Home to school transport policy review consultation 2023

Closed 12 Jun 2023

Opened 24 Apr 2023

Feedback updated 10 Jan 2024

We asked

We sought the views on proposed revision of our home to school transport policies for 2024-2025 onwards. The policies set out what assistance we provide and how to access it, to enable parents to easily understand whether their child is eligible for free home to school travel or whether there is any other help provided, using discretionary powers.

The possible changes put forward in the consultation fell into two categories:

1. Format and language used in the policy document.

2. Substantive changes to entitlement to free and discretionary transport:

a. ceasing to provide free transport to linked schools unless it is the nearest suitable school with places. This proposal would comply with the legislation.
b. Making changes to the provision of discretionary transport:

Options relating to discretionary transport:

• Withdraw all discretionary transport (all age groups).
• Withdraw discretionary transport for Post 16 only.
• Cease to guarantee a discretionary seat for those applying by mid-May.
• Increase fares to recoup more of the expenditure and cease to undercut the commercial market.

You said

We received 514 online responses, and 4 written responses, which were reviewed and used to support the Home to School Transport - Policy Revisions for Statutory School Age Pupils 2024/25 report, which was discussed at North Northamptonshire Council Executive meeting on 12 July 2023.

The consultation primarily considered the discretionary element of home to school transport.

You can also view the full report and appendices pack.

We did

On 12 July 2023, the Executive considered all the supporting papers and resolved to agree the recommendations made.

Additionally, Members recognised the unique situation in relation to Prince William School, and asked Officers to explore alternative arrangements for students residing in the former East Northants area, and in particular those in and around the Thrapston area.   A suitable approach was agreed with Members and local MPs to mitigate the negative impact on residents in that area.  Further work is still ongoing both with the school and with transport providers to meet the demand for transport in that area.

Results updated 5 Jul 2023

This consultation is now closed.

A copy of the consultation analysis report is available below along with a web link to the 12 July 2023 Executive meeting papers.





We want to hear your views on our proposed revision of our home to school transport policies in North Northamptonshire for 2024-2025 onwards.

In common with other Local Authorities, North Northamptonshire Council (NNC) is required to provide assistance for travel between Home and School for children and young people residing in the area who meet the eligibility criteria set out in legislation.

The Council produces a series of policies setting out what assistance they are providing and how to access it. The policies should enable parents to understand easily whether their child is eligible for free home to school travel, or whether there is any other help with home to school travel provided by the Council using its discretionary power.

The Council is legally required to provide free transport assistance if a child is of compulsory school age (5 to 16 years) and falls within one of four categories:

  • statutory walking distances (over 2 miles for up to 7 years old and over 3 miles for 8-16 year olds)
  • any diagnosed special educational needs, disability or mobility problems
  • whether the walking route meets road safety standards
  • extended rights for those on low incomes (as explained in Appendix A3 of the current policy)

To be eligible to free transport assistance the child needs to be attending their nearest school which has places and can meet their needs (this is known as the nearest suitable school). The legislation sets out that all transport for eligible children and young people must be provided free of charge to the family.

After we have allocated seats for pupils who are eligible for free transport the Council has discretionary powers to provide seats to non-eligible pupils. The Council is allowed to impose a charge for non-eligible pupils to offset all or some of the cost of their transport.

This includes all transport provided for those attending 6th form studies, whether at school or college or other education provision.

Special educational needs and disability (SEND) pupils

We are not proposing any changes to the SEND service and application process. Most pupils under 16 with SEND will continue to be entitled to free transport where they are unable to walk to school due to their special educational needs, disabilities or mobility issues. Young people with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) over the age of 16 and up to age 25 where they are continuing a course which they started before their 19th birthday, will also continue to be entitled to free transport where they are unable to make their way to their place of education in any other way, for example if they have mobility issues. There are a small number of Post 16 SEND pupils who purchase a fare paying seat (Spare seat) on home to school services.

Discretionary transport

The current charge to the family/student for discretionary transport (spare seat) is £600 per year. The average cost to the Council of providing transport for the Home to School service in 2022/23 was approximately £1,050 per person per year. This increases to approximately £1,200 per person per year when administration costs are added.

The current charge of £600 was introduced 10 years ago and has not increased and does not cover the cost of the transport provided. This means that the Council is having to subsidise the discretionary transport for children/ young people who are not entitled to transport. This means the Council must pay the cost of subsiding this discretionary transport from its wider budget, which reduces funding available for other services.

