Getting a child to school safely and on time can be a challenge. Some children are eligible for assistance with school transport from their local education and library board. Children with disabilites or special educational needs may get special help.
Does my child qualify for assistance with school transport?
Education and library boards must provide assistance with school transport where a child meets the eligibility criteria. Your child will be entitled to assistance if there is no suitable school within statutory walking distance of your home, or if they have been refused a place in all suitable schools within statutory walking distance.
Statutory walking distance, or qualifying distance, is a threshold which determines whether the cost of home to school transport assistance should be met by the education and library board or whether it rests with the parent. Statutory walking distance, or qualifying distance, does not mean that children must walk. It is the responsibility of parents residing under the qualifying distance to determine whatever method they consider most appropriate to deliver their child to and from school.
A suitable school is defined solely as one in the recognised categories of Controlled, Integrated, Irish-Medium, Maintained, Denominational or non-Denominational grammar. Statutory walking, or eligibility distance, is two miles for primary pupils and three miles for post-primary pupils.
The eligibility distance is measured by the shortest route along which a child, accompanied as necessary, can walk with reasonable safety. As such, the route measured may include footpaths and other pathways, as well as roads.
If there is no such route, the board must provide assistance with transport no matter what distance you live from the school.
If your child is eligible for assistance with transport, it is up to your local board to decide on the means of transport or other assistance that is necessary.
How to apply
Contact your local education and library board for an application form.
- Belfast Education and Library Board: 028 9056 4000
- North-Eastern Education and Library Board: 028 2565 3333
- South-Eastern Education and Library Board: 028 9056 6200
- Southern Education and Library Board: 028 3751 2200
- Western Education and Library Board: 028 8241 1411
Children with special needs or disabilities
Boards should take any disability or special educational needs into account when deciding whether school transport is necessary.
If your child has a statement of special educational needs that includes transport requirements, your local board must provide transport assistance in line with board arrangements.
Help may still be available
In some cases, school transport for pupils who live closer than the statutory walking distance may be available for pupils who don’t qualify automatically. This is a decision for your local education and library board.
Walking and cycling safely
The Travelwise Safer Routes to School initiative is led by the Department for Regional Development in partnership with the Department of Education. This encourages young people to walk, cycle and use public transport.
Additional information is available at: