Agenda item

Home to School Travel and Transport Policy 2024-25


This item was introduced by Sarah Williams. Key points included:

·       The Department for Education published revised Statutory Guidance in June 2023. The Travel to School for Children of Compulsory School Age statutory guidance 2023 replaced the 2014 statutory guidance.

·       Changes to the policy included:

o   Separate policies for mainstream and SEND transport;

o   A Travel Assistance Budget within each policy;

o   The requirement for parents to apply for the three nearest primary schools and six nearest secondary schools to the home address for mainstream pupils and replace with the ‘nearest school’ to the home address;

o   A parent contribution towards SEND Post 16 travel which would be detailed within the policy;

o   Post 16 statement published annually.

·       Members were advised that a data mapping system was used and discussed with families at the admissions phase.

·       A consultation was undertaken on the 29th of November 2023 and completed on the 19th of January 2024. 124 responses were received, one common response was that the public would like an easy-to-read policy. The remaining responses were highlighted in appendix 1A and 1B.

·       Financial support for families for the 16-19 bursary fund were not carried out by Thurrock but signposted.

·       Post-16 transport would continue, with contributions towards the cost of this considered. This included £6,631k per student for local provision and over £16k for those traveling further. Parents would be notified as to how to apply for this funding. The assessments would be carried out by the educational establishment.

·       Members were informed that 101 post-16 students were currently in receipt of transport. Of these, 32 were from low-income families.

·       Benchmarking within the eastern region was completed – most have contributions in place. The highest contribution provided in neighbouring areas was over £15k.

·       The report recommended option 2 - accept the proposed changes outlined in section 2.15 and introduce a contribution towards SEND Post 16 travel. This would bring Thurrock in line with other council’s that have already introduced a contribution towards SEND Post 16 transport.


During discussions, the following points were raised:

·       Members questioned whether parents changed their child’s school that was further away, if they were still eligible for support. The Committee were advised that parents have the right to choose any school. If it is not the nearest, then they would not be eligible for support.

·       The bursary rate would not be known in advance by Thurrock and was means tested.  

·       There were potential financial risks, and efforts would be made to make it clear to families that they must apply for their nearest school. When placed elsewhere, the expectation was that they would not stay on waiting list.

·       Members questioned whether higher charges for families that can afford the contribution, or a sliding scale was considered. They were advised that charges were considered for all, however for lower income families it would be lower. Exploration of options to avoid burden on low-income families would be covered by a bursary. Officers would be liaising with those families although the assessment would not be conducted by Thurrock Council. The fund was up to £1200.

·       The consultation of post-16 travel was not a statutory duty. Members questioned whether the publics views were listened to. Members were reassured that they were listened to, and the public agreed with a variety of the proposed changes. For example, the travel assistance budget.

·       The Committee were advised that the policy went to Cabinet in July 2020, however it was not introduced at the time although it was approved.

·       Members questioned page 46 (section 2.13) on young people with EHCPs. The Committee were advised there were plans to introduce 19-25 contributions as there was a statutory responsibility. The Chair added that this could encourage pupils to progress into higher education.

·       The Parent Governor supported this policy and questioned the consequences if parents did not pay. The Committee were reassured they would engage with those families to support them and consider different payment options or collect up front. Unfortunately, until it was implemented, it would be difficult to assume, however transport would not be stopped immediately. It would be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. 

·       It was noted the report was to be reviewed by Cabinet on 13 March therefore the Portfolio for Education would provide a verbal update on the Committee’s views.




The proposed recommendations below to commence from 1st April 2024 for the start of the academic year 2024/25 for new families applying for travel assistance.


A vote was held, with all Members in agreement for recommendation 1.1.


1.1 Children's Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee recommends that Cabinet agrees and adopts the new individual SEND and Mainstream Home to School Travel and Transport Policies 2024-2025 for statutory school age pupils aged 5 to 16 years.


For recommendation 1.2 (below), a vote was held, with two Members in agreement and three against. The Parent Governor representative indicated her agreement, however, was not advised of her rights to formally vote. Recommendation 1.2 was therefore not supported by the Committee.


1.2 Children's Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee recommends that Cabinet agrees to implement a weekly parent contribution towards SEND Post 16 travel assistance each year of £23.69, this is reduced to £11.85 for low-income families.


Supporting documents: