Special Educational Needs Disability (SEND) Travel Support

Special Educational Needs Disability (SEND) Travel Support

This section provides information about home to school travel support for pupils with Special Educational Needs Disability (SEND) or a medical need.

Our SEND home to school transport service is under extreme pressure at the moment and some families are unfortunately finding themselves without the agreed service at short notice.  Whilst we did have transport arranged for all school children prior to the new Academic year, some providers have been unable to deliver due to a lack of drivers. So that we can meet our high standards of service, we only allow drivers specifically trained and approved for SEND work. We usually ensure that our providers have sufficient qualified staff to work on our SEN journeys and to provide cover in cases of staff absence or resignation. However, since the pandemic there has been a national shortage of drivers and we are unable to enforce this point.  This means that if no qualified drivers are available for our work, then we must withdraw transport rather than provide a sub-standard service. 

Please understand that we only withdraw transport when we are simply unable to provide a safe, quality service. We understand how difficult this can be and do our best to reinstate service as soon as possible. In the meantime, if a child is eligible we will work with the family to help make alternative arrangements. This could include providing funds to enable families to make their own travel plans. Our phone lines are extremely busy, and we are struggling to respond to all calls so would ask that parents call us only once to allow us to resolve queries in the shortest possible timescale. We will be contacting those families affected twice a week to provide an update.

SEND travel support will make every effort to fulfil their statutory duty to provide home to school transport during this pandemic.  However, if transport staff are required to self-isolate in line with the government’s guidelines, routes may need to be cancelled for the isolation period if suitably trained staff are not available to offer cover. We will inform families at the earliest opportunity and make every effort to find a solution by identifying the best way for families to use a personal travel budget during the isolation period.  

Parents and carers are responsible for ensuring children and young people get safely to school on time.  This is true for learners with SEND many of whom travel to school without additional support from the Local Authority.  In exceptional circumstances, some families will need additional support for an agreed period.

For a child or young person to access SEND Travel Assistance/ Transport they will need to meet the following criteria:

  • The young person is accessing a specialist educational setting that has been agreed by the Local Authority as the closest setting to meet the young person’s needs.
  • The young person has a physical disability that would prevent him/her from making the usual type of accompanied journey.
  • The young person has a disability leading to significant social and/or emotional immaturity such that their behaviour leaves them extremely vulnerable in social settings, that would prevent him/her from making the usual type of accompanied journey.

An Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan, or attendance at a special school or Additionally Resourced Provision (ARP) does not guarantee travel or transport assistance. The pupil's individual needs will determine the entitlement, rather than whether an EHC Plan is in place.

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.

If parents/carers would like to apply for travel assistance to help get their child/young person to and from their educational placement please complete the Application Form for Home to School Travel Support for Pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) or to request a paper copy email SENDTravelSupportApplicationForms@newcastle.gov.uk

Please note we aim to make transport arrangements as soon as they are needed however this can often take up to 10 working days.  However, during the pandemic, despite our best endeavours this period may be longer.  If your assistance with travel application is declined you have the right to appeal the decision.


SEND home to school transport appeals

This process has been designed following the recommendations set out in the home to school statutory guidance.

You have the right to appeal against our decision about:

  • your child’s eligibility for home to school transport
  • the transport offered
  • the distance measurement in relation to statutory walking distances or extended rights
  • the safety of the route.

Stage One:
You have 20 days from the day you receive the decision to appeal against it. If you wish to appeal, you should write a letter or email asking for a review of the decision. You should explain why you believe that we should review the decision and include any information you would like to be considered as part of the review. A senior officer will review the decision. They will then contact you in writing with their decision within 20 days of receiving your letter. They will explain:

  • whether or not they have upheld the local authority’s home to school transport decision
  • why they reached that decision
  • the factors they took account in reaching that decision.

If the decision has been upheld, you then have the right to escalate your case to stage two of the process.

Stage Two:
If you wish to escalate your case to stage two, you must send a letter or email within 20 days of receiving the outcome of stage one. An independent panel will review your case. The panel members will be independent of the original decision and will ensure that the local authority complies with our statutory duties, that a balance is achieved between meeting the needs of parents and of the local authority and that no child is placed at unnecessary risk.

It is important to note that you can only appeal on the grounds shown above . Circumstances such as work commitments or siblings attending other schools do not count towards a child’s eligibility for transport assistance.

This review will take place within 40 working days of our receipt of your request. The Chair of the panel will notify you in writing of the outcome within 5 working days. They will clearly explain:

  • whether or not they have upheld the local authority’s home to school transport decision
  • why they reached that decision
  • the factors they took account in reaching that decision.

If the original decision is upheld by the panel, you may then be able to complain to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.

Parents may complain to the Ombudsman if they believe the local authority has refused help unfairly, made a mistake or not handled their application for home to school transport correctly.

SEND Transport 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.

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.

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 where the child lives 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.

Our policy only applies to pupils living in Newcastle.

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 free travel where families move to a new 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.

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.

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.

Parent carers need to ensure that in their dealings with drivers, travel escorts and SEND travel support staff they remain calm and courteous.  Any threatening or aggressive behaviour towards staff is taken very seriously and may result in door-to-door transport being withdrawn and the only assistance offer would be a personal travel budget.


SEND Travel Support Parent and Carer's handbook

A handbook of useful information about SEND Travel Support.

Types of travel assistance

We will consider the needs of the child and the travel assistance offer will consist of a scale of options depending on that need. Options include:

  • Travel permit for use on public transport

  • Payment of a personal Travel Budget (PTB)

  • Travel skills training to enable the pupil to use public transport or to travel independently. This will be delivered in partnership with parents and the education setting

  • Home to school transport for example, shared taxi or minibus from the home address or from a pick-up point

If a pupil cannot reasonably walk to school, parents will be encouraged to use their own transport to take their child to and from school.

The offer of a  Personal Travel Budget (PTB) will be explored as the primary offer to families

Where home to school transport is provided it is the parent's responsibility to ensure that the pupil is ready for collection at the agreed time and place. If necessary, they should be accompanied by a responsible person until transport arrives and collected at the agreed time. If for any reason they are unable to attend school and a bus or taxi has been provided to transport the child, then parents should notify the SEND Travel Support as soon as possible.

Further information about SEND Travel Support is available using the contact details below during business hours only.  If you contact the service outside of business hours, please leave a message with your name and contact details and a member of the team will respond when the service reopens.


SEND Transport business hours
Term time – Monday to Friday 7.30am – 4.30 pm
School holidays – Monday to Friday 9.00am – 3.30pm


Contact us

SEND Transport Service
Newcastle City Council
3rd Floor
Civic Centre
Newcastle upon Tyne

Email: SENDtransportservice@newcastle.gov.uk

Phone: 0191 277 4646

Website: Newcastle Local Offer

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