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Frequently asked questions

Introduction

We've put together some answers to frequently asked questions about home to school transport.

If you cannot find the answer to your question from these pages or our website, please contact us via our general enquiry form and we shall get back to you.

Split and changing addresses

What happens if a child lives with parents at two separate addresses?

We're only responsible for transport from one address, which would be considered the one that your child lives at for most of the calendar week.

When your child is staying at the other parent's address it's the parents' responsibility to ensure they can get to and from school. See section 2.4 of our Home to school and college transport policy (PDF) [332KB] for more details.

My child gets transport but we'll be changing address - what do I do?

You need to tell us as soon as you know you will be changing address. This is so we can re-assess your school or college transport entitlement, as you may no longer be entitled to transport provision.

If you are still entitled, we'll need at least 10 working days before you move to make alternative transport plans. Please see the Change your address, contact details or service requirements page.

Please note, it's not enough to just advise the school or the taxi or bus operator you are changing address. You need to tell us as we look after and manage school transport.

Boarding points and travelling times

Guidelines on the distance to transport boarding points

Although we plan to provide boarding points as close to the home of statutory school age children as possible, stops for primary age children can be up to one mile away and 1.5 miles away for secondary age children.

We require parents to ensure their children get to and from the nearest boarding point. See section 11 of our Home to school and college transport policy (PDF) [332KB] for more details.

Guidelines on travelling times

We seek to provide one-way journeys of no more than 45 minutes for primary school age and 75 minutes for secondary school age. These times are a guideline only and the efficiency of the transport provision has to be the overriding, principle factor when organising transport.

See section 10 of our Home to school and college transport policy (PDF) [332KB] for more details.

Guidelines on travelling times for SEN children

The times remain the same as for mainstream students - see the answer above. However, in many cases the journey may be longer because SEN schools tend to be further away than mainstream catchment schools, increasing travelling time.

See section 10 of our Home to school and college transport policy (PDF) [332KB] for more details.

School and college transport application process

I've made an application for my child. How soon will transport be in place? 

During the year, processing an application usually takes up to 10 working days following receipt of a completed form, with any necessary supporting documents.

For applications made for a new school year in September, transport will be in place if the application and all necessary supporting documents are with us by the beginning of August. For applications for a spare seat under our discretionary travel scheme, you may not hear for several weeks as we assess the availability of a seat.

Passes and transport details are sent by 2nd class post. While an application is being processed, parents are responsible for ensuring that their child gets to and from school. We won't refund any costs incurred, unless there is a processing delay or error caused by us.

To check out the status of your application please see our Travel Pass Search.

My child is moving up to high school in September. Do I need to apply for school transport?

If your child is attending their catchment school and you meet the minimum distance criteria, as detailed on our Who can get free school transport page, we'll have received confirmation from School Admissions and we will write to all parents in March, April and May offering transport.

If you don't hear by May half-term then please make a school transport application. Applications made before 31 July will be processed in time for the start of September. However if you apply after 31 July, you should be prepared to make alternative travel arrangements for the start of term as your application may not get processed in time.

To check out the status of your application please access our Travel Pass Search.

Will I need to make a school transport application when my child starts infant, junior or primary school?

Yes, please make a school transport application and we'll assess whether you are entitled to transport.

Please note if you apply after 31 July we may not be able to process your application in time for the new academic year.

Bus transport

Can I change buses for my child?

If we're already providing a service which meets all the requirements - for example the bus stop is within the distance criteria - then we have no obligation to swap buses.

However, if there's an alternative bus with space, then we'll try to accommodate your request. There's a £12 administration fee to swap buses.

No requests to move buses will be actioned in August and September as these are our busiest times of the year, unless we have wrongly allocated your child to a bus that does not meet the criteria above.

Will I get a new bus pass every year?

Most students are issued a long-term pass valid for their entire time at school and will not receive a new pass each year. Please check the expiry date on your pass before discarding it because if it has not expired you will have to pay for a replacement.

Post-16 students will receive passes more frequently, depending on the chosen payment method.

What if my child's bus does not arrive? 

Students should wait at the bus stop for 30 minutes before returning home. Please contact the school, Travel and Transport or the bus operator to find out what has happened to your bus.

