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Who can get free school transport

Some 5-16 year olds in Norfolk will qualify for free travel. This depends on how old your child is, which school they go to and where they live, and whether they have any special educational needs or mobility issues.

All applications are assessed against the criteria set in our  Home to school and college transport policy (PDF) [332KB].

Your child will be entitled to free school transport, if they:

  • Are of compulsory school age (5 to 16 years old) on 1 September or
  • Will be 5 before 1 September 2024 when applying for school year 2023-24 or
  • Will be 5 before 1 September 2025 when applying for school year 2024-25 and
  • Attend the nearest catchment school or the nearest appropriate school with a place as designated by Children's Services and
  • Live more than 2 miles, measured by the nearest walking route to school, when under the age of 8
  • Live more than 3 miles walking distance from school, when aged 8 or over

We will also provide transport for children who are unable to walk to school due to mobility problems or a severe medical condition. This is unless they live close enough to school to be able to make their own way, using a wheelchair or suitable alternative.

We do not provide midday journeys for children attending school part-time.

Families in receipt of a qualifying low income benefit

Free school transport may also be available for families receiving certain benefits.

Children of primary school age from low income families

For children aged eight years and over, who attend their nearest catchment or appropriate school, the qualifying distance will remain two miles if either:

  • They are entitled to free school meals due to their family receiving a qualifying low income benefit
  • Their parents are receiving the maximum level of Working Tax Credit (when reduction due to income is £0.00)

Children of secondary school age from low income families

Children of secondary school age will be entitled to free transport if they:

  • Go to one of three appropriate schools closest to home, between two and six miles away or
  • Go to a school, preferred on grounds of religion or belief that is the nearest of its kind to their home, between 2 and 15 miles away and
  • Are entitled to free school meals or
  • Have parents who are receiving the maximum level of Working Tax Credit (when reduction due to income is £0.00)

Evidence to submit with your application

When you apply, you must include a scan, photocopy or screenshot of a recent letter from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) showing that you are entitled to one of the following benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Employment and Support Allowance (income related)
  • Guaranteed Pension Credit
  • Universal Credit (where earnings element is less than £7,400 annually)
  • The maximum level of Working Tax Credit (when reduction due to income is £0.00)
  • Child Tax Credit but not Working Tax Credit and your annual income, assessed by HM Revenue and Customs, (does not exceed £16,190)

Download an example of a qualifying/non qualifying Working Tax Credit (PDF) [1MB]

If you only have a Tax Credit Annual Review Notice for the current financial year, because you notified the DWP that your circumstances haven't changed since your last full Tax Credit Award, you must send a photocopy or scan of all the following information:

  • Your original Tax Credit Award
  • Your Annual Review notice
  • Your written or emailed confirmation that you have informed the DWP that your circumstances have not changed since your last full Tax Credit Award

We cannot return original documents. Anything you send us is scanned and/or securely destroyed.

Apply for school transport

Raising the participation age to 18

In 2015, the Government increased the age at which young people must continue in education or training to 18.

Although young people must now remain in education or training until they are 18, the government has not increased the age range of free transport available to eligible young people in line with this. Free transport is still only available to eligible children and young people up to age 16.

For further information on raising the participation age please see the Department for Education website.

School who can get

Transport to free schools for pupils aged 5-16

The standard home to school transport policy (PDF) [332KB] applies to free schools.

Travel assistance to free schools can only be considered if a pupil is attending their nearest school or a qualifying school under the low income legislation, provided other criteria such as the minimum distance to be entitled are met.

If travel to school will be solely dependent on one means of transport, eg by car, it is very unlikely that we could help in an emergency, even in exceptionally difficult circumstances.


What to do if your child does not qualify for free transport

Apply for a spare seat

Updated news on our discretionary travel scheme - September 2024

The Government is committed to ensuring that disabled school and college students have the same opportunity to travel on mainstream services with their peers as non-disabled children do. This is why PSVAR (Public Service Vehicles Accessibility Regulations) were introduced in 2000 to improve accessibility onboard buses and coaches designed to carry over 22 passengers.

It is now written in law that from 1 January 2020 we cannot sell seats on vehicles that have more than 22 seats and are not accessible to people who are disabled.

