Free travel to education for children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities

This page gives information about transport for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities, to and from schools, sixth form centres and further education colleges.


General information on home to education transport can be found on the home to school transport page of Durham County Council's website.

Primary, secondary and special schools

Free travel is generally made available to allow children to attend the nearest suitable primary, secondary or special school, where the distance between home and school is:

  • over 2 miles for children aged under 8 years (but we will provide this up until the start of the academic year after the child’s eighth birthday), or
  • more than 3 miles for children aged 8 to 16 years.

Children may be provided with transport to a qualifying school which is within the statutory walking distance.  All relevant circumstances in relation to the child and family will be taken into consideration as to whether the applicant child is an ‘eligible child’ under the relevant legislation.

In addition, for those children with a Statement of Special Educational Needs or an EHC Plan, free transport may also be made available in individual circumstances, in line with our duty to provide such transport, to other than the nearest suitable school as long as this is not incompatible with the efficient use of our resources.

Apply for free school travel

Primary or secondary school with enhanced mainstream provision

 We have some mainstream schools with enhanced provision for children and young people with particular types of special educational needs and disabilities. Details of those schools can be found on the provision for children with special education needs and disabilities page.

Children and young people no longer require a Statement of SEN or an EHC Plan to be considered for a place in one of those schools.

If we offer a child or young person a place in one of the enhanced mainstream provisions, free travel is generally available to the nearest suitable primary or secondary school with that type of provision and where the distance between home and school is:

  • over 2 miles for children aged under 8 years (but we will provide this up until the start of the academic year after the child’s eighth birthday), or
  • more than 3 miles for children aged 8 to 16 years.

Children may be provided with transport to a qualifying school which is within the statutory walking distance.  All relevant circumstances in relation to the child and family will be taken into consideration as to whether the applicant child is an ‘eligible child’ under the relevant legislation.

In addition for those children with a Statement of Special Educational Needs or an EHC Plan, free transport may also be made available in individual circumstances, in line with our duty to provide such transport, to other than the nearest suitable school with that type of provision as long as this is not incompatible with the efficient use of our resources.

National extended transport rights  

For children eligible for free school meals or whose parents receive their maximum level of Working Tax Credit or any level of Universal Credit, national "extended" transport rights apply, please contact the School Places and Admissions Team (Transport Entitlement) for further information.

Post 16 provision

Help is available from a range of sources including ourselves, schools and colleges. Students and parents should contact the various organisations that are relevant to their course of study.

It should be noted that contributions towards travel costs may now come from more than one organisation, therefore, families will be expected to inform us of any support they are likely to receive from all sources, including contributions from families themselves. We will then be able to assess the level of travel assistance that could be offered from us.

Post-16 students may be able to obtain assistance with travel if they are unable to travel independently because:

  • they are unable to access a viable public transport system, or
  • they have Special Educational Needs, a disability or mobility difficulty.

If you are unable to travel independently, to qualify for any Post-16 travel assistance you must meet all of the following criteria.  You:

  • Must live in County Durham, and
  • Must be under 19 years of age at the start of the programme of learning, and
  • undertaking a programme of learning, study or work placement that is full-time (ie at least 540 plus guided learning (planned and funded) hours per year), and
  • Must live more than 3 miles from the school/college (education provider), as measured by Durham County Council, (the 3 mile limit is not applicable to students unable to walk the distance to school/college because of Special Educational Needs, a disability or mobility difficulty); and
  • are expected to attend the nearest establishment that provides the full time programme of learning or work placement that you wish to follow, whilst having had reasonable opportunities to choose between different establishments at which education and training is provided. Assistance with travel may be provided in exceptional circumstances to an establishment that is not the nearest, but is within a reasonable distance of the nearest establishment.

Those students with Special Educational Needs, a disability or mobility difficulty may be eligible for help with travel costs for Post-16 education. The level and type of travel assistance will vary depending upon individual circumstances. A student/student’s family may already be in receipt of some/all of the following which would help to determine the level of funding required from the council:

  • free school meals
  • maximum level of Working Tax Credit
  • any level of Universal Credit
  • any level of Council Tax Reduction
  • any government funding for travel assistance
  • financial or any other support for travel from the school/college to be attended

If a student/parent/carer was eligible for free school meals during the final year of compulsory schooling (and there has been no change in family income) or the parent / carer is in receipt of either:

(i) the maximum level of Working Tax Credit, or
(ii) any level of Universal Credit or
(iii) any level of Council Tax Reduction (previously known an council tax benefit),

we will pay travel assistance in full.

Students in receipt of an allowance for attending college (for example attending higher education courses or attending independent fee-paying establishments (including scholarship schemes) are not entitled to travel assistance.

Apply for transport to sixth form and college

Personal budgets

The parent/carer of a child/young person with an Education, Health and Care Plan, or the young person if he or she is between the ages of 16 and 25 years, has the right to request a personal budget for some or all of the provision. Transport would only be recorded in a Statement of Special Educational Needs or an Education, Health and Care Plan in exceptional circumstances. Transport costs could be considered as part of a personal budget if a child/young person is entitled to free home to school transport or Post-16 travel assistance.

In making a decision, we would have to be satisfied that:

  • any different arrangements would meet the needs of the child/young person; and
  • no additional costs would be incurred by Durham County Council.

It is important to note that if you do wish to have a personal budget, you would need to set up a Direct Payments account. (A member of the Direct Payments team would arrange to meet with you to discuss how this will work). You will need to complete and sign a Direct Payment agreement form. This is a generic agreement that covers a range of requirements for parents/carers who have a Direct Payment from the council for Home to School transport. You will see from it that you would be fully responsible for the safety of your child’s travel and would need to be satisfied that any provider you use has appropriate insurance cover to transport your child(ren) to school safely the driver and passenger assistant must also have full police clearance.  

Once you have procured your own contract, employed a driver (and passenger assistant where required) we would arrange to have the money paid to you via our Direct Payment system.

Getting around

Most of us make a number of different types of journeys every day. These might include travelling to education, training, work, medical appointments or purely for fun. Our getting around page will give you useful information about travel options.

Wherever possible, a young person with learning difficulties and/or disabilities will be encouraged to travel on public transport, especially when this is considered to be a factor in developing their independent, life and social skills.

County Durham Transport Partnership has supported the development of independent travel activity for all students aged 16-19 in full-time education.

The purpose is to:

  • promote independent travel for young people who are currently being provided with transport funded by public bodies
  • introduce independent travel programmes into school and college settings
  • develop materials for independent travel training

Students wishing to access the scheme should contact their school or college.

Who to contact

School Places and Admissions (Transport Entitlement)
Children and Young Peoples Services
Durham County Council
County Hall
Durham
DH1 5UJ

Telephone: 03000 265 896
Email: schooltransportteam@durham.gov.uk

Disclaimer

Durham County Council's Families Information Service does not promote nor endorse the services advertised on this website. Anyone seeking to use/access such services does so at their own risk and may make all appropriate enquiries about fitness for purpose and suitability to meet their needs.
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