Your child is your responsibility while they are waiting at the bus stop, so if your child is vulnerable please ensure they have someone to contact if they need help.

My child has received their bus pass but it expires at Easter. Why is this?

Where school contracts are due to be reviewed in the coming year, those who receive a short term pass may see an Easter expiry date. Students will automatically receive a new pass for the summer term.

Will siblings always be allocated to the same bus?

We'll do our best to allocate siblings to the same transport. However, there may be occasions where this has not happened due to capacity or it has been missed due to the volume of transport we have to plan.

Unfortunately requests to swap vehicles in August and September will not be a priority.

When will my child's bus pass be sent out?

For students beginning school in September, bus passes will be sent out over the summer holidays to arrive in time for the new term.

How will I know the details of the bus service my child will be using, such as bus number and timetable?

Full details will be sent with the bus pass explaining how you can access your specific school bus timetable which will show collection points and times.

I don't feel my child could use a large school bus. Would a smaller vehicle like a taxi be ok?

Transport may be provided in smaller vehicles if it has been assessed that the pupil has a specific difficulty or disability that prevents them from travelling safely using bus or train services. We'll ask for professional third-party medical evidence if it is not apparent from our records what the issues are. 

Bus passes that are lost or not working

If my child's bus pass is lost or gets damaged and no longer scans, can I apply for another one? 

Yes, if your pass has been lost, stolen or damaged, so the smartcard no longer scans, you will need to order a replacement pass for £13. Details of how to apply can be found on the Payments, refunds, cancellations and replacement passes page.

My child has received a new bus pass but it doesn't scan

It can take a few days from a pass being printed for ticket machines to be able recognise it. Usually the time between printing and the card arriving is sufficient to cover this, but on occasion it may not be.

Please allow 5 days from the date on the letter with your pass for it to begin working.

The bus driver says my child needs a new pass as it doesn't scan, but you can read it - is this right?

Yes, having a valid scanning pass is a condition of travel. If a pass no longer scans you do need to purchase a replacement, even if it is still readable. Go to the Payments, refunds, cancellations and replacement passes page to order a replacement.

We'll only replace free of charge if there are no signs of damage other than normal wear and tear - bent, snapped, hole punched, chewed, cut or otherwise damaged passes do require payment for replacing.

My child travels on a school bus and has lost their travel pass - can they still travel without it? 

No, the driver can refuse students who do not have a valid travel pass. If a pass is lost, go to the Payments, refunds, cancellations and replacement passes page to order a replacement. You may also be able to get a temporary pass from the school reception to cover your child while you order a replacement pass.

A temporary pass will only last for two weeks so it's important you order a replacement as soon as possible.

Small vehicles or taxis

My child will require a taxi to school, not a bus. How will I find out the details?

If your child has been assessed as requiring a small vehicle, details of the transport provider will be sent to you in good time for you to contact the provider and find out collection times.

If my child is having a small vehicle pick-up from home, how will I know when the vehicle has arrived?

We don't ask drivers to knock, ring the doorbell or otherwise announce their arrival, as they may have other children on board the vehicle.

Families should be looking out for their vehicle and be ready to board as soon as it arrives, in the same way a pupil waiting at a bus stop would be. This includes waiting at the roadside if you cannot see the vehicle from inside your property.

Can I choose what time the taxi collects my child?

No. Due to the majority of transport being shared with others, we cannot guarantee collection or drop off times. You'll be advised of your approximate collection and drop-off time before your transport starts, but this is dictated by the route that the vehicles have to take and can be subject to change.

For primary school age children and children with special educational needs, a responsible adult will be required at the home address for handover. 

Will you drop my child off with no-one at home?

For all primary age children and children with special educational needs, we require a responsible adult to be present when students are dropped off.

It's important you give us and the transport operator all of your contact telephone numbers, including mobile numbers, in case we need to contact you if you're not at home. If you or another responsible adult are not at home, we'll keep the child on board until we can contact somebody and arrange the drop off.

Can you collect or drop off my child from an alternative point, such as my place of work?

We're only responsible for transport from your home address to school and back. In most cases we won't be able to agree an alternative pick up or drop off.

Will the vehicle have a passenger assistant, as my child is very young?