Widescale changes have not been introduced for about a decade and with rising costs the Council is heavily subsidising this service and we now need to re-examine our approach and the amount we can afford to subsidise to ensure fairness and efficiency.

Every day the Council provides over 8200 passenger journeys between home and school for children and young people attending mainstream schools and colleges, which cost the Council around £4.3M in 2022/23. The vast majority of these passengers, around 89%, are statutorily entitled to free transport, but the remaining 11% receive transport under the discretionary powers.  This is made up from approximate 100 passengers at Post 16 and a little over 300 passengers across the rest of the school age range.

The Council also provides transport for around 1200 children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.  The cost of providing transport for this group is in the region of £7.5M per year.

The annual budget for home to school transport is £11 million but in 2022-2023 was £3 million overspent.

Local authorities are expected to target any support on those young people and their families who need it most, particularly those with a low income.

How the transport assistance is provided is up to the Council. The Council might, for example, provide a child with a seat on a dedicated school bus or minibus, or with a pass for free travel on a commercial bus. They may also provide a seat in a taxi.

Where parents agree, the local authority might provide a personal transport budget or pay a mileage allowance to the parent to transport their child to school, pay a cycling allowance to enable a child to cycle to school, or provide independent travel training to a child, to give them the skills necessary to travel independently.

What we are reviewing

We are revising our Home to School Travel Assistance Policy and Post 16 Education Transport Policy. However, no changes will be made to the Post 16 Education Transport Policy in the 2023/24 revision as this policy will be reviewed at a later date. Any changes made to the Home to School Travel Assistance Policy will not come into effect until September 2024.

We want to understand people’s views on our proposed changes and options affecting the discretionary transport to help us ensure we achieve the right balance of fairness.

The following lists the changes we are considering making to our policies. We are also seeking feedback on how we intend to make the wording and layout of the policies clearer to understand.

  • Proposed change to policy
  • Change to the status of Linked Schools
  • Insertion of a provision to allow the Council to reclaim costs of transport awarded based upon inaccurate application
  • Changes to the provision of discretionary transport (Spare Seats) 4 Options
  • Clarification on the services provided for children and young people with Medical Needs
  • Clarification of the ways in transport support might be provided
  • Clarification on who is authorised to meet a child from the bus

To help make the policy clearer we are also adding in a new section providing details of the way in which appeals and complaints will be dealt with. This is intended to clarify the difference between a complaint and an appeal and sets out the process which is to be followed in either case. The appeal process is set out in the form designated by the Department for Education Guidance.

Results of the consultation will be used to help shape the new policy which would be introduced from September 2024 for the 2024-2025 academic year, to allow parents and carers time to plan ahead.

A paper on the final proposals is scheduled to appear before the council’s Executive on 13 July 2023.

North Northamptonshire Council is committed to improving the service for the Residents of North Northamptonshire. Over the coming year we will be working with the members of the Northamptonshire Parent Carer Forum, outside this consultation, to improve the experience of home to school transport for everyone. We have already co-produced a guidance leaflet which will be published shortly to assist parents and carers in understanding the current service offer. This work will be ongoing and will include looking at improving the access points for the service, including reviewing the application processes and communication, as well as improving the on-road delivery of the service.

Related Documents

Please read the related documents to gain a better understanding of the service and our proposals before giving us your feedback:

Further information about current support can be found on our school travel assistance website.

Have your say

Please tell us your views by completing this questionnaire. You do not have to answer all of the questions or give us your feedback on every section. If you do not wish to answer a question or give feedback on a specific section, then you can skip those questions and move on to the next section.

Your feedback will be part of a report with many other people’s feedback, so you will not be personally identified.

You can also access this online questionnaire free of charge at any North Northamptonshire Council library. Please see the Library website or telephone 0300 126 3000 to check opening times.

Alternatively, you can email or send your comments in by post using the contact details below.

If you have any queries, comments or would like a copy of this questionnaire in another format (including paper, easy read or large print) you can contact us by email, post or telephone. Our contact details are as follows:

Email address: HomeToSchoolConsultation@northnorthants.gov.uk

Telephone: 0300 126 3000

Postal address:

  • Home to School Transport Policy Consultation Response
  • North Northamptonshire Council
  • Sheerness House 
  • Meadow Road
  • Kettering
  • NN16 8TL

The deadline for completing this questionnaire is midnight 12 June 2023.

For information about how consultation and engagement responses are managed, please see the consultation and engagement privacy notice.

Thank you for helping us by completing this questionnaire.


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