Important Information: Suffolk School Travel Changes from September 2019

As you will be aware Suffolk County Council (SCC) is implementing changes to its School Travel Policy from September 2019. We have previously written to all schools and Town and Parish councils with information about the policy changes and how they may affect families in your area.
 
The opt-in process for those pupils who are eligible for SCC funded school travel for the 2019/2020 school year opens on 1 March 2019 with a deadline of 31 May 2019. SCC will be using various communications channels to cascade the opt-in message to parents/families.

  • Social media – Facebook and Twitter
  • Media – news stories
  • Councillors – briefings at local meetings
  • Primary School and Secondary School national offer days – emails and letters
  • Education Officers who visit schools
  • Websites – www.suffolk.gov.uk and www.suffolkonboard.com/optin 
  • Newsletters – Suffolk Headlines, Governors, Post-16 providers
  • Poster


Statutory School Age School Travel Policy
Children living in Suffolk who will be starting at a new school in September 2019 will be eligible for SCC funded school travel when they are over 2 miles (under 8 years old) or 3 miles (aged 8 or over) walking distance from their nearest suitable school that would have had a place available for them. This would be whether or not an application was made for a place at that school. Full details about SCC funded school travel, including additional arrangements for low income families and those with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), can be found at www.suffolkonboard.com/schooltravel
 
New pupils
In the first year of change the new school travel policy will only impact on those starting or moving school with effect from September 2019. 
 

  • For those starting at secondary/upper schools parents will be informed if their child is eligible by 30 April 2019.
  • For those starting at primary/middle schools in September 2019, parents will be informed if their child is eligible for SCC funded travel by 14 May 2019.
  • If parents do not hear from us by the date shown above and believe their child is eligible for SCC funded school travel, they should contact the Customer Service Team on 0345 606 6173 or email them at customer.services@suffolk.gov.uk.   Information about those who are eligible to SCC funded travel will be provided to the child’s current and receiving school.


Returning pupils
The new policy is being phased in.  This means that children who receive SCC funded school travel in the 2018/2019 school year will continue to receive this whilst they continue to attend the same school, unless they turn 8 years of age and live between 2 and 3 miles from their current school, or move house at which time eligibility would be reassessed.
 
To opt-in (apply) for SCC funded school travel
For transport in September 2019 and all future years, families whose child/ren are eligible for SCC funded school travel will need to opt-in to receive their transport. This is a change from previous years.

This important change means that parents whose children are eligible will have to opt-in by 31 May each year for school travel to be provided in the following school year as this will no longer be provided automatically.
 
This includes:

  1. Those currently eligible and who have SCC funded school travel under the old policy arrangements because they will be in Year 1 to Year 6, or Year 8 to Year 11 in September 2019 (and have not moved address) or
  2. are eligible under the new travel policy.

Recent research has shown that some families, although eligible to SCC funded school travel, do not use their seat(s).  Suffolk County Council consequently is funding seats which are unused and therefore, we are asking families to opt-in.
 
Post-16 Travel Policy Statement for September 2019:
The Post-16 Policy has not changed other than agreed increases to the cost of a seat until the charge equals the average cost.  For September 2019/2020 school year the charge will be £750 per annum.
The financial contribution for students with SEND for 2019/2020 school year will be £690.
 
Suffolk Brokerage Service:
If any school or local community would like to access capacity building support to assist them in running travel arrangements themselves, please contact customer.services@suffolk.gov.uk.  For more information on how town and parish councils can get involved look at the Sustainable Modes of Travel Strategy at  www.suffolkonboard.com/smot
 
Thank you for your support in ensuring we provide clear information about the changes to Suffolk’s School Travel Policy to parents whose children are eligible for SCC funded school travel.
 
Yours sincerely,
Gordon Jones                                              
Cabinet member for Children’s Services, Education & Skills