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 Transport Policy

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
  • If they will be five before 1 September 2018 when applying for the school year 2017-18 and
  • Attend the nearest catchment school or the nearest appropriate school with a place as designated by Children’s Services and
  • Live more than two miles measured by the nearest walking route to school when under the age of eight
  • Live more than three 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, 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

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

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 two 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
  • 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

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.

The standard Home to School Transport Policy 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.

You may find the alternative travel options listed here 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:

  • 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
  • They are too young or vulnerable to walk to school alone and parents can’t accompany them due to mobility issues or severe medical conditions.

See sections 5.2 and 5.3 of our transport policy for more information

Email information@norfolk.gov.uk If you have questions about your child’s eligibility for free school transport.

Apply for a spare seat

We may be able to offer your child a spare seat on an existing school bus 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 local or nearest school

You will have to pay a contribution towards the cost of the travel pass if your child is offered a seat. 

We might not know if there will be any spare seats until after term starts.  We may also have to withdraw a spare seat after it has been offered.  You should make arrangements to ensure your child can still get to school if this happens. It is essential that the use of a spare seat is not the only means of ensuring attendance.  See section 5.6 of our transport policy for information on how we allocate spare seats when there are more applications than available seats.

To apply complete the application form and make sure you fill in the section about discretionary travel.

Apply for school transport

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

Claims for fuel allowance must be stamped by the school to show that your child attended.

Submit your claims at the end of each school term to:

Travel and Transport
Norfolk County Council
County Hall

Contact the County Council where you live for help.

Suffolk County Council 
Cambridgeshire County Council

Lincolnshire County Council

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.

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.

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.

Was this webpage helpful?