School transport service updates and policies

The video below, from colleagues in the Surrey School Travel and Assessment Team, is a useful introduction to school travel assistance. We encourage you to watch if you want to find out more about:

  • Eligibility for travel assistance.
  • Our busiest times during applications and appeals.
  • Types of travel assistance that may be provided to eligible children and young people.
  • The other forms of travel support that are available (including independent travel training provided by Surrey Choices).
  • Safeguarding information relating to transport operators.
  • How to contact us.

Key application dates

Below is an outline of our key application and travel assistance delivery timescales for 2023.

The timescales are in place to ensure that the Surrey School Travel and Assessment Team (SSTAT) has sufficient time to arrange appropriate transport, or that families have enough time to challenge the Authority's decision via the appeal process. We will aim to ensure that for applications submitted later in the year, arrangements for eligible children and young people will be communicated as early as possible.

Please note: If travel assistance in the form of contracted transport has been offered, but we are unable to put this in place within our agreed timescales, a temporary Independent Travel Allowance will be paid until transport has commenced.

SEND Key Stage Transfer 2023 and in-year applications for travel assistance

  • 31 March - Year 11 to post-16: If your child has an EHCP and is transitioning to post-16 from September, you will receive a final plan with either a school/college or type of provision named by this date.
  • 14 April - Year 11 to post-16: In order to ensure the SSTAT has enough time to plan for travel assistance arrangements on behalf of eligible students, if you have a placement identified for September please apply by this date.
  • Key Stage transfers - If your placement is confirmed after the 15 Feb or 31 March, please ensure you submit your application as soon as possible.
  • Summer review of transport routes - If you have submitted your application by the 1 March and your child is eligible for assistance, we will aim to communicate your transport arrangements by the 30 June.
  • After 30 June - If you have submitted your application after 1 March and your child is eligible for assistance, we will communicate your transport arrangements from the 30 June onwards, unless we are able to confirm these arrangements sooner.
  • In-year applications - Our standard timescales are 6 weeks from when an application is submitted. These times may vary during very busy periods.

Children without an EHCP that are transferring schools in September 2023 and in-year applications

  • 31 March - If you live in Surrey and you have accepted a school place at a school outside of Surrey, please submit an application by the 31 March.
  • 3 May - We will contact families who are eligible for travel assistance via the bulk assessment process by the 3 May.
  • 12 May - If you have not received notification for travel assistance as a result of bulk assessment please submit an application by the 12 May.
  • In-year applications - Our standard timescales are 6 weeks from when an application is submitted. These times may vary during very busy periods.


Appeals are considered throughout the academic year. We normally experience an increase in appeal numbers from spring onward and into the new term in September. Below are national timescales for the consideration of both stage one and stage two appeals. There may be some instances where timeframes are extended, and we will notify you if this happens.

  • Stage one appeal - Transport Case Review: 20 days to consider the appeal, 5 days to issue the notification
  • Stage two appeal - Independent Panel Review: 40 days to consider the stage two appeal via the independent panel review, 5 days to issue the outcome of the hearing.

Important information for 2023

Below are a number of important messages from the Surrey School Travel and Assessment Team (SSTAT) as we head into our busy summer period and approach the start of the autumn term in September.

We are currently within our normal timescales for processing applications and appeals. If this changes due to a particularly busy period, we will update this page and also contact any affected families directly.

Review of unsafe travel routes

We are currently reviewing a number of routes across the County currently deemed unsafe. This involves reassessing eligibility for travel assistance in some circumstances. If there are any changes to route safety, we will write to all families affected. Any review of an unsafe route will be undertaken in line with National Road Safety Guidance – Assessments of Walked Routes to School (2021).

Would you like to receive an Independent Travel Allowance?

This enables you to make your own arrangements to facilitate travel and access to education. We now pay 45p per mile for 4 journeys undertaken Monday to Friday, or on whichever days the allowance would be required.

