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Education and Inspections Act 2006

Section 77: LEAs in England: provision of travel arrangements etc for children

346.Subsection (1) inserts new sections 508B, 508C and 508D in the 1996 Act.

347.Section 508B places a duty on local education authorities in England relating to home to school travel arrangements for ‘eligible children’. ‘Eligible children’ are defined in Schedule 35B (see below).

348.Section 508B requires local education authorities to ensure that suitable travel arrangements for ‘eligible children’ in their area are made to facilitate their attendance at relevant educational establishments (which are defined in subsection (10)). Under subsection (1), an authority must make, in the case of an eligible child to whom subsection (2) applies, such travel arrangements as they consider necessary in order to secure that suitable home to school travel arrangements, for the purpose of facilitating the child’s attendance at the relevant educational establishment in relation to him, are made and provided free of charge.

349.An eligible child to whom subsection (2) applies is an eligible child in relation to whom (a) no travel arrangements are provided free of charge by persons other than the authority (such as a local transport body, or a school), or (b) such travel arrangements are so provided but taken together they do not provide suitable home to school travel arrangements. For example, in London, Transport for London provides free bus passes for all children under the age of 16, and in most circumstances, London local education authorities may therefore consider that they do not need to make any additional arrangements for the majority of the children living in their area. Alternatively, a school might reach an agreement with a local education authority to make transport arrangements, or a parent might consent to use of his or her car in return for a mileage allowance. Such arrangements might mean that the local education authority had ensured that suitable arrangements had been made.

350.The type of arrangements that might not be considered to provide suitable travel arrangements might be arrangements where an eligible child is expected to make several changes of public service bus to get to school, resulting in an unreasonably long journey time; or where he is expected to walk an unreasonably long distance to catch a public service bus to school. The suitability of arrangements will depend on a number of factors, and the Secretary of State will include in guidance under section 508D a range of factors for local education authorities to take into account when considering the suitability of travel arrangements.

351.Section 508B(3) means that the duty applies to ‘home to school to home’ travel arrangements, and not travel between educational institutions.

352.Section 508B(4) sets out a non-exhaustive definition of ‘travel arrangements’. These may include the provision of a seat on a bus provided by the local education authority; the provision of a bus pass on a public service bus; provision of an escort; mileage allowances for travel by car; cycling allowances; and so on. Further details will be provided in guidance issued by the Secretary of State. This subsection also explains that certain arrangements will only count if they are made with parental consent, for example, the payment of a cycling allowance or mileage allowance.

353.Section 508B(5) means that a local education authority cannot conclude that, merely because a parent has a car and could drive his or her child to school, the local education authority will not be under a duty to make arrangements. If a parent wishes to drive his or her child to school in lieu of the local education authority making travel arrangements, the parent can do so, but such arrangements can only be entered into voluntarily.

354.Section 508B(6) to (8) means that, for example, travel arrangements cannot be considered to have been provided free of charge if the parent of a child has to pay for a smart card (such as an Oyster card) that facilitates free travel.

355.Section 508B(10) defines “relevant educational establishment” in relation to “eligible children”. The “relevant educational establishments” are either ‘qualifying schools’ which are listed at paragraph 15 of Schedule 35B, or places (other than schools) where a child is receiving education by virtue of arrangements made under section 19(1) of the 1996 Act.

356.Section 508B(11) allows for regulations to be made to modify the application of section 508B(1) and (2) in relation to the small number of eligible children receiving education at more than one relevant educational establishment. For example, children of no fixed abode might be registered at more than one school, and other children may be registered at a hospital school and another school, etc.

357.Section 508C provides local education authorities with discretionary powers to make arrangements for children who are not ‘eligible children’ under section 508B.

358.Section 508C(1) to (3) provides a power for local education authorities to make travel arrangements to facilitate attendance for children not meeting the definition of ‘eligible children’ in Schedule 35B. For example, local education authorities may wish to make travel arrangements for children attending schools preferred on strong religious or philosophical grounds, or for children below compulsory school age or living within statutory walking distance. Statutory walking distance is defined in section 444(5) of the 1996 Act as meaning (a) in relation to a child who is under the age of eight, two miles and (b) in relation to a child who has attained the age of eight, three miles, in each case measured by the nearest available route. Many local education authorities have made such arrangements for many years and this power will enable them to continue to make such arrangements.

359.By contrast with section 508B, there is no requirement for these discretionary arrangements under section 508C to be provided free of charge.

360.Section 508C(5) provides a power for local education authorities to pay all or part of the reasonable travel expenses of children who have not had travel arrangements made under subsection (1). This is similar to the existing power under section 509(3) of the 1996 Act.

361.Section 508D requires the Secretary of State to issue guidance to local education authorities relating to the discharge of their duties and powers contained in sections 508B and 508C, and requires local education authorities to have regard to such guidance. This section also provides that regulations may require local education authorities to publish information relating to the discharge of their functions under section 508B or 508C.

362.Subsection (2) of section 77 introduces Schedule 8.

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