Consultation launched on plans to restrict school transport eligibility

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A consultation has been launched on a plan to save more than £3m by restricting the number of children who are eligible for the home to school bus service.

North Yorkshire Council has launched a consultation today on the home to school travel policy, which costs the authority £42 million this current financial year.

The council currently lays on free transport to pupils from the start of reception year to the catchment school or the nearest school to their home address where the walking distance is more than two or three miles, depending on age.

The proposed policy change would mean children would only have eligibility to one school – the nearest school to their home address.

While it remains unclear how many children the change would affect, the report states other proposed eligibility changes, including for children who live with two different parents and for transport to denominational primary schools, would impact on few pupils.

Providing home to school travel is the third largest item of revenue expenditure for the council, after adult social care and waste management, with figures doubling since 2015-2016.

At an executive meeting held on Tuesday, January 23, the elected member for education, learning and skills approved a consultation to review the policy following updates for DfE guidance.

The consultation will now seek the views of parents, carers, pupils and schools on reviewing the discretionary elements. Any proposed changes to future transport provision will be implemented over a seven-year phased period.

North Yorkshire Council’s executive member for education, learning and skills, Cllr Annabel Wilkinson, said: “Our council, like many others, finds itself in a challenging financial climate.

“We are in a stronger position than most, but we must strike the right balance to fulfil the competing needs of our statutory services while ensuring other services are sustainable.

“The council spends approximately £1m per school week on home to school transport. Any pupil currently receiving home to school transport under the eligibility criteria of the current policy will continue to do so. The consultation will take on board the views of parents, carers, pupils, schools and partners about proposed changes over a seven-year period. We would like to receive as many views as possible.

“It is important know what you think of these proposals. Please use this opportunity to have your say by submitting your feedback during the consultation period. Thank you.”

The council’s assistant director of education and skills, Amanda Newbold, added: “We would like to reassure parents and carers that no-one will lose what they currently have in terms of home to school transport provision. However, with rising transport costs it is our duty to look at ways to bring down such costs in the future and this calls for careful review due to the challenging financial times we are in.

“The review of the transport policy does not affect where your child goes to school – that is still your choice. The review will look at the overall eligibility to access free travel to your child’s nearest school and how that can be delivered in a fair and economical way.

The consultation, which runs until April 12, includes a survey.

Parents and carers interested in giving their feedback to the consultation on home to school travel are encouraged to complete the survey at

An easy-read version of the survey will also be available online. Paper-based versions of the survey and policy can be requested.

Anyone requiring further information about this consultation should email