If your child does not meet the criteria you may still be able to get help if their needs make their journey to school difficult. We will consider their case based on individual circumstances.
The Special Education Needs Assessment Team (SENAT) will inform the Transport Team that your child is eligible for assistance to get to school.
2 What happens next
Once the Special Education Needs Assessment Team (SENAT) have passed your details to the Transport Team, we will contact you. This is usually within three working days from the date that we receive the information from SENAT.
Your transport planner will send you a health and safety form which you will need to complete and return to us.
The transport planner will use all this information to draft a Transport Care Plan (TCP) and organise suitable transport. This could be public transport, a minibus or taxi; fuel payments are also available.
The transport team will be provided with a copy of the TCP which will be kept securely on the vehicle throughout the journey, to help staff understand the child or young person’s needs.
We will review your transport arrangements each year and encourage independent travel where possible.
3 What you can expect
As well as a driver, some routes may also have a passenger assistant (PA) on the vehicle. The points below outline the standards you can expect from the driver and PA.
Parents are not permitted to access the vehicle at any time, unless prior arrangements have been made with the Transport Bureau for manual handling or lifting purposes.
- Both the driver and PA will have an up-to-date Disclosure and Barring Service clearance.
- The driver will display their driver’s badge in a prominent position on their outer clothing.
- The PA will display a West Sussex County Council issued photograph identification badge in a prominent position on their outer clothing. At all times they will wear a high visibility jacket/waistcoat.
- In exceptional circumstances only, the vehicle will wait for up to 3 minutes for late passengers.
- The driver/PA will advise parents if the route is operating more than 15 minutes late.
- The driver/PA will assist passengers on/off the vehicle where necessary, but do not carry out manual handling/lifting.
- The driver/PA will ensure the passengers are comfortable and that seatbelts are secured before the vehicle sets off.
- The driver/PA will always return a passenger to his/her parent or guardian or agreed nominated adult. Under no circumstances whatsoever will they leave any passenger unattended, unless specifically authorised.
- The driver/PA will never give any gifts whatsoever to the passengers - this includes sweets, food and drink.
- The driver/PA will provide a smoke-free environment for passengers.
- The driver/PA will not have inappropriate conversations with the passengers.
- The driver/PA will not use mobile phones or cameras to take any photographs or recordings of passengers.
- All reasonable steps will be taken by the Transport Bureau and operators to ensure the same PA is used regularly.
- Where possible the PA will travel in the rear of the vehicle with the passengers.
- Passengers travelling in wheelchairs must always face forward in the vehicle and be secured. They must never be transported, for even a short distance, without the appropriate restraint equipment. When passengers are travelling up or down on tail-lifts in their wheelchairs, the wheelchair brakes must be applied.
4 Frequently asked questions
I have been told I will get free school transport, when will this start?
If you are joining a school during the academic year, we will endeavour to start your transport within three weeks of SENAT notifying us that your child is eligible. However, please note in some cases this may be longer.
For those children starting at a new school at the start of September, transport would usually be available from the first day of term. We will notify you about the transport arrangements at least two weeks before the transport is due start. If, due to short notice, we are unable to arrange for transport to be in place, we will keep you informed.
Will my child’s transport arrangements change once they have started?
It is not always possible to provide the same vehicle, operator, driver or escort each day.
Throughout the year, and particularly at the start of each new school year, the Transport Team may need to make adjustments to the arrangements which could result in a change of operator, escort, vehicle and timings.
The Transport Team will always give as much notice as possible of any changes to the service, but occasionally they may not be able to give parents/carers prior notice of the change.
Can I choose which vehicle my child travels on if there is more than one vehicle serving my local area?
No, transport is allocated based on the child’s home address and they will be offered a seat based on the nearest appropriate transport.
Can I change the pickup time?
Our transport team are unable to change pickup times, as these are scheduled by our planning system.
Can I arrange for transport to or from a different address?
