This page sets out the council's policy on home to school travel support for children and young people aged 5 to 16 who attend mainstream Newcastle schools.

If free home to school travel is approved, the child will be granted a travel permit which is valid on school days on all public transport in Tyne and Wear. The permits are valid for one academic year only, for a specified journey between home and school.  Children need to apply in June/July for the following academic year to guarantee the permit is ready for the start of term.

How do I apply for a free school travel permit?

Before submitting any application, check to see if your child meets the eligibility criteria.

You must also provide a passport style colour photograph of your child showing their full face with your application. You can upload a photo for free if you apply online; otherwise attach one to your paper form. The photos are non-returnable and will automatically be destroyed if your child is not awarded a permit.

New 2017/18 permits

To apply for a free school travel permit for a student who will be attending a Newcastle School in September 2017, you can either apply online or download a paper application form (pdf, 162 kb)

The deadline to apply for a travel permit is 16 June 2017, we can't guarantee any application received after this date will be processed in time for the beginning of the September 2017 term.

If you move house or your child changes school during an academic year so that they have a different home to school journey, you also need to reapply using the forms above. Your application will be assessed as a new application, not as a replacement. You must return your child's current travel permit with the application before we will process it.

Replacement 2017/18 permits

If your child has been awarded a travel permit already this academic year but needs a replacement as it has been lost, damaged or stolen, you will need to apply online for a replacement permit. Do not use this form if you and your child has moved house or is no longer in mainstream school - see above for the eligible criteria.

Please note that replacement passes incur an administration fee of £5. The payment is non-refundable if the child's circumstances have changed and the journey is found to be ineligible for free travel when it is re-assessed.  You can only pay for a replacement pass online. Do not send cash or cheques through the post.

Do I need to provide any supporting evidence with my application?

You must provide a passport style colour photograph of your child showing their full face with your application. You can upload a photo for free if you apply online; otherwise attach one to your paper form. The photos are non-returnable and will automatically be destroyed.

If your child receives free school meals, we will know this from our records and you do not need to send proof. However, if your child does not receive free school meals and you believe you meet the criteria of a low income family because you receive the maximum amount of working tax credit with no deductions, you will need to send a copy of your annual TC602 from the Department of Work and Pensions to prove this.

How long will it take to assess my application?

It will take around 10 school days for an application to be assessed and a permit issued during term time.  Travel fares incurred while the application is being assessed will not be reimbursed.

All students need to apply in June/July for the following academic year to guarantee the permit is ready for the start of term. Applications submitted before the deadline are processed throughout the Summer holidays and the assessment result will be communicated before the beginning of the school term.

We will write to you to advise you of the outcome of the assessment.  All permits will be sent to schools for collection by students.

Mainstream Home to School Travel Policy

Very few children aged 5 to 16 who attend mainstream Newcastle schools are entitled to free home to school travel. Free travel is generally only available if:

  • Your child attends their nearest suitable school where the distance from home to school is more than the statutory walking distance of 3 miles for a child aged 8 or over, or 2 miles for a child under 8 years of age, or
  • Your child qualifies by reason of low income or safety of the route.

The following sections set out our policy on home to school travel arrangements for children and young people aged 5 to 16. Parents and carers are advised to read this policy carefully before you apply for a school place, if help with travel costs could be important to you.

Introduction

Parents and guardians have a legal duty to ensure that their children attend school regularly and are able to get there and back safely. Newcastle City Council will only make arrangements for free home to school travel for pupils who meet the legal entitlement.

Walking, cycling and the use of public transport will be promoted with a view to improving road safety, developing independence, encouraging health benefits from increased activity and exercise and reducing traffic congestion and associated pollution.

It is the responsibility of the parent or carer to ensure that their child gets to and from school at the required time each day, and to accompany them if necessary. A parent or carer’s social or work commitments are not a consideration when considering eligibility for free school travel.

This policy is intended to facilitate attendance at school and is not intended to cover any travel between educational institutions during the school day; or any travel to and from social or child care arrangements or at other times. It is the responsibility of parents to make any such arrangements.

