School transport

Here you will find advice about entitlement to home to school transport.

School transport information, policies and advice on eligibility and how to apply.

Welcome to the School Transport section.

This page contains advice about how to  find out whether your child is eligible for free school transport and how to access school transport services.

You will also find our Home to School Travel and Transport Policy and our Post 16 Transport Policy.

If you have any questions about school transport, our FAQ section may be helpful.
Apply for pre-16, post-16 or post-16 SEN transport.

Below are Online Application forms for Pre 16 School Transport, Post 16 Travel Scheme and Post 16 Special Educational Needs Transport. Please make sure you have read and understood the relevant transport policy before applying.

Advice on what to do if your school transport assistance application is declined.

If your application for transport assistance for your child is declined you will be sent an email explaining why. You have the right to ask for a review of this decision. The review is a two stage process.

At stage one you can challenge a decision about:
  • Your child’s eligibility
  • The measurement of statutory walking distances
  • The safety of the walking route   
You can also appeal when the provision of transport has been agreed by the County Council but you want the travel arrangements offered reviewed. 

A request for a review must be made clearly, in writing, about why you believe that Northumberland County Council should reconsider their decision, including any information that might support your case. 

More information about the appeals process can be found in section 20 of the Home to School Travel and Transport Policy and section 14 of the Post-16 Transport Policy.

Download the school transport appeals process here
During periods of severe weather, there may be school closures or disruption to the home-to-school transport.

Updates will be provided via the following:

Northumberland County Council website school closures page.
Northumberland County Council homepage for weather updates

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

Do you have a procedure in place for the care of your child in the event of school disruption?

It's important to be prepared in the event of disruption to the school transport service:

  • 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 that the school and transport provider has an emergency contact number.
  • Ensure your child is aware of these arrangements.

One or two things to consider - school disruption

Suitable clothing
Ensure your child is warmly dressed, just in case the school transport is running late, or the journey is slow.

Waiting time
During periods of severe weather, a child should wait 20 minutes after their normal pick-up time for school transport. After 20 minutes, it is advisable for the child to return home.

Let the school know that your child has returned home after waiting 20 minutes for transport to arrive. Make sure that you have the contact details of your transport providers and that they have emergency contact numbers for you.

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

Forward planning
It’s important for parents to have a plan in place, if they are not home when a child returns. For example: a buddy scheme, or a family friend or relative who the child can go to until the parent or carer returns home.

Guidance on acceptable behaviour on school transport.

Whilst schools will promote appropriate standards of behaviour by children on their way to and from school, it is a parental responsibility to make sure that a child behaves appropriately on a school bus or taxi.  

Children who misbehave on school transport may have their entitlement/pass removed. Depending on the nature of the offence, this could be for a temporary period of time or even permanently.

You can read more in detail about the appropriate behaviour expected on school transport by reading section 19 of the Home to School Travel and Transport policy.

Download the school transport behaviour expectations leaflet here.

The following contains information and links to the major suppliers of local bus services in Northumberland.

For information about local bus services operating across Northumberland, including services that cross-border into the Tyne & Wear, visit Nexus.

Help with journey planning can also be found at Traveline North East.

The local bus service providers below will be able to provide further information on their ticket offers for students. 

Arriva - post-16 school travel - zones and tickets

Stagecoach - post-16 school travel

Go North East - post-16 school travel

Glen Valley

Borders Buses Ltd

Travelsure Coaches Ltd

PCL Travel Ltd

Information about the training requirements for drivers and passenger assistants on school transport.

The council will make sure that drivers and (where provided) passenger assistants receive appropriate briefings and training on a child’s needs to ensure that the school transport service is delivered safely and appropriately.

When transport is arranged for children by Northumberland County Council, the appointed taxi or bus operator must only employ drivers and passenger assistants who are in receipt of an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.

In addition they must also attend:
  • briefing on driver/passenger assistant code of conduct including Child Safeguarding
  • emergency CPR and anaphylaxis awareness training
  • training on how to correctly load and secure a wheelchair and apply a passenger restraint (when transporting children  in wheelchairs)
  • disability awareness training (when transporting children with special educational needs and/or disabilities)
  • child-specific training as and when required, e.g. managing challenging behaviour or training in the administration of rescue medication in the case of a child with a diagnosis of epilepsy or diabetes 
For more information about drivers and passenger transport assistants and how they are briefed and trained, please read section 17 of the Home to School Travel and Transport Policy.