No, we can only provide transport from the registered address held on our records.
Do I need to provide a car seat?
No, our operators will provide suitable car seats for your child.
What happens if my child behaves inappropriately in the vehicle?
We ask that parents/carers ensure their children are aware of the Behaviour Code of Conduct (see below) detailed in our SEND school transport policy prior to using the school transport service. Children must wear their seatbelt and must always remain seated unless otherwise instructed.
Serious poor behaviour, where dangerous, may result in police action. Disruptive or violent behaviour may result in a written warning, temporary suspension or withdrawal of the service.
My child is bringing a friend home for dinner, can they also use the transport?
No, only children who have been authorised can travel on WSCC transport.
Do you provide transport for after school activities/school holiday clubs or induction and transition days?
We don’t provide transport for after school clubs or classes/detention. You will need to make your own arrangements for any after-school activities or transition/taster days.
What happens if my child is running late?
The Transport Team will advise the parent/carer of the estimated pick-up time when arrangements are finalised (which may be adjusted during the course of the year). The vehicle will wait for three minutes on a home pickup, but will not wait beyond the advised time for children who are late for a central pick-up point. If your child misses their pickup, no alternative transport will be provided.
I am unhappy with some of the other passengers on the vehicle, can you change my child's route?
We are unable to offer route changes, but would encourage you to support your child ready for transport and allow some time for the new route to settle down. If there are any issues on the route the passenger assistant or driver are there to deal with the issue.
Who is responsible for my child between home and the pickup point?
Parents/carers are responsible for the safety of their child between home and until they get on the vehicle. To ensure their safety, students with Special Educational Needs must be accompanied by a parent/carer to and from the pickup/drop off point. If you are unable to do so, or if you are sending someone else in your place, or if you feel that your child is sufficiently independent to go on their own, you must complete our consent form.
For home pickups, please bring your child out to the vehicle in the mornings and ensure that you, or an approved adult, is waiting to receive the child from the homeward journey.
The driver or escort will not be able to leave the vehicle to find a child’s parent/carer, it is your responsibility to be at the drop off point at the allotted time. The usual protocol when there is no-one to receive the child is to contact Social Services. If your child requires lifting in or out of the vehicle/car seat, you will be required to do this. You may also be asked to secure your child’s harness.
What should I do if my child is sick and does not require transport?
You should inform your operator or Passenger Assistant (if applicable) if your child does not require collecting for any reason. If your child falls ill during the school day, it is your responsibility to bring them home and advise the operator or School Escort (if applicable) when transport is required again.
Operator details are included in the letter sent to you when transport is initially set up.
When will my child’s Transport Care Plan be updated?
You should let our school transport planners know if your child’s needs have changed. Please complete our online enquiry form.
Can my child eat or drink on board transport?
No, we do not allow any food or drink to be consumed on board transport. Food or drink can be transported to school in your child’s school bag, but must not be consumed on board as this poses a health and safety risk.
My child may have left their school bag or other personal item on board the transport, what can I do?
We are not responsible for loss or damage of personal belongings including electronic devices that pupils bring on transport. If your child thinks they have left their belongings on the vehicle contact the transport operator directly.
Operator contact details are included in the letter you received when transport was initially set up.
What should I do if I'm moving house?
Please complete our enquiry form to let us know if you are moving house, please let us have as much notice as possible (minimum two weeks), as we many need to source another provider for your transport providing you’re still eligible for assistance.
I am unhappy with my child’s transport, what should I do?
Please complete our feedback form so that we can pass your concerns onto the correct team to help you.
I have some safeguarding concerns about operator staff, how can I report this?
All safeguarding concerns are reporting to WSCC Safeguarding Team. Please complete our enquiry form so that we can pass on your concerns to the correct team.
5 Transport enquiries
If you have any queries or issues regarding school transport complete our online form.
Our standard response time is usually within two working days, although we will be in touch sooner if we can.School transport enquiry form for parents and carers (external link)