Free school travel overview
If your child lives in Newcastle and goes to a government-funded Newcastle school, they may be able to get free travel to school, depending on how far the walk is and any special needs they have.
All children aged between 5 and 16 can get free school travel if they go to their nearest suitable Newcastle school and live at least:
- 2 miles walk from the school if they’re under 8
- 3 miles walk from the school if they’re 8 or older
Children under 5 go free on public transport.
You are responsible for ensuring your child attends school regularly and on time, and gets there and back safely. Parents can be issued fines or prosecuted if their child does not attend school regularly.
If there’s no safe walking route
If your child goes to their nearest suitable Newcastle school and there’s no safe walking route, your child can get free travel, however far from school they live.
We follow national guidelines for assessing safe walking routes. We look at the condition of the roads and footpaths and any crossing facilities. We don’t look at the quality of the street lighting or any possible dangers that might happen if your child was alone. You are responsible for getting your child to school and should go with them if you are worried about them getting there safely.
Families on low incomes
If you get the maximum Working Tax Credit or your child is entitled to free school meals, they have extra rights to free school travel if they’re:
- aged 8 to 11 and go to their nearest suitable Newcastle school, if it is at least 2 miles to walk,
- aged 11 to 16 and go to one of their three nearest suitable Newcastle schools, if it is between 2 and 6 miles to walk there,
- attending their nearest Newcastle faith school and the school’s 2 to 15 miles to walk, if they were admitted to the school on the grounds of religion or belief.
What we mean by “low-income”
For free school travel, you are a low-income family if:
- Your child gets free school meals
- You get a qualifying benefit for free school meals, even if you haven’t applied for free school meals
- You get the maximum amount of Working Tax Credit with no deductions.
You don’t need to send us proof of free school meals as we can check this. If you have never applied for free school meals, you need to agree to let us check your benefits, or send us your full annual TC602 from the Department of Work and Pensions to prove you get the maximum amount of Working Tax Credit.
What we mean by “home” address
You need to use the address where your child lives permanently with a person with parental responsibility. If you and your ex-partner share custody for your child, you need to use the address where your child lives at most school days. If time is shared equally with both parents, you need to use the address closest to the school. You can’t apply for free travel to a childminder or relative’s address.
What we mean by “nearest suitable school”
This is the nearest government-funded school nearest to your home address that would have offered your child a place at the time places were allocated if you had applied.
Your child’s nearest suitable school may be a school you didn’t apply for. It might not be their feeder school and might not be the same school as their older brothers or sisters attend.
If you move to a new house, we won’t give your child free travel to remain at their current school if there is a closer school with places available.
How we measure walking routes
We measure distances to walk to school using an electronic route mapping software application. This uses information from Ordnance Survey, who are the national mapping agency. We include overpasses, underpasses, bridleways, pedestrian-only streets, footpaths and roads.
Distances are measured from the centre point of your home to the centre point of the school grounds. It doesn't matter which school gate is used. Distances are accurate to six decimal places.
What we mean by “admitted on the grounds of religion or belief”
We will get proof from your child’s school that they offered them a place because they are baptised or accepted as a member of another Christian faith recognised by Churches Together in England.
Children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)
Your child can get free travel if they can’t walk to school because of their special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) or mobility problem. It doesn’t matter how far away they live.
Children over 16 in further education or sixth form
If your child is over 16 and goes to further education or sixth form full-time, they may be able to get help with travel through the 16 to 19 bursary or if they have special educational needs and disabilities up to age 25.
Other help with travel to school
If your child doesn’t get free school travel, they can get reduced fares with a Nexus POP card.
You can buy a child season ticket if you don't want to give your child cash every day.
Plan your child’s route to school on public transport using the Nexus Journey Planner.
Find out about different ways of sustainable travel such as walking and cycling to school.