Consultation and engagement

Consultation on proposed changes to the Home to School Transport Policy and Post 16 Transport Statement

Start date: 4th March 2024 
End date: 10th May 2024

What are we consulting on?

Liverpool City Council is committed to ensuring that all children and young people have a great start to life, are safe and healthy and have access to high quality education so that they can achieve their full potential.

As a council we are committed to meeting the educational needs of as many children and young people as possible within local schools. In most cases, this will mean that pupils can walk or cycle to school with their parents or carers.

We are also committed to ensuring that those aged 16 and over, including those with Education, Health & Care Plans up to the age of 25, have access to educational opportunities at school, college, or other education settings. Part of this our ambition is for as many students as possible to travel independently using a sustainable form of transport.

The Home to School Travel Policy for Compulsory School Age Pupils and the Post-16 Transport Statement set out how we help a small number of pupils who find it difficult to travel to school or college without some assistance.

The Department for Education sets out the statutory responsibilities for local authorities and their duties in supporting children and young people with travel assistance. As a council we must deliver these statutory responsibilities.

Why are we consulting?

Statutory guidance from the Department for Education has recently been updated and Liverpool wants to ensure our policies are in line with national guidance.

The current Home to School Transport Policy provides several discretionary elements additional to our statutory responsibilities. As a result, the overall budget for Home to School transport is projected an overspend by an estimated £4million in financial year 2023/24. As a local authority we can no longer afford these costs and need to ensure limited funding is targeted to support those most in need.

Benchmarking shows that most local authorities have removed criteria that had been applied under the local authority’s discretionary powers and only offer statutory provision, this includes, neighbouring local authorities such as Knowsley and Wirral and core cities such as Birmingham, Sheffield, Newcastle and Manchester.

The current Post 16 travel statement provides free transport for children with an Education Health Care Plan, this arrangement is no longer sustainable, and the council can ask for a learner contribution towards the cost of providing transport as set out in the statutory guidance.

Anyone who currently receives transport, or a travel pass will not be affected by any changes whilst they are in their current school or college course.

What are our proposals?

Proposal one

It is proposed that the Home to School Travel Policy be updated to align the definition of nearest suitable school with the DfE definition – one that is suitable for the child’s age, ability, aptitude, and any special educational needs they may have. It should also be suitable for the child’s gender.

This change in policy would mean that the discretions relating choice of school for religious or cultural beliefs would no longer apply.

Importantly, this does not affect a parent’s right to express a preference for a school of their choice as part of the admissions process.

Proposal two

It is proposed to align the qualifying walking distance for pupils aged 8-10 from 2 miles to the DfE qualifying walking distance of 3 miles.

Proposal three

It is proposed that the Home to School Travel Policy is updated and aligned with statutory guidance to deliver statutory provision and that discretionary elements will no longer automatically apply.

Support for those most in need will be covered by proposal four below.

  • Pupils aged 8 years to 10 years qualifying distance of 2 miles.
  • Pupils in year 6 who move to a new home in Liverpool that is more than the
    qualifying walking distance.
  • Pupils in year 10 or 11 who move to a new home in Liverpool that is more than the qualifying walking distance.
  • Where, following permanent exclusion, a pupil is placed in a suitable qualifying school that is over the qualifying walking distance.

Proposal four

It is proposed that the Home to School Travel Policy be updated to add an Extra-ordinary Circumstances Category for those most in need; including Looked After Children, Emergency Orders/Special Guardianship Orders, victims of domestic violence, low-income families who do not meet the Free School Meal threshold and other vulnerable families.

Proposal five

It is proposed that the Post 16 Statement be updated with the Introduction of a Learner Contribution of £680 reduced by 50% for students who would have qualified for free school meals.

How to comment

We'd like to hear your views on these proposals. Please fill in our quick online survey using the button below.

Complete our online consultation survey now

What happens to my views?

All responses will be held securely and will be viewed only by a small team. The data collected in this survey will be securely deleted as soon as it is no longer needed.

We will gather your views together, prepare our findings and present them to the council’s Cabinet meeting in June 2024.

Proposed changes to the current policies would be implemented for academic year 2024/2025 for Post 16, and 2025/26 for Home to School Transport.

If you are currently receiving transport assistance and your circumstances do not change, you will not be impacted by the proposed changes.

Read our FAQs for further information

The consultation will be live from 4th March 2024 to 12th April 2024.

We are aiming that as many people as possible who may be impacted by our proposals are consulted. Responses are being invited from Children and Young People, Parents/Carers in receipt of Home to School or Post 16 assistance.

Yes. The consultation is open to all Liverpool residents regardless of which school the child is attending.

No. No changes to the policy will take effect until academic year 2025/2026 for home to school and 2024/25 for post 16.

If there are no changes to the child's current circumstances, for example a change of school or home address, there will be no need to make a new application for transport in the current year.

The standard renewal process will include notification on the need to reapply where appropriate, as it has in previous years.

Yes, your responses will still be considered as part of the consultation. You must re-apply for transport assistance in the meantime, so that eligibility for transport assistance from your new address can be established.

Your responses will be combined with everyone else's to form an anonymous report. This report will be used to understand community views and inform our decision-making. We will publish a summary of the feedback received alongside our decision.