Frequently asked questions for under 16 travel assistance to school

Below you will find answers to frequently asked questions relating to the eligibility, assessment and delivery of under 16 travel assistance.

For further information, please see our Home to School Travel Assistance Policy for under 16 year olds


Applications

When do I need to apply for travel assistance?

Once you have accepted a school place offer, it is important to apply for travel assistance as soon as possible. Please see our key application dates.

For in-year applications, please apply online as soon as possible to enable the team to process the application and, if eligible, make transport arrangements.

If your child changes schools at any time, you will need to make a new application for travel assistance in order for the team to reassess eligibility.

Do I need to reapply for travel assistance?

Your travel assistance outcome email will include the end date of your eligibility. In order to be assessed for continuing travel assistance beyond this date, a new application will need to be submitted.

There are certain instances where you will be required to reapply to see if you are eligible for continuing travel assistance:

  • If there is a change of home address you will need to complete a change of address form.
  • If there is a change of school/college you will need to submit a new application for travel assistance.
  • If your child is under 16 years, you will need to reapply at the end of each key stage, unless instructed otherwise.
  • If you are aged 16 or over and entitled to travel assistance, this may be in place until the end of a course, in which case an application will not be required for each year of study.

If your child is a Looked After Child (LAC)

The term 'Looked After Child' (LAC) refers to a child who is in the care of the local authority.

In line with national guidance and standard eligibility criteria, we will consider travel assistance applications for children who are looked after, along with any exceptional circumstances that accompany an application.

An exceptional circumstance means situations where due to health, medical, financial, or specific personal reasons, a parent or carer is unable to accompany their child to their education setting.

We aim to prioritise any request for a Looked After Child. A parent/carer must ensure that they indicate that the child is 'LAC' on the application form. This will signal that it is a priority request to be considered by the Surrey School Travel and Assessment Team.

Do you provide travel assistance for children under 5 years?

Surrey County Council may use its discretionary powers to provide travel assistance for children who are aged 4 and entering the reception year at primary school if extenuating circumstances have been demonstrated.

You will need to give supporting evidence of your situation.


Assessment

What forms of travel assistance do you provide?

If eligible, we will allocate your child one of the following types of travel assistance:

  • Bus pass
  • Train pass
  • Independent Travel Allowance (ITA) to use towards petrol or public transport
  • Shared contract transport (coach, minibus, taxi) using home collection or a collection point
  • Independent Travel Training (ITT)

If eligible, the travel assistance offered will be chosen based on the most cost-effective form of transport available. The type of assistance will be chosen by Surrey County Council.

Will my child have a passenger assistant?

Passenger assistants (escorts) are not automatically provided. When considering if a route needs a passenger assistant, the Council will look at the following:

  • A child's medical needs, particularly where rescue medication is required
  • Where an individual child's needs create a clear danger or health and safety risk to themselves and other passengers on the vehicle
  • Where the number of children travelling together necessitates the provision of a passenger assistant to help manage a group children and their specific support needs on the journey.

Passenger assistants for SEND purposes are assessed on a case-by-case basis. Provision of a passenger assistant at any one time does not guarantee that this will be an ongoing arrangement; the requirement can be reassessed at any time in the academic year, and in the event of any change in circumstances.

What if my child's walking route is unsafe?

We assess the safety of the route during your eligibility assessment, however not all roads and footpaths are individually assessed.

If you think part of the route is unsafe, and are otherwise eligible, please provide details so that we can review it.

If my child is not eligible, what are my options?

If your travel assistance application is assessed as 'not eligible' this means that your child does not meet the required eligibility criteria. You can read our eligibility guidance on our apply page, or use our online eligibility checker.

For children that are not eligible for free travel assistance, you may be able to purchase a concessionary seat on a contract vehicle. Alternatively, please see our travelling by public bus to school or college page for information about public transport routes.

If you believe the original assessment was incorrect, or have further evidence of exceptional circumstances, you can appeal the decision.


Finance

What is Independent Travel Allowance (ITA)?

An Independent Travel Allowance is a monthly payment offered to families who would like to make their own flexible travel arrangements, such as driving their child to school, or sourcing transport for their child.

This gives families the freedom to choose their own transport arrangements, which may fit better around their personal needs.

How is ITA calculated?

ITA is calculated using the shortest road route between your home and the school, the mileage rate is dictated by HMRC.

The amount offered to families is to be used as a contribution towards the cost of transport. This is calculated the same way for all families meeting the same criteria to be fair and consistent with the allocation of public funds.

When can I expect to receive ITA?

Payments will be processed in 11 instalments, with the first payment reaching families at the end of September.

The date in which payments are received may vary slightly throughout the year as these are processed manually, however payments will reach families by the end of each month.


Travel

What happens once my application is eligible?

If you have applied before 31 July, transport or ITA arrangements will be processed over the summer and in place for September, (or within 6 weeks for in-year applications).

If you have applied after 31 July, travel arrangements may not be in place for the start of term in September due to this being submitted later in the year. Families are advised to make their own arrangements during the wait for transport to be sourced.

Can I request a different mode of travel assistance?

Travel assistance offered in the first instance will be based on the most cost-effective and suitable arrangement for the child's needs.

If you feel you may need to change the current arrangements due to a change in circumstances, please contact us. If the team cannot accommodate the request, you may be directed to appeal the decision.

What happens if my child loses their bus/coach/rail pass?

Please see our replacing lost or stolen student fare cards for under 16s page, where you will find costs and information on how to apply for a duplicate ticket or pass online.


Drivers and safeguarding

How can I report a safeguarding concern?

If you need to log an incident or concern, please submit an online enquiry form.

Our online enquiry form includes the option to select a safeguarding concern, we encourage parents/carers to log any concerns they may have here or to call the Contact Centre as detailed below. Both contact options are marked as a priority and will be dealt with as a matter of urgency by the teams within 24 hours.

Telephone contact can be made via our Contact Centre: 0300 200 1004

These lines are open 9am-5pm Monday to Friday and will be able to support and direct your calls appropriately. Call backs are usually within 24 hours, however this may be adjusted during peak periods.

What can I expect if the driver changes?

In some circumstances, a change of driver and type and/or size of vehicle can occur. It is the duty of the current transport operator to notify the Surrey School Travel and Assessment Team as soon as this occurs, (in advance, if possible) so that we can contact any family affected with as much notice as possible.

How will I be notified of a driver change?

Usually, the existing travel provider will contact you as soon as possible with the details of the new driver and/or transport arrangement.

To escalate any concerns, or request a change of arrangements, please submit an online enquiry form.

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