Free home to school travel assistance

When you may be eligible for free travel assistance for statutory school aged children.

How to apply for free home to school travel

You do not need to apply for free home to school transport in most cases. We check your child's eligibility when we offer a school place.

In the offer letter, we will tell you if your child qualifies for free travel and advise you of any next steps.

In some cases, you will need to contact us to ask if your child will qualify. You may have:

  • applied to a school directly
  • moved to a new home address.

Or if there has been a change in your circumstance, and you believe your child is eligible.

Most children do not qualify for free travel, so you are responsible for arranging and paying for travel.

Eligibility for free school transport

We will consider:

  • children who are statutory school age (Reception to Year 11)
  • children who will become statutory school aged during their Reception Year (the school year they will reach 5). 
Children are of statutory school age from the term after their fifth birthday until the end of the academic year they turn 16.

Where we provide free transport

We will provide free transport from Oxfordshire homes to the nearest available school for any of the following reasons:

  • the shortest designated route is more than two miles where the child is aged under 8
  • the shortest designated route is more than the statutory walking distance of three miles for children aged 8 and over
  • the route has been assessed as unsafe to walk, even if accompanied by a responsible adult.

Contact us to check the nearest schools to your home address using the shortest designated route.

Home to School Travel and Transport Policy

You can find the full list of criteria in the Home to School Travel and Transport Policy.

See also our eligibility guidance for free home to school transport.

Your responsibility

You are responsible for ensuring your child attends school regularly. You should take your child to school if needed unless there is a good reason why it is unreasonable to expect you to do so.

The nearest available school for transport purposes

We mean physically the nearest school the child is eligible to attend:

  • where there is an available place during the normal admission cycle
  • that provides education appropriate to the age, ability and aptitude of the child
  • provides education appropriate to any SEN that the child may have. 
The nearest suitable school with places available may not be the catchment school for your home address. 

Where the nearest school is outside of Oxfordshire

For some addresses, the nearest school is outside of Oxfordshire. In this case, we will also provide free school transport to the nearest available Oxfordshire school.

Villages

If your address falls within a village assessed by us as a split-village (pdf format, 89Kb), we will provide free travel to both the nearest school and the catchment school.

The school types we consider

We consider the nearest qualifying school to be the nearest:

  • community foundation or voluntary school
  • community or foundation special school
  • non-maintained special school
  • pupil referral unit
  • city technology college (CTC)
  • city college for the technology of the arts (CCTA)
  • academies
  • free schools
  • University Technical Colleges (UTC).

There is no entitlement to transport to the nearest school of a particular type, for example, by gender or faith. Or to the catchment area school if it is not the nearest available school.

We do not consider a school unsuitable because it does not offer the course you want your child to attend, or you are unhappy with its current Ofsted rating.

Nearest school maps

The maps below show the nearest school to an address in a school’s catchment area based on the shortest designated route. This route is the shortest distance from an address to the nearest open school gate measured by our mapping software.

Walking distance and shortest designated route

The shortest designated route is the distance from an address to the nearest open school gate, as measured by our mapping software. This route may include:

  • roads
  • footpaths
  • cycle tracks
  • alleyways
  • public rights of way
  • bridleways. 

The shortest available route is not necessarily a walking or driving route. 

Learn more about how we measure the route.

Assessing the safety of walking routes

The Road Safety Team's Principal Engineer assesses walking routes to schools in Oxfordshire. They use guidance issued by:

  • the Department for Education
  • Road Safety GB's 'Assessment of Walked Routes to School'.

The assessor will look a the route during the time your child will be travelling to school. They may also look at it at home time. They will consider potential risks posed by:

  • traffic
  • road conditions
  • other physical features of the route.

The assessor does not base their assessment on any personal safety factors. 

You are responsible for walking your child to school as necessary.

The type of transport we provide

The Supported Transport Service will contact you to tell you the arrangements. Your child cannot travel on any school transport until Supported Transport Service confirms. 

The transport we offer depends on what's available on existing services. Your child may travel by:

  • taxi
  • minibus
  • coach
  • public bus service bus. 

Families on low income

We provide free transport where pupils are entitled to free school meals, or their parent receives the maximum level of working tax credit and if the child is:

  • aged 8-11 and the nearest suitable school is more than two miles
  • aged 11-16 and the school is between 2-6 miles (and there are not three or more suitable nearer schools)
  • aged 11-16 and the school is between 2-15 miles and is the nearest school preferred on the grounds of religion or belief.

Tax credits

Your income may reduce the amount of tax credits you receive. You will be able to see if you are in receipt of the maximum level of working tax credit by looking at the working tax credit element on your tax credit award statement. There should be a zero reduction due to your income, to receive the maximum level of award.

Appealing a decision

If we tell you that your child is not entitled to free travel, but you believe they are, you can appeal the decision. Learn more about how to appeal for home to school transport.

Transport for young people aged 16-19

We do not have a statutory duty to provide free school travel for young people above statutory school-aged at a school sixth form or college. 

However, we may support young people to access education in some circumstances. The Transport Policy Statement for 2021-22 (pdf format, 193Kb) sets out when and how we may help a young person over 16 with travelling to a school sixth form or college.

From September 2022, the Transport Policy Statement for 2022-23 (pdf format, 260Kb) will set out when and how we may help a young person over 16 with travelling to a school sixth form, or college.

You may find funding for support with transport from the 16-19 Bursary Fund. You will need to contact your school or college direct to apply for funding from the bursary

A large number of commercial bus services serve school sixth forms/colleges and further education colleges.

To buy tickets to travel on these services, contact operators directly. Operators provide a variety of different passes ranging from weekly to annual. 

Raising the participation age (RPA)

In summer 2013, the government increased the age to which all young people in England must continue in education or training – until the end of the academic year in which they turn 17.

In summer 2015, the government increased it until their 18th birthday. Raising the Participation Age (RPA) does not mean that young people must stay in school, and they will be able to participate through three options.

  • Full-time education – whether at a school, college or otherwise.
  • Work-based learning, such as an apprenticeship.
  • Part-time education or training if they are employed, self-employed or volunteering for more than 20 hours a week.

Visit the Oxme.info website to learn more about RPA.