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Travel assistance for children with a statement of special educational needs

Travel assistance for children with a statement of special educational needs

This factsheet provides information on how to apply for travel assistance for children and young people with a Special Educational Need and/or disability whose child has an Education, Health and Care plan or other care plan. You can also read the Tower Hamlets Travel Assistance Policy 2020.

View School Travel Support information. 

You can find useful information about travel and accessibility using these resources:

Travelling Independently

This film follows the journey of a young person who has had travel training in Tower Hamlets.

For further information

If your child has an Education, Health and Care plan or other care plan you can apply for travel assistance for them to attend school.

You can obtain an application form from the Children’s Travel Team by calling 020 7364 4397 or emailing Lorraine Ashdown, or you can download one here.

The type of travel assistance offered will depend on a number of factors including the distance from your home to the school and the needs and abilities of your child.

The types of travel assistance that may be offered include:

  • independent travel training
  • a Freedom Pass
  • a travel card for your child
  • a bus pass for your child
  • a travel card for you to enable your to take your child to school
  • a bus pass for you to enable you to take your child to school
  • home to School transport from a suitable pick-up point

If your child is offered home to school transport from a suitable pick-up point, the provision will be reviewed annually.  You will need to know how the arrangement works and this is set out below.

Provision of free home to school travel for children with special educational needs


Transport arrangements

Transport will be provided by school bus, minibus or taxi, with or without a passenger assistant, in the most appropriate and cost effective manner.

The vehicle will usually be a school bus with a passenger assistant in attendance.  Where a child is the sole passenger in a vehicle, the parent or a responsible adult known to the child, should act as the passenger assistant.  Payment is not made in such circumstances.

Parents are expected to be at the meeting point at the appointed time in the morning and afternoon to meet the vehicle; it is not the passenger assistant’s responsibility to accompany the child to or from the home.

If the parent feels that the transport provided is not appropriate to the needs of their child, they should, in the first instance contact the Senior Commissioning Manager.

The necessity to provide transport will be reviewed every year at the child’s annual review meeting.  For some children, the provision of transport will continue throughout their school life. For others, increased independence and improved skills will mean that this provision is no longer necessary.  Decisions about ceasing to provide transport will be taken for educational and developmental reasons and in partnership with the child and their parent.

Children requiring 1:1 or specialist care

The needs of a child requiring 1:1 or specialist care on the journey will be determined by a risk assessment undertaken by the Community Children’s Nursing Team (CCNT).

Should the risk assessment determine that the child requires 1:1 or specialist care, the child’s parent or nurse will need to travel with them unless there is another, appropriately trained person, signed off as competent by the CCNT, who can undertake the journeys.


If a child is taken ill at school during the school day it is the responsibility of the school or parent to arrange for the child to be taken home or collected from school.


If a child is not at the pick up point for the journey to school, the vehicle will wait three minutes and then continue on its journey.  It is the parent’s responsibility to get their child to school as the vehicle will not return to the pick up point a second time.

If the parent is not at the drop off point on the homeward journey, the vehicle will continue on its journey to get the other children home. Where possible, the vehicle will return to the drop off point and, if the parent is still not there, a card will be delivered to the home address to let the parent know that the child has been taken to a place of safety.  It is the parent’s responsibility to collect their child from the place of safety.

Emergency situations

In the event of an emergency in transit and a child requires urgent medical attention, wherever possible, the vehicle will take the child to hospital. If this is not possible, an ambulance will be called to the vehicle.  The child will be taken to hospital by ambulance, accompanied by the attending paramedics; in both circumstances the parents will be informed and should make their way to the hospital.

Transport’s responsibilities

The role of the transport crew is to ensure that the children in their care have a safe, comfortable and stress free journey to and from school.  They must hand the children over to a responsible adult at the school gate in the morning and to a parent/carer at the drop off point.

School’s responsibilities

The school must ensure that there are adequate staff to meet the children at the school gate when the vehicle arrives and to take the children to the school gate at the end of the school day.  However, there are exceptions to this; for example, where a child or group of children have particularly challenging behaviour and their safety is at risk, a localised arrangement may be made through the Senior Commissioning Manager.

Variations to the school day

Schools sometimes wish to vary the start and finish times for children, particularly at exam time.  During these periods, transport will continue to run at the scheduled times; should schools wish to vary the schedule it will be their responsibility to arrange, and pay for, transport.  The exception to this is where an individual child is travelling alone or a group of children is travelling in one vehicle and they all need to arrive/leave at the same time.  In these circumstances, the school can request a variation to the schedule.

Transition arrangements

It is the responsibility of the school that a child currently attends to arrange and pay for transport for children to visit their new school. For example, if a child is transferring from primary to secondary school, it is the primary school’s responsibility.

The standards of transport providers

The following is what a parent should expect from transport providers:

  • transport will be provided for every day that your child needs to attend school
  • the transport provider will advise you of your child’s transport arrangements (pick up and drop off times, etc.) before the journeys start
  • if there is a change in these arrangements, the transport provider will contact you immediately and will confirm the details in writing within five days
  • if your child has any special requirements and the transport provider knows about them, they will be accommodated in the arrangements
  • the vehicles operate to scheduled times and will arrive at the collection and drop off point at these times, subject to traffic conditions
  • if the vehicle arrives early, it will wait up to three minutes past the scheduled time if the passenger is not at the meeting point
  • if the passenger has not arrived after three minutes the vehicle will continue its journey so that other passengers can be collected at the scheduled time
  • if your child is met on the homeward journey the vehicle will wait up to three minutes past the scheduled time at the meeting point
  • if your child is not met, s/he will be taken to a place of care and an ‘Emergency Contact Card’ will be put through your door telling you what you should do
  • if there is a delay of more than ten minutes in the journey and your child’s collection or drop off time will be affected, the Transport Provider will contact you and/or the school, where possible, by telephone or text message
  • Drivers and passenger assistants will greet passengers politely; they will be appropriately dressed and will wear identity badges. They ensure that all passengers travel in comfort and safety:
    all drivers and passenger assistants will have undergone a training programme and will have a current DBS (enhanced CRB) check.

The parent’s responsibilities

To help the transport provider to provide the quality of service expected, please observe and co-operate with the following:

  • make sure your child is at the pick up point at the scheduled time;
  • if your child is met on the homeward journey, make sure there is a responsible adult at the meeting point at the scheduled time, you must inform the Senior Commissioning manager, in writing, if you wish to change these arrangements; for example, if a different adult who is not known to the transport crew is going to be at the meeting point
  • if your child will not be attending school for any reason, let the Senior Commissioning manager know
  • if your child is going back to school after an absence, let the Senior Commissioning manager know
  • Our transport providers are not allowed to make localised arrangements with families, if you wish to make any changes to your child’s travel arrangements, please contact the Senior Commissioning manager.


If you have a complaint about your child’s transport, or if you want to make a suggestion on how to improve it, you should fill in a complaint/suggestion form and send it to the Senior Commissioning manager.

You will receive a written response to any complaint within seven working days. Complaint/suggestion forms are available from all transport providers or can be obtained from the Senior Commissioning manager.

How to get in touch 

Evelyn Williams
Tel: 020 7364 6434
Email: [email protected]

Lorraine Ashdown
Commissioning Officer
Tel: 020 7364 4397
Email: [email protected]