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Secondary school transport - consultation

Frequently asked questions for parents/carers - updated 12 February 2024

When does the consultation close?

Following a request from parents wishing more time to consider the proposal, the council has agreed to extend the consultation period for 2 weeks and it will now close on Friday 15 March.

Is it possible to respond to the consultation if a distance measurement or request for a safe walking route assessment has not been provided?

Yes, the consultation proposal is seeking views on whether you agree/disagree that the distance that pupils can be asked to walk to school be up to and including 3 miles from home to their catchment school, altered from the current distance of 2 miles.

What is the proposed change?

The proposal is to consider altering the distance that a mainstream secondary school pupil must live from their catchment school in order to qualify for free school transport from more than 2 miles to more than 3 miles.

Why is the council proposing this change?

Given the significant financial challenges being faced by the council, including the recent announcement of likely savings of £96m over the next four years, the council has had to reassess service priorities.

Budget savings options currently being considered for financial year 2024/25 for Education Resources total £7m. In addition, due to rising costs, the forecast spend for the current financial year 2023/24 is £10m, which is £4m higher than the budget.

This proposal could help protect from further cuts that would impact on schools directly.

What will the proposed changes mean for my child?

If you live within 3 miles of your catchment secondary school, then you will be affected by this proposal.

School mainstream transport will become available only to those pupils who live more than 3 miles from their catchment secondary school.

The rest of the school policy remains unaltered. Any pupil currently on school transport due to a requested road safety assessment which deemed the walking route unsafe will continue to receive transport regardless of distance. 

How does the council decide that a walking route is safe?

Roads officers do not undertake assessments for every permutation of walking routes that exist. If parents are concerned about the safety of their route to school, they should instigate a request for a road safety assessment by using the safe walking route request form.

Walking routes are assessed by roads engineers and transport will be provided for walking routes that are found to be unsafe in relation to the West of Scotland Road Safety Forum guidelines.

Please note that roads engineers assess the route on the basis of road safety hazards only.

Personal safety is not a factor in this assessment. All assessments are undertaken assuming the child is accompanied by a responsible adult.

How is the distance from my home address to my catchment school calculated?

The calculation on the measurement of distance from home to school is measured using a Geographical Information System, which is used for all measurements to ensure that we apply council policy consistently across the authority. We do not use Google maps.

Our GIS is operated using Ordnance Survey digital mapping products. The Ordnance Survey is the UK’s national mapping agency, complies with all nationally adopted mapping standards and covers the whole of Great Britain.

What if I want to check the distance from my home to school?

Should the proposal go ahead, the Council would advise parents if their child is no longer entitled to transport.

Qualifying distance - yes/no lists

The Yes/No qualifying address lists contain distances from home to school measured in 2015 and is a measurement to 3 miles (4827 meters). They identify addresses that do and do not qualify based on the new proposed distance of 3 miles.  It does not take into consideration unsafe walking routes. Newer addresses have yet to be added and this information will be updated shortly.  This information can be viewed from the link below:

The statutory responsibility within the Education (Scotland) Act 1980 is to provide transport for:

  • any child aged under 8 years who lives more than 2 miles from their catchment school, and;
  • any child aged 8 years and over who lives more than 3 miles from their catchment school.

This means that, for many pupils, mainstream transport entitlement will still go beyond that set out in legislation.

Will privilege transport still be available?

If your child doesn't qualify for free school transport under the proposal, or if they are not travelling from their permanent home address, you will be able to apply for privilege transport.

This will only be provided where there is a space on an existing school contract and will be from and to designated pick-up and drop-off points.

Is it expected that secondary aged children are old enough to walk to school by themselves?

Where no transport is provided, parents/carers remain responsible for their child’s journey to and from school. There are already around 16,000 secondary pupils who do not qualify for school transport. Parents must assess if their child is competent to make the journey independently and cross roads safely. If parents do not feel this to be the case, then alternative arrangements require to be made.

When will changes come into effect?

If approved the change would take effect from August 2025.

Have other councils done this?

Yes, 19 other councils in Scotland already operate a distance criteria of more than 3 miles for secondary pupils and have done for a number of years.

Do the proposed changes affect Primary School pupils?

No, the proposed changes affect mainstream secondary school pupils only.

If my child attends a secondary Additional Support Needs base or school, will this proposal affect their transport arrangements?

No, transport arrangements for pupils attending Additional Support Needs bases or schools will not be affected.

What are my options if my child is not entitled to school transport, I don’t have access to a car and my child refuses to walk to school?

Children and young people aged 5-21 are eligible for a card providing free travel on all public service buses. To access this, children and young people aged 5-21 years old require a National Entitlement Card (NEC) or Young Scot National Entitlement Card.

Alternatively, schools could assist by connecting parents/carers who may want to share responsibilities of school runs or young people who may wish to walk or travel together.

The council can assist parents who would work as a group to engage a private contractor for their children, to take them to and from school.

Related content

  1. Secondary school transport - consultation
  2. Walking routes and distance qualifying addresses
  3. Frequently asked questions for parents/carers - updated 12 February 2024