School transport

also known as: Home to School Transport, School Bus.

Advice for entitlement to Home to School Transport

Home to school transport

Northumberland County Council serves a wide geographical area, incorporating diverse rural and urban communities. Many pupils live at a distance from their school. The County Council has a statutory duty to provide free home to school transport, or where appropriate, pay the cost of such transport when:

Pupils of first school age live more than two miles away from their designated catchment area school by the nearest available route;

Pupils of middle and high school age live more than three miles away from their designated catchment area school by the nearest available route.

Consultation on the harmonisation of school transport eligibility criteria for children aged 8 to 11

The Council is consulting on a range of options regarding changes intended to remove an inconsistency between "two-tier" and "three-tier" schools in the way eligibility for free school transport is determined. These changes would take effect for some students from September 2014.

The consultation document sets out the reasons and background for the consultation and seeks your views on a range of possible options.

A link is provided in the consultation document to a consultation questionnaire for you to complete, or you can complete it below:

View the consultation questionnaire here

View the consultation document here

The consultation runs for 12 weeks and closes on Tuesday 10 June 2014. Please complete the questionnaire by that date to ensure your views are considered.

Consultation on transport to schools chosen for reasons of religion or belief

The Council is consulting on a range of options regarding changes to the policy on transport to schools that have been chosen for reasons of religion or belief. These changes would take effect for some students from September 2014.

The Consultation Document sets out the reasons and background for the consultation and seeks your views on a range of possible options.

A link is provided in the consultation document to a consultation questionnaire for you to complete, or you can complete it below:

View the consultation questionnaire here

View the consultation document here

The consultation runs for 12 weeks and closes on Tuesday 10 June 2014. Please complete the questionnaire by that date to ensure your views are considered.

Consultation on Post-16 Transport Policy for 2014-15

The Council has today begun a consultation on a range of options for the provision of Post-16 Transport that would take effect for some students from September 2014.

The Consultation Document sets out the reasons and background for the consultation and seeks your views on a range of possible options.

A link is provided in the consultation document to a consultation questionnaire for you to complete, or you can complete it below:

The consultation runs for 12 weeks and closes at 9.00 a.m. on Monday 19 May 2014. Please complete the questionnaire by that time/date to ensure your views are considered.

Under 16 transport (mainstream)

To apply online for Mainstream Home to School Transport please click on the link below

5 Apply online for mainstream transport(under 16) here

Or you can contact us here.

Please be aware that applications will be processed in 10 working days.

To apply online for Mainstream Home to School Transport please click on the link below

5 Apply online for mainstream transport(under 16) here

Or you can contact us here.

Children with disabilities and/or special educational needs have the same entitlement as any other pupil within the education system. The County Council may also provide free home to school transport as an adjustment to a disability in cases where the child lives within the statutory walking distance of the school. For further information please refer to the Home to School Transport Policy for Disabled Children and Children with Special Educational Needs (SEN).

Where spare seats are available on vehicles contracted by the County Council, children not entitled to free home to school transport may be allowed to travel on a fare paying basis. Please contact us for more information.

Post 16 transport

The Post 16 transport scheme for the Autumn Term is now closed, any applications received after the 30th September, if eligible, will be allocated transport for the Spring Term.

Northumberland County Council operates a free student travel scheme to help eligible students who are aged between 16 and 19 access further education opportunities.

Entitled students are issued with a travel pass which allows them to make a return journey to and from home to school / college during normal school and college times: weekdays and term time only.

To access the free student travel scheme the student must:

  • Live in Northumberland
  • Be attending a full time course (or at least 12 hours a week)
  • Live more than 3 miles from their course provider
  • Attend a High School Sixth Form, Further Education or Specialist College
  • Be attending a course at a higher level than their previous achievements
  • Have a journey time of less than 75 minutes one way
  • Be attending a course which is the nearest that can meet the majority of their needs

Please note: although the county council offers help and assistance with transport costs for students in post 16 education, responsibility for making appropriate transport arrangements rests with students and their parents.

How can I apply?

Students need to read and make sure they understand the post 16 transport policy before they apply for the scheme. There are 3 ways to apply for the scheme:

1. Apply online by clicking here to apply online for your School Bus pass

5 Apply online for Post 16 transport here

2. Request an application pack by emailing Post16Transport@northumberland.gov.uk or you can contact us here.

3. Pick up an application pack from your school or college

Alternatively you can write to Post 16, Transport Network Team, Integrated Transport Unit, Local Services Directorate, County Hall, Morpeth, NE61 2EF

If you have special needs, you may be eligible for free transport up to the age of 25. You will normally be given help to develop your independent travel skills and will be expected to obtain and use your concessionary pass.

A student with special educational needs can be provided if they have a transport requirement specified in the statement of special educational needs and is supported by a referral from their Personal Advisor.

Frequently asked questions

How much does the travel pass cost?

If the student meets the conditions detailed in the Post 16 Transport Policy, the travel pass is issued free of charge. There is however a charge for replacement passes.

When can I apply for transport support?

Students can apply for their pass from 1st May for the start of the next academic year. However, students can apply throughout the year, with their pass being issued for the start of the next term.

The closing dates for applications for each term are:

- Passes valid for term 1 – apply by 30th September.

Any applications received after this date will be awarded from the start of Term 2.

- Passes valid for term 2 – apply by January 31st.

Any applications received after this date will be awarded from the start of Term 3

- Passes valid for term 3 – apply by March 31st.

The scheme closes completely on the 31st March each year. However, if you have moved house or can prove you have started a course after the deadline we may be able to help.

We strongly recommend that students apply BEFORE the exam results come out, where possible. We cannot guarantee you will have your pass for the start of term is you wait to get your results first.

