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Step 1: Check that you are eligible for free under-16 home to school transport


Summary of this step

You should check if your child is eligible for free home to school transport to their school before you apply for a place at the school. Your choice of school can affect your child's eligibility for free home to school transport.


You can check if your child may be able to get free home to school transport using the summary below.

For full eligibility details, including what counts as a qualifying school and how we measure the distance of the journey from your home to the school, you should also read our:

See also our Home to school transport frequently asked questions leaflet (PDF).

The council is currently reviewing its home to school / college travel and transport policy. Please see the consultation for details of the proposals and how to respond.

General eligibility

Children aged 4-16 are eligible for free home to school transport if they live in Surrey and attend their nearest qualifying school and the shortest walking distance to the school (accompanied by an adult as necessary) is more than:

  • two miles if they're under eight years old
  • three miles if they're eight or older

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 free home to school transport if they are either:

  • aged between 8 and 11 and attend their nearest qualifying school and it is more than two miles from their home by the shortest walking distance (accompanied by an adult as necessary).
  • aged between 11 and 16 and attend one of the three nearest qualifying schools and it is between two miles, as measured by the shortest walking distance, and six miles, as measured by the shortest road route, from their home.
  • aged between 11 and 16 and attend the nearest school to their home address which as been chosen on the basis of their religion or belief (not the nearest qualifying school) and it is between two miles, as measured by the shortest walking distance and fifteen miles, measured by the shortest road route.

Children with special educational needs and disabilities

If your child has an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) you should see our page about school transport for children with special educational needs or disability.

Things that affect eligibility for free school transport

Your nearest qualifying school

The nearest qualifying school is the nearest school, via road route, to the child's address which provides education appropriate to the age, ability and aptitude of the child, and to which the child could have gained a place.

Please note if your child is not eligible for free transport it is your responsibility as a parent to get your child to and from school. You should not assume that existing transport, including local and school buses, will be operating or available in the future. You should therefore think carefully about how your child will travel to and from school when choosing which schools to apply for.

  • If, when you apply for a 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 free transport 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, or if your child is entitled to transport to a secondary school on low income grounds.
  • 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 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 determining 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.

Changes to schools or the transport network

You must not assume that free home to school transport will be available just because it has been awarded in the past to children living in the area. Eligibility can change from year to year because of:

  • changes to the road network that Surrey uses to measure each child's nearest school, such as the inclusion of new roads or deletion of closed roads
  • changes to the walking network that Surrey uses to measure a child's shortest walking route to school, such as the blocking of an unsafe route or the inclusion of a new safe path
  • changes to the location or use of school gates that are available for pupils to use
  • the opening of a new school or the change of site of an existing school

Schools' admissions criteria

Schools' admission criteria do not affect your eligibility for free home to school transport. 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.

Safety of the walking route

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 are refused free home to school transport but believe the designated walking route to be unsafe and that you would otherwise be eligible, you can request a review.

Continue to step 2: Apply for free home to school transport

If you are not eligible for free home to school transport

If your child is not eligible for free home to school transport then you may be able to purchase a concessionary seat on existing school transport, if one is available.

You may also want to consider options such as public transport or speak to the school to see if they run any schemes like a walking bus.

Files available to download

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