However, we have worked closely with the Department for Transport and bus operators and as long as we have an exemption from PSVAR accessibility regulations for home to school transport and there is room in the vehicle we can consider selling a spare seat.

We may be able to offer your child a spare seat on existing school transport under our discretionary travel scheme if they:

  • Live closer than the minimum distance for their age (two miles for children up to eight years old, three miles for children aged eight and older)
  • Are not attending their catchment or nearest school

The following rules will apply from September 2024:

  • The home to school transport policy will remain the same as before and spare seats will be available to children who are not entitled to free school transport where we can offer them
  • There will be a charge for any seat that is offered as detailed in our information sheet for 2022-23 (PDF) [205KB] and information sheet for 2024-25 (PDF) [161KB].
  • The offer of a spare seat will depend on availability, based on the capacity of a vehicle, the number of eligible children that we need to transport and the vehicle has the correct legislation i.e. an exemption

See our School Transport Policy (PDF) [332KB] for information about the priority order for allocating spare seats.

Although we'll do our best to offer a discretionary place, as per the terms and availability outlined above, we are not responsible for school transport if your child is not attending the catchment or nearest school or they live within the qualifying distances outlined above. Although we will try and give priority to those who have received transport in the previous academic year, if we cannot offer a seat because there is no space, I am afraid our decision is final and there will be no right to appeal.

The Council has never guaranteed transport for anyone who purchases a seat under our discretionary travel scheme and if, during the school year, the seat is needed for a pupil who is entitled to school transport, the discretionary place for your child can be withdrawn at a week's notice. In these circumstances if the place is withdrawn before half term a pro-rata refund will be made of half the contribution made.

We will be able to sell spare seats on accessible vehicles which have a low-floor entry, but as these usually operate as a local bus service you would need to purchase your ticket direct from the operator.

It is very important to always have an alternative plan of getting your child to school if we have to withdraw your seat at a week's notice.

Make a school transport application for 2023-24 or 2024-25

You may find our Alternative travel options page helpful.

Other help

Pupils attending their appropriate school who do not qualify under the general policy for free transport may also be able to get help if:

  • A combination of factors exist relating to the physical nature of the route which makes it unavailable to walk, accompanied as necessary
  • Their family has had to move due to an emergency beyond the family's control
  • The child has mobility problems or a severe medical condition which means they are unable to walk to school, accompanied as necessary

See sections 5.2 and 5.3 of our transport policy (PDF) [332KB] for more information.

Contact us if you have questions about your child's eligibility for free school transport.


Fuel allowances

In some cases parents will provide their own transport to and from school instead relying on us to make transport arrangements.  These arrangements are only agreed for eligible pupils if contracted or public transport is not available and it is the most cost-effective option.

The level of allowance is based on the mileage for two return journeys each day and on the condition that the driver is acting as a volunteer.

The current fuel allowance is 50p per mile.

Payments are calculated on mileage for two return journeys a day.


  • School is five miles from home
  • A return journey is 10 miles
  • Drop-off and pickup journeys total 20 miles
  • 20 x 50p = £10.00 per day fuel allowance

Allowances are paid monthly in arrears on receipt of a claim form authorised by the establishment to confirm attendance.

Submit your claims to:

Travel and Transport
Norfolk County Council
County Hall


What to do if you don't live in Norfolk but your child goes to a school in Norfolk

Contact the county council where you live for help.

If your county council can't help, you can apply to Norfolk County Council under the discretionary travel scheme. You'll need to pay fees for any assistance we provide.


Transport for work experience placements and other activities

We don't provide transport or assistance for pupils to get to work placements or activities outside of normal school hours.

Talk to the person who arranged the placement or activity about travel arrangements.


Transport to induction days

We do not have to provide transport for pupils to attend induction days.

We may authorise transport if requested by the school and there is space on existing contracted services.

Please note if a travel pass is authorised for induction days this may not be the same service allocated to a pupil from September.  Also, even if the same service, a new timetable may be in operation.

If the transport is a public service, then pupils are expected to pay the daily fare to the operator.

If transport is required for induction days please contact your school.