Passenger assistants are only provided where there is a specific health and safety need and not provided purely based on a pupil's age.

Can I travel with my child for the first few days?

We don't transport parents as the vast majority of transport is shared with other pupils. It would be inappropriate for a parent to travel with children from another family.

Behaviour on school or college transport

More information on this topic can be found on our behaviour on school transport page.

You can also find the full behaviour policy and procedure in Section 12 or appendix 3 of our Home to school and college transport policy (PDF) [332KB].

Routes to school and eligibility for transport

I don't meet the distance criteria to school. However, I believe the route to school is dangerous so transport should be provided

We'll need to assess whether the route contains specific factors that make it particularly hazardous, so it cannot be walked along in reasonable safety.

A route will not automatically be classed as dangerous or unavailable if there are no paths, pavements or streetlights, as most roads in rural areas do not contain these features. A combination of factors needs to exist before we'll consider the route to be unavailable.

Assessments are about the physical nature of the route and do not include criteria related to perceived moral danger. Routes are assessed on the basis that a child is accompanied by a parent or other responsible adult.

Please read our Appendix 2 - Criteria for home to school walking route assessments in our Home to school and college transport policy (PDF) [332KB] to see our assessment criteria, which is taken from national road safety guidelines. The same rules apply when assessing routes to bus stops.

How do you measure the shortest available walking route?

Walking routes are measured using all public rights of way, which is not necessarily the same as the route by car. Our geographical information software system is based on Ordnance Survey data, the most accurate available.

All distances are measured from the Post Office address point of the home to the nearest pedestrian school gate.

I don't qualify for school transport, but I can't accompany my child to school and wouldn't expect them to walk alone. Can transport be provided? 

We're not responsible for transport in this instance. If you are unable to accompany your child to school, it's still your parental responsibility to ensure your child attends school and how you fulfil this legal obligation is your responsibility.

I have a health condition that prevents me accompanying my child to school. Will transport be provided under these circumstances?

No: if you live too close to your catchment or local school to automatically receive school transport, but you're unable to accompany your child due to health issues, we're not responsible for school transport.

If families are struggling to ensure their child attends school, they should firstly see if other friends or family can help. If not, talk to the school or apply through other channels, such as The Early Help Hub.

When you live within the qualifying walking distance, it's your legal duty to get your child to school, however difficult the circumstances.

We live too close to school to qualify for school transport, but my child has mobility issues or a severe medical condition. Will we be eligible for transport?

This is something we may consider, although the child must be attending the catchment or nearest appropriate school and we'll ask for third party medical evidence.

Children not attending the catchment or nearest school

A school has a better Ofsted rating than our catchment school and is better suited to my child's needs. Will I get free transport? 

No, we're only responsible for transport to the catchment or nearest appropriate school. Any mainstream school can make provision for a child's individual needs, calling on additional resources as necessary.

An 'appropriate' school is a school that provides education appropriate to the age, ability and aptitude of a pupil, as determined by us, rather than the best school available. Please see Who can get free school transport for further details.

My child is very settled at their existing school but we have moved out of the catchment area - can we get school transport?

No: we're only responsible for transport to the catchment or nearest school -  please see Who can get free school transport for further clarification.

We appreciate there may be exceptional circumstances as to why a family have moved out of the catchment area and that a child may be settled at school, but in these circumstances it's your responsibility to ensure your child attends school.

My child was given their second or third preference school as the local school was full. Will I receive transport?

If our admissions service confirm that they couldn't allocate your child a place at their catchment or nearest school, and this was your first preference, then we may provide transport to your second or third preference school if it's the next nearest school with a place and you live over the qualifying walking distance.

I believe my nearest catchment school is full. Will I receive school transport to another school?

No, we're only responsible for providing school transport to the catchment or nearest appropriate school. The only time we provide transport to an alternative school is when:

  • The catchment or nearest appropriate school is full, at the time of application
  • Our admissions service authorise us to provide transport to an alternative school

For more details please see section 5.4 of our Home to school and college transport policy (PDF) [332KB].

My child gets free transport because the catchment school was full. Will their younger sibling also get free transport to this school? 