How quickly will I receive my pass?

During non-peak times, we aim to have processed all eligible applications within 10 working days of the receipt of a correctly completed application form.

During peak times (August and September) it may take up to 15 working days to process eligible applications.

Students are responsible for any fares incurred before the pass is issued up until 10 or 15 working days (depending on when the student applies) have elapsed from the date the form is received by the council.

What type of transport will be allocated?

The county council will decide which type of transport to provide for you.

A travel pass for bus services will normally be issued, however taxis, trains or parental / student’s own vehicles may be considered if they are the cheapest available option.

Students are expected to walk up to one mile to their nearest main pick up points to/from school/college. Feeder transport may be provided where necessary.

How much does the travel pass cost?

The travel pass is free of charge for those students who are eligible. There is a charge for replacement passes.

Replacement passes

If your pass is lost or stolen then please contact us to arrange a replacement. We will replace any ‘in house’ passes directly for an administration charge of £10.

All external passes will be replaced by the company who supply them, please contact our team for details. Charges made by the external companies will need to be paid by the student directly to the company.

What should I do if my circumstances change?

If you move house or change course, you must let us know straight away. It means that we need to check you are still eligible for your pass and if so, that we are providing the best means of transport.

What if I want to appeal?

If you are not eligible for free transport, you will be sent a letter advising you of the reason why and how you can appeal the decision if you feel you need to.

Appeals must be made 10 working days after the receipt of the refusal letter. Please follow the appeal process outlined in the letter as we are not able to discuss individual cases with you over the phone.

If your appeal is rejected, you may appeal to an independent panel.

How are distances determined?

Distance measurements will be undertaken using the Council’s computerised Geographical Information System (GIS) and will be taken from the entrance to a student’s home address (e.g. front gate) to the nearest entrance on the school/college site which is available to students at the time of undertaking the assessment.

The route used will be the shortest, safest and most suitable walking route as identified by GIS at that time. In order to ensure consistency and fairness the distance criteria is strictly adhered to.

What happens if I move house?

You must inform us straight away if you move house or your circumstances change in any way.

It means that we need to check you are still eligible for your pass and if so, that we are providing the best means of transport.

If a new pass is sent to the wrong address (because we were not informed of a change of circumstance) any admin charge we incurred will need to be paid by the student. A new pass will not be reissued until that charge has been paid.

Can I apply if I am 18 and attending university?

You would not qualify for a pass because you are attending University and the scheme is for college and sixth form students only.

What times during the day can I use my travel pass?

When you are given your pass, it will say which route it is valid for and this will involve specific times. Passes only cover travel at the start and end of the main education day and do not include extra-curricular activities or access to extended services. Requests for transport outside normal hours will be considered on an individual basis.

Students are responsible for any fares incurred before the pass is issued up until 10/15 working days (depending on when a student applies) have elapsed from the date the form is received by Northumberland County Council.

Special Education Needs transport

The LEA provides a home to school transport service for pupils:

  • With special educational needs up to the age of 19
  • With medical needs up to the age of 19
  • Who are excluded from school
  • Who have a diagnosed phobia of school
  • Who are pregnant or schoolgirl mothers

The transport is provided in a number of ways:

  • Free travel permits for public transport -Specialist mini-bus, e.g. tail-lift vehicle
  • Mini-bus from home to school -Wheelchair accessible taxi -Taxi/people carrier

Entitlement to transport for children is based on an assessment of individual need. The Local Education Authority has produced a standard form for completion as part of the assessment process, which will be completed by the professionals in discussion with parents and carers. The information provided allows the transport staff to make an informed decision on the type of vehicle that will be provided, the correct restraint and clamping systems that will be used and the level of supervision/care.

If it is decided that the child's special needs do not require special transport arrangements then the general home to school distance policy will apply.

Transport arrangements will be regularly kept under review. The annual review required for those children with a statement of special educational needs provides a formal opportunity to review any transport arrangements.

If parents choose to send their child to a school that the Local Education Authority does not consider to be the nearest suitable school, there is no duty to provide free transport. In such circumstances parents will be required to make their own transport arrangements or pay to access services.

The LEA does, however, retain its discretion to provide free transport or to make a contribution to parents towards the cost.

Information for parents during periods of severe weather

During periods of severe weather there may be School closures or disruption to your child's Home to School Transport.

In these circumstances do you know what to do?

Here are some tips:

Details of school closures are also given on:

  • Metro Radio
  • BBC Tyne
  • Real Radio North East
  • Capital FM
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Northumberland iPhone app

In extreme cases a school may have to close during the day due to the severe weather and your child will be sent home early.

You could:

  • Make arrangements with a relative or close friend to care for your child until you are able to get home.
  • Inform the school and transport provider of these arrangements as it may be necessary for your child to seek alternative transportation from school
  • Make sure the School and Transport provider have an "In Case of Emergency" contact telephone number

Above all, make sure your child is aware of the arrangements

Dress code

It is important that you make sure your child is warmly dressed just in case the School Transport is running late or the journey is very slow.

Waiting time

In periods of severe weather a child should wait 30 minutes after their normal pick up time for school transport, after 30 minutes it is advisable for the child to return home.

Communication

It is important that the school is informed that your child has returned home after waiting 30 minutes for the transport to arrive. Make sure you have your transport providers contact details and they have I.C.E (In Case of Emergency) contact numbers for you.

Responsibility

If you take your child to school in the morning it is your responsibility to collect them in the afternoon.

Important

It is important for parents to have a contingency plan in place if they are not at home when a child returns home. For example: A buddy scheme or a family friend or relative who the child can go to until the parent/carer returns home

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