Free travel will be provided to eligible pupils in the form of a travel permit which is valid for a return journey from home to school on school days on the bus and metro.

Eligibility criteria for free school travel for children aged 5 to 16

Primary age children aged 5 to 11: see flowchart (pdf)

  • Children aged under 8 who are attending their nearest suitable Newcastle school, where the distance from home to school is over the statutory walking distance of 2 miles.
  • Children aged 8 to 11 who are attending their nearest suitable Newcastle school, where the walking distance from home to school is over the statutory walking distance of 3 miles.
  • Children aged 8 to 11 from low income families who are attending their nearest Newcastle school, where the distance from home to school is over the statutory walking distance of 2 miles.
  • Children from low income families with a proven faith who are attending their nearest Newcastle faith school where the walking distance from home to school is between 2 and 15 miles.
  • Children from low income families who were in receipt of free travel in 2013/14* who are attending their nearest Newcastle faith school where the walking distance from home to school is between 2 and 15 miles. These children will not be required to provide proof of faith.

*If the child’s circumstances change (such as moving house or school) between assessments, the extended criterion will no longer apply and the application will be re-assessed under the other criteria.

Secondary age children aged 11 to 16: see flowchart (pdf)

  • Children who are attending their nearest suitable Newcastle school, where the distance from home to school is over the statutory walking distance of 3 miles.
  • Children from low income families, who attend one of their three nearest Newcastle schools, where the walking distance from home to school is between 2 and 6 miles.
  • Children from low income families with a proven faith who are attending their nearest Newcastle faith school where the walking distance from home to school is between 2 and 15 miles.
  • Children from low income families who were in receipt of free travel in 2013/14* who are attending a Newcastle faith school, where the walking distance from home to school is between 2 and 6 miles. These children will not be required to attend their nearest faith school or provide proof of faith.

*If the child’s circumstances change (such as moving house or school) between assessments, the extended criterion will no longer apply and the application will be re-assessed under the other criteria.

Unsafe routes

Children who are attending their nearest suitable Newcastle school where the distance from home to school is less than the statutory walking distance but the route to school is considered unsafe for the child, accompanied as necessary, to walk with reasonable safety.

Route safety is determined based on national guidelines for assessing safe routes to school. These guidelines are based on existing legislation, best practice, health and safety and case law. The guidelines are explicit that the responsibility for getting a child to school lies with their parents. Local authorities cannot assess a route to school as unsafe because of perceived dangers which could arise if a child was unaccompanied. The assessment must be undertaken for a child accompanied as necessary. Safety assessments for walked routes to school can only take account of the nature of the highway and provision of crossing facilities, not personal safety considerations. A route would not fail to qualify as safe because of dangers which could arise if the child was unaccompanied. If routes become assessed as safe due to road improvements, entitlement to transport will end for those currently receiving free transport on safety grounds.

The application process

  • The easiest way to apply is to apply online. A colour passport size photograph of the pupil must be uploaded at the time of application. Alternatively, paper application forms are available.
  • Applications will usually be processed within ten working days subject to the required information being submitted.
  • Permits for free travel are valid for a period of one academic year and are issued free of charge. There is a charge of £5 for a replacement pass payable to "Newcastle City Council" if the permit is lost or damaged.
  • Entitlement for pupils will be assessed annually. A new application must be submitted for each school year.  It is the parents’ or carers’ responsibility to do this and to ensure that we are notified of any relevant change of circumstances.