A copy of the drivers’ code of conduct can be downloaded here

Questions and answers about all aspects of home to school travel

Once you have received confirmation that your school transport application has been successful, transport arrangements will usually be put in place within 10 working days. The exception to this is when you apply for school transport that is required from the start of a new academic year. In this case you will be informed of your child’s new transport arrangements during the summer holidays.  

Once your child’s place at their new school is confirmed we would strongly advise you to submit your application as early as possible. This should ensure school transport is in place for your child for the new school term beginning in September. If applications are received late into the summer holidays we may not be able to have travel arrangements in place for your child. It will then become your responsibility to ensure children attend school until your transport application has been processed and travel arrangements confirmed. 

If you submitted your application in good time and have not heard from us then please contact the school transport team. Alternative ways of contacting the school transport team are provided at section 23 of the policy.

Download the home to school transport policy.
The type of travel assistance offered will be determined by the Council Council, making the best use of public funds available and paying due regard to a child’s well-being.

This would normally be a place on a school bus or taxi service commissioned by the County Council, but other options include:
  • season tickets to enable travel on local bus or rail services
  • travel allowances paid to parents to transport their own children to and from school

In some cases, where it is agreed to provide travel support for a child living relatively close to school they may be provided with a passenger assistant to accompany them on the walk to and from school.  

Further information is provided in sections 14-16 of the Home to School Travel and Transport Policy.

Download the home to school travel policy  

If your child has lost or damaged their bus pass,  you will be required to replace it at your own cost. If the bus pass is produced by Northumberland County Council, please call the contact centre on 0345 6006400,

For passes issued for travel by ARRIVA, contact the Business Administration Team at Arriva on 0191 520 4144 . For  GO NORTH EAST passes, contact Go North East Customer Services 0191 420 5050.

Generally speaking, the council only provides free transport to children who:
  • are of compulsory school age
  • are a resident of Northumberland
  • attend their nearest and appropriate qualifying school, or
  • attend their nearest school chosen on grounds of religion or belief
  • live beyond the statutory walking distance for their age, or
  • live within the statutory walking distance for their age but the walking route is deemed “unavailable” for safety reasons by the council, or
  • qualify for “extended rights” on the grounds of low income, or
  • are unable to walk to school as a result of their disability, special educational needs or mobility problems

For more information about eligibility, please read section 4 of the Home to School Travel and Transport policy.

There is a separate policy outlining travel assistance that is available for Post-16 students. Eligibility criteria can be found in Annex 1.

In general, for a student to qualify for travel support they will need to be:
  • a resident of Northumberland and undertaking a course of study at their nearest learning provider which is located more than three miles from their home address
  • aged 16 years old or over, but under 19 on 31 August 2019 and 
  • starting a course in Y13 or earlier and 
  • on a course which is full time, at a higher level than previous studied and equates to foundation learning 1, 2 or 3

An administration fee of £50 is payable at the point of submitting an application and is non-refundable. Please ensure you meet all the eligibility criteria before submitting an application for Post-16 transport. 

Click here to view our Post-16 Transport Policy

Northumberland College has arranged a number of its own bus services. If your child is attending Northumberland College and your application for Post-16 transport has been declined by Northumberland County Council, you may be able to get travel assistance through the Northumberland College.

Contact Northumberland College Student Infozones which are available at the Ashington and Kirkley Hall sites or call 01670 841 200.
A new application should be submitted when your child moves to a new address. The application will be assessed based on the eligibility criteria that can be found in the Home to School Travel and Transport Policy, section 4.

Council policy states that if a parent chooses to apply for a place at a school outside their child's catchment area, they are wholly responsible for making home to school transport arrangements, unless the preferred school is closest to the home address as measured by the County Council’s approved GIS measuring system.

Information on school catchment areas can be found on the school admissions webpage.

For more information around parental preference for a school, read section 6 of the home to school travel policy.

In some cases it may be possible for you to purchase unoccupied seats on vehicles deployed on school transport contracts in accordance with the terms of the County Council’s Concessionary Travel Scheme.

Click here to read the terms of the concessionary travel scheme. 

If, after reading the terms of the travel scheme you are interested in applying please contact the school transport team on 01670 624 839. We will advise you if spare seats are available to purchase on a school bus or taxi in return for the concessionary fare.