Eligibility for under 16 travel assistance to school

You should check if your child is eligible for travel assistance to a specific school before you apply for a place at a school, as your choice can affect your child's eligibility for travel assistance.

Please see our guidance below, you can also use our online home to school eligibility assessment checker to see if you meet the eligibility requirements.

Summary of eligibility

Children are eligible for travel assistance if they:

  • live in Surrey
  • are of statutory school age (aged 5-16) and attend their nearest qualifying school.
  • the shortest walking distance to the school is more than two miles if they are under 8 years old and 3 miles if they are 8 or older.
  • If a child has special educational needs or a disability that mean they are unable to walk to school, they may also qualify for travel assistance if the home to school distance is under the relevant distance indicated above.
  • If your child is entitled to free school meals or if you get the maximum Working Tax Credit, then your child may be eligible for travel assistance . Please see eligibility for families on low income below, for more information on the criteria.

Please note if your child is in reception and under 5 years old, but you believe that there are extenuating circumstances that warrant your child being provided with transport at aged 4, please complete the application form and provide supporting evidence of your case.

Your nearest qualifying school

Unless you are eligible for travel assistance it is your responsibility as a parent to get your child to and from school. Please keep the following in mind when choosing a school to apply for:

  • If, when you apply for a mainstream school place you could apply for a nearer school which has vacancies, but choose not to, your child will not usually be eligible for free home to school transport to your chosen school.
  • If you apply for a school place at a school that is not your nearest, you will not be eligible for travel assistance unless your nearer schools are oversubscribed and would not have offered you a place. Exceptions may apply when your nearest school is out of county and your child attends their nearest Surrey school; if your child is entitled to transport to a secondary school on low income grounds; or if your child has an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) and it has been accepted that the nearest school can't meet your child's needs.
  • If your child is granted transport to a school further away due to the lack of places at nearer schools, it does not mean that your younger children will also get transport to attend that school. This is because places may then be available at nearer schools for your younger children.
  • If your child has an EHCP and you exercise parental preference in choosing a school further away than the nearest qualifying school, the council can name that school but state that this is not the nearest suitable school. Under this circumstance, your child will not be eligible for transport and you will take on all financial and practical responsibility of getting your child to and from school.
  • If your child is transferring to the junior stage of education, your nearest school with places may not necessarily be a junior school. You should also check any nearer all-through primary schools that have a published admissions number and normally admit children into Year 3.
  • When assessing which school is your nearest, we measure distance by shortest road route. If a different school is the nearest school by straight line distance, as defined in Surrey's admission arrangements for community and voluntary controlled schools, free home to school transport will also be provided to this school so long as the age and distance criteria are met.
  • When we determine your nearest qualifying school, we take into account schools both inside and outside the county boundary. Your nearest qualifying school may be outside the county of Surrey.
  • If the nearest qualifying school is determined to be outside of Surrey, but your child is attending the nearest Surrey school to your home address then, so long as both schools are over the statutory walking distance, transport would be provided.
  • If you are moving into the area, your nearest school will depend on the availability of school places at the time of your application.

Other factors

  • Schools' admission criteria do not affect your eligibility for travel assistance, for example, some schools give priority for a school place to children who are attending a feeder school, but this does not confer an automatic right to free home to school transport.
  • We will consider the safety of the walking route when assessing transport eligibility. However, not all roads and footpaths in Surrey will have been individually assessed for their safety. If you believe part of the assessed walking route to be unsafe and would otherwise be eligible for free home to school transport, you should provide details so the route can be reviewed.

Please see the following for further information:

Eligibility for families on low income

If your child is entitled to free school meals or if you get the maximum Working Tax Credit then your child will be eligible for travel assistance if they are either:

  • aged 8 to 11 and attend their nearest qualifying school and it is more than two miles from their home, or
  • aged 11 to 16 and attend one of the nearest three qualifying schools and it is three to six miles from their home.
  • aged between 11 to 16 and attend the nearest school to their home address which has been chosen because of their religion or belief and it is between 2 and 15 miles.

Please see our: Travel Assistance Policy for learners, for more information.

If you are successful you will need to resubmit evidence of your entitlement every year for free home to transport to continue.

If you are not eligible for travel assistance

Please see our help and guidance for getting your child to school or college web page which includes details on any local schemes, passes, discounts and more which could help you.