For parents, getting your child to school on time every day can be a challenge. You’ve got to drag your little one out of bed, get them dressed, fed and in the car – and that’s if they don’t decide to tell you about something they need for the day five minutes before you leave.
It can be even harder to get your children to school if you’re living on a tight budget and you just can’t afford the cost of their transport. If you’re in this situation, you’ll probably welcome any financial help you can to cover the cost of this – so let’s find out what you could claim.
Free school transport
Depending on how far away your child lives from their school and their situation, they may be eligible for free school transport. If they’re aged between five and eight, attend their nearest suitable school and live more than two miles away from the school, they’ll be able to get free transport. If they’re over the age of eight but under the age of 16, they’ll have to leave at least three miles away to be eligible.
However, if there’s no safe walking route to the school – like if it’s on a busy road and there’s no place to cross – your child will be able to get free school transport no matter how far away they live. You’ll have to contact the council if you think that the walk to school isn’t safe.
If you get the maximum Work Tax Credit in England or if your child is eligible for free school meals, the rules are slightly different. They’ll be able to get free school transport if:
• they’re aged between eight and 11 and live at least two miles away from the school,
• they’re aged between 11 and 16 and the school’s between two and six miles away (and as long as there aren’t three or more suitable schools closer),
• if they’re aged between 11 and 16 and the school is between two and 15 miles away, but it’s their nearest suitable school based on religious beliefs.
Your child could also get free school transport if they’re disabled and they have a statement of special educational needs (SEN) that says the council will cover transport costs.
Getting extra help
If your child isn’t eligible for free school transport, you could still get some help towards the cost of their travel to school. This varies based on local council so it’s best to check on your council’s website to see the rules for your area. For example, your local authority may be willing to pay for part of the cost of your child’s transport to school if your income is below a certain level.
You could also get extra financial help towards your child’s school travel if you moved house and you now live further away from the school but it would disrupt your child’s education to move them to a different school – if they’re in the middle of their GCSEs, for example.