No: we're not responsible for the younger sibling's transport to get to this school because it is not their catchment or nearest school. However, we may do for primary age pupils, if there is room in the existing vehicle with the older sibling and there is no additional cost to provide the transport. 

This is not a legal requirement so we could stop transport for the younger sibling if a space is required in the vehicle for someone who is entitled under policy. If we do require space the place can be withdrawn at a week's notice. You must always be mindful of how you will get your child to school if your child is not attending their catchment or local school. 

Children with education, health and care plans (EHCPs)

Will I be entitled to transport to the establishment named in my current education, health and care plan (EHCP)?

Not necessarily. If a school is named in a plan as one of parental preference, transport will not be provided. We may provide transport if a school is named by the local authority in the EHCP as the nearest one that can meet need and you live beyond the qualifying walking distance from the school.

You don't need to make a transport application as we're advised by the relevant team in Children's Services.

Part-time attendance and induction days

My child is attending school or college on a part-time basis. Can you arrange transport based on these times?

No, we're only responsible for home to school or college transport based on the standard start and finish times of the school or learning establishment.

Transport does not cater for part-day arrangements, extended school opportunities or extended school provision.

Do you provide transport for induction days?

No, transport is not provided for children attending induction, taster or transitional days or sessions before joining the school or establishment.

Cycling to school or college

I don't want my child to use a bus to school or college - is there any way they can get help with cycling instead?

Yes, if you are entitled to school transport or post-16 travel assistance, you can opt to have a cycle grant instead, which is a grant of £200 per year.

The cycle grant is a commitment for a full academic year and anyone applying for this grant must consider how they will travel when they are unable to cycle to school. See section 6 of our Home to school and college transport policy (PDF) [332KB] for more details.

Personalised Travel Scheme and mileage payments

I receive a Personalised Travel Scheme (PTS) or parental mileage allowance. Do I need to let you know that I've changed address?

Yes, you need to advise us as soon as you know you will be changing address, so we can re-assess your school transport entitlement and to recalculate your allowance, if you're still entitled to one.

I receive a PTS or parental mileage allowance for my child to attend school. They will be changing schools soon: will the scheme automatically continue?

No, you need to contact us as soon as you know your child will be changing schools, so we can re-assess your school transport entitlement and recalculate your allowance, if applicable.

When will I receive my mileage payment?

The majority of payments will be made automatically into your bank account the following month after travel. We aim to process the automatic payments at the beginning of the first week of the month and the funds will enter into your account within the first 10 working days of the month.

If you are paid manually you will need to send in claim forms every month. We aim to pay travel payments by the 15th of the following month, as long as we receive the claim from you by the 5th of the month.

Post-16 information

Please see Post-16 travel scheme for further details.

My child is continuing at their same SEN school for year 12. Do I need to make an application and pay?

You don't need to make an application, but you will need to pay a parental contribution as all post-16 transport requires a financial contribution from the parent.

We work closely with the SEN schools to find out who is staying on and then write to all parents and carers with details of the required payment. With returning students TITAN may also be in contact to offer travel training, if this is appropriate.

If you have any issues around travel training, please email TITAN@norfolk.gov.uk.

My child is a mainstream pupil moving into post-16 education. Do I need to apply for your post-16 travel scheme?

Yes, you will need to make an application for the scheme. Applications for September can be made after Easter.

Most post-16 transport is only offered on a local bus or train service, so before applying it's worth checking with your local transport operator to see if you can buy a cheaper and more flexible pass direct from them, particularly if your child is not travelling five days a week.

Do all students who want to receive travel assistance under the post-16 travel scheme have to pay a parental contribution?

Yes they do - a parental or carer contribution is required for all students, including SEN students. Please see post-16 travel scheme cost and payment options for more details.

Do I need to pay for post-16 transport even though the Government has raised the participation age to 18?

Yes, you do need to pay a contribution for transport. Although young people must now remain in education or training until they are 18, the government has not increased the statutory school leaving age and therefore the age range of free transport available to eligible young people.

Free transport is still only available to eligible children up to the end of the school year in which they become 16.

How to appeal a decision

How can I appeal if I believe transport policy has not been applied correctly? 

You can appeal a transport decision if you believe the transport policy has not been applied correctly. Visit How to appeal a decision for more information.