School transport policy consultation 2021-22

Our All Age Travel Assistance Policy describes the availability of transport and travel assistance for children, young people and vulnerable adults who live in Trafford and we review it every year. There is one proposed change for the 2021-22 policy which relates to home to school transport.

We have to provide travel assistance to eligible children who meet the national criteria and who attend their nearest qualifying school. The national eligibility criteria takes into account the distance travelled to school, family income, how safe the route is and whether a child has special educational needs or mobility issues. 

The nearest qualifying school means the school nearest the child’s home that has places available. It will provide education appropriate to the age of the child, and any special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) that the child may have. If parent/carers choose a more distant school, travel assistance will not be provided unless they are a low income family. The guidance defines a low income family as where the child is eligible for a free school meal or the parent/carer is in receipt of the maximum amount of working tax credit.

In addition to the national eligibility criteria, we have some additional discretionary criteria to support other groups of pupils in our area. This includes children in their reception year at school, pre-school children with special educational needs and children attending a grammar school.

We are proposing to remove the criteria for grammar school children meaning that those who travel further than the nearest qualifying school will not be eligible for travel assistance.

This will not change things for low income families who continue to meet the criteria and who choose to travel to access a grammar school place.

Children attending grammar school

There are 7 grammar schools in Trafford: 

  • Altrincham Grammar School for Boys
  • Altrincham Grammar School for Girls
  • Loreto Grammar (Girls)
  • St Ambrose College (Boys)
  • Sale Grammar School
  • Stretford Grammar School
  • Urmston Grammar School

Under the discretionary criterion for children attending grammar school, we currently provide travel assistance to pupils who live more than 3 miles from the school as long as it is the nearest grammar school for which they are eligible. A child is classed as eligible for a grammar school if they pass the entrance exam and there are available places. 

Under the current arrangements, travel assistance for these children is provided in the form of a travel pass for use across the bus and tram network which costs £378 per child. On average, 120 travel passes are issued each school year under this criteria. 

Other families who choose to travel further than the nearest school for a place in a particular high school do not qualify for travel assistance unless they are a low income family.

We strongly believe in equality and fairness in the provision of our services. The current policy benefits one group of children above others and we believe it is not equitable. The strategic objectives of our policy include supporting those most in need and providing the most cost effective travel assistance so we make best use of our resources.

The proposal to remove the criterion for grammar school children would mean that families who travel further than the nearest school for a grammar school place will have to pay for any travel costs themselves, unless they are a low income family.

The cost to these families of making travel arrangements will vary linked to individual routes from home to school. In many cases it will be less expensive than the £378 per year being paid by the council. This is because this cost is for a pass valid across the whole tram and bus network rather than being for a specific route.

This proposal does not change things for low income families who meet the criteria to receive a free school meal and who choose to travel to access a grammar school place. One of the questions within the consultation is about whether we should consider broadening the definition of low income families specifically for those travelling to access a grammar school place.

Feedback, comments and questions

The consultation commences Monday 16 November 2020 and runs until Sunday 10 January 2021.

You can ask any questions and help shape the proposal by giving your ideas and comments in one of the following ways:

Online: Consultation hub

Write to: School Admissions Team, Trafford Council, Waterside, Sale, M33 7ZF