing within five working days of the appeal being considered

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What if I don't feel my application or appeal has been dealt with properly?

If you consider that your application or appeal has not been dealt with properly you can complain to the Local Government Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman is an independent organisation which investigates complaints about councils.

Please view the Local Government Ombudsman website for more information or ask at any of the council's enquiry desks for a leaflet.

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Is there any other help available if my child does not qualify for free travel?

Local bus operators offer a range of child single, return, day and season tickets which offer good value for money for regular travellers. You should contact them direct for further information about the best ticket to meet your requirements.

Further information on bus routes and timetables can be obtained from the Traveline website.

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