General notes and definitions

  • References to the ‘nearest school’ mean the state school nearest to home with available places at the time that places were allocated, that provides education appropriate to the age, gender and ability of the pupil. It is identified by considering whether the child would have qualified for a place at the school, regardless of whether it was named on the admission application form.  We do not pay for travel to independent schools.
  • Distances are measured along the ‘nearest qualifying route’ using an electronic route mapping software application. To assess your child’s walking distance from home to school we use information from Ordnance Survey, the national mapping agency which identifies the quickest walking route taking into account over and under passes, bridle paths and pedestrian only streets and gives an accurate walking distance to six decimal places.  The distance is measured from the centre point of your home to the centre point of the school to ensure every distance is measured to the exact same point, rather than having to take into account which school gate your child may access as some schools have multiple gates.  This ensures all applications are assessed fairly and equally.
  • Home, for the purposes of establishing entitlement to free school travel, is the permanent address at which the pupil lives with a person who has parental responsibility. It is not the address of a relative or child-minder. Where there is joint residency, the address used is the one the child lives at most of the time. If a child spends time equally with both parents, then it will be the address which is closest to the school. In the event of a dispute the address of the person in receipt of child benefit will be used to assess entitlement.
  • To establish ‘proven faith’, proof will be required that your child is baptised or a dedicated member of another faith (church) recognised by Churches Together in England. This information will be sought from your child’s school, based on evidence you provided them to support your child’s application for a school place.
  • We do not make any distinction between schools which are single sex or mixed sex when determining which is the nearest available school of the religion or belief, or lack of belief, of the parent /carer of the pupil. Measurement will be made to the nearest available Newcastle school of the religion or belief, or lack of belief, not to the parent’s preferred school.
  • Low income families are defined by the Education and Inspections Act paras 9-14 of  Schedule 35B as those where the children are entitled to free school meals or where the parents are in receipt of the maximum level of Working Tax Credit. Parents are required to provide proof of income if they are not currently in receipt of free school meals.
  • The definition of school includes settings at which pupils might receive education under section 19 (1) of the Education Act 1995 and includes pupil referral units.
  • Parents have a right in law to state a preference for a school for their children, but that does not carry with it a right to free transport.
  • Our policy only applies to pupils living in Newcastle. It does not include pupils from other local authorities who are attending schools in Newcastle.
  • We do not provide free travel where families move house and wish their child to remain at their current school, if there is a closer suitable school to the new address with available places.
  • If a pupil is in receipt of free travel and moves to another address, the child’s entitlement  will be reassessed using the policy in place at the time of the move. Eligibility may change in these circumstances.
  • We do not provide any home to school travel arrangements for children under the age of five as they can travel free on public transport.
  • There is no sibling link in the home to school travel policy, nor do we take account of feeder school arrangements.
  • Children in the care of the local authority are assessed under the normal terms of this policy.
  • When we provide free travel, or pupils use school bus services, parents are responsible for the safety and care of their children on the journeys to and from school.
  • Behaviour on transport that endangers other pupils, the driver or other passengers will not be tolerated. Transport operators and the local authority will withdraw travel support in the case of serious or persistent poor behaviour for either a fixed period or on a permanent basis.

Appeals procedure

You have the right to appeal against the decision not to award your child a permit if you think there has been an error in the assessment of your application. Please write to the address listed below stating what error you believe has occurred. This must be submitted in writing within 20 working days of receipt of the refusal letter and you will receive a written response within 20 working days.

It is important to note that there is no discretionary element to the appeal process and a parent or carer’s social or work commitments are not a consideration when assessing eligibility for free school travel, nor is parental preference for a particular school, and therefore these are not grounds on which you can appeal.

Email admissions.information@newcastle.gov.uk

Postal address:

Admissions and Information team
Room 225 Civic Centre
Newcastle City Council
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE1 8QH

Other help with travel

If your child is not eligible for free home to school travel, children aged 5 to 16 can get reduced fares with a Nexus Under-16 POP card, valid on weekdays until 7pm on local bus and Metro services.  Without the Under-16 card, children may be expected to pay the full adult fare.

You may also be interested in our separate pages on travel support for children and young people with special educational needs or additional needs and for post-16 students.

Information about travelling to school including journey planning is available here.

Help and information

We are unable to advise over the phone whether or not your child would be entitled to free home to school travel. If you have any other query, contact us:

By email admissions.information@newcastle.gov.uk

Phone 0191 278 7878 (ask for "free school travel")

Page last updated: 
30 September 2017
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