We recently surveyed families who receive the travel allowance and 48% were happy with the current rate.

If your child is eligible for travel assistance would like to receive the allowance, please contact the Team using our online enquiry form:

Children with additional needs (Key Stage transfer)

If you have recently been issued with an Education, Health and Care Plan and are considering travel assistance for September, please submit your application as soon as your placement is confirmed. The SSTAT are currently within timescales for processing applications and ensuring that arrangements are in place for September.

Summer review of contracted transport

Transport in the form of private hire vehicles (taxi, minibus) is provided into 500 plus education settings and this is reviewed each summer to take account of leavers and new starters. This will ensure that the transport is efficient and cost effective. As per the council's Travel Assistance Policy for learners, shared transport will be provided wherever possible.

This year, we have improved the process for providing information to both transport operators and families which will result in specific information on arrangements being sent quicker and more efficiently.

The summer review is a major task that we plan to have completed by the end of July. The review timescale can be affected by requests for travel assistance later in the year. If we are unable to ensure that travel assistance will be in place for the start of the autumn term, one of the SSTAT will contact you to discuss the option of an interim travel allowance, and we can also discuss alternative options with you.

Potential changes to current arrangements

For existing passengers, wherever possible, transport will be the same or similar. There will however be occasions where we will need to change a service, or where arrangements may change. Reasons why we are required to change a service, and what could change include:

  • More children and young people being awarded transport to a specific education setting and are added to a specific vehicle/route.
  • The operator of a current route changes.
  • The type of vehicle.
  • A journey time is increased owing to more children in a vehicle.
  • The home pick-up and drop-off times.

For new applicants, and those where the travel arrangements are changing, you will be informed of the arrangements as soon as possible to make any necessary preparations. In all cases, we will aim to ensure that information is provided two weeks before the start of transport.

Post-16 travel assistance for September

This year, we have already spoken to a number of families about their post-16 travel assistance which will reduce the amount of work that we need to do as we approach September.

Where the Council assesses a young person aged 16 to 19 years as eligible for travel assistance under its policy, the assistance offered in the first instance will be in the form of a travel allowance to support families and young people to make their own arrangements, unless due to specific needs or a requirement for specialist transport means this is not appropriate.

As per the council's Travel Assistance Policy for learners, shared transport arrangements will be put in place wherever possible if the allowance is not appropriate. You are reminded that free transport is provided on a discretionary basis and is available at the beginning and end of the school/college day only, and individual timetables are not able to be met. Therefore, students should expect some waiting time.

Post-16 contribution rates 2023-24

Where it is agreed that travel assistance is required in the form of a taxi or minibus, we will ask you or your parent/carer to contribute towards the transport costs. However, if you or your family experience severe financial hardship, we will consider delaying, reducing, or waiving the charge for post-16 students.

We have increased the contribution this year at a time of real challenge for public finances, when we are all facing increased costs and recognise the hardship that families are experiencing. The new contribution rates for 2023-24, while an increase on last year, are still lower than our neighbouring authorities.

Our new post-16 travel allowance has been in place since 2022 and if you choose to accept this, you will not be required to pay the contribution.

The contribution rates for the academic year 2023-24 are as follows:

  • £634.89 for students whose families are in receipt of the maximum Working Tax Credit and/or who continue to meet the eligibility criteria for Free School Meals; students in care; care leavers; those on Income Support/Universal Credit in their own right; disabled young people who receive Employment Support Allowance/Universal Credit and either Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment in their name; or
  • £875.58 for all other students.

Independent Travel Training

Surrey Choices, the provider of independent travel training within Surrey are currently training a number of young people to access their place of learning more independently. Travel Choices will support children and young people to gain independence to travel to school or college. Surrey Choices will with you families or carers to create a Personal Travel Plan to support you to travel independently. We will work with you at every stage of your plan to find the best way for you to travel which could include:

  • Walking
  • Getting a bus
  • Getting a train
  • Cycling

For further information please visit Travel Choices.

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