Criteria for parents and carers

Standard entitlement criteria

Pupils are entitled under the standard criteria if they meet the following:

  • where a child attends their nearest qualifying school and where the shortest available walking route from their home address is greater than 3 miles if they are over 8 years and 2 miles for pupils aged 5 to 8.

The nearest qualifying school is defined by us as:

  • the school geographically nearest to the pupil’s home address that is suitable for the child’s age, ability and aptitude.

We can only distinguish between non-selective and selective schools and cannot take into account the individual specialist status of a school. When deciding which is the nearest qualifying school, we do not consider a parent’s preference for a single sex, mixed or specialist school.

Low-income entitlement criteria

Pupils are entitled under the low-income criteria if the parent or carer meets the following criteria and benefit criteria:

  • where a child from a low-income family lives more than 2 miles, but not more than 6 miles, from 1 of their 3 nearest qualifying schools.

Free school meal entitlement

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • the guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • Child Tax Credit (provided you’re not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190)
  • Universal Credit - if you apply on or after 1 April 2018 your household income must be less than £7,400 a year (after tax and not including any benefits you get).

Working Tax Credit entitlement

Where a family is receiving the maximum level of Working Tax Credit (WTC). This can be determined by looking at your TC602 tax credit award notice. Under part 2, ‘How we work out your tax credits’ it lists ‘reduction due to your income’ and shows the net amount payable.

If any amount is shown here, you’re only receiving a reduced sum due to income and therefore are not entitled to the maximum level of working tax credit.

If proof of benefit has been requested then a copy of the parent or carer’s benefit paperwork is needed to assess the application further. Proof of benefit needs to be:

  • in the applicants name and current address
  • no older than 6 weeks, unless it’s a tax credit award notice, this needs to be in the current financial year
  • complete: all pages of the benefit letter need to be submitted for full assessment.

If the proof of benefit we receive does not meet any of the above criteria, it will be returned stating the reason why.

Low-income bus pass renewal

Your entitlement to free home to school transport will be assessed before the end of each academic year, to confirm that you're still receiving the required benefits.

You may be asked to provide paper proof of benefit at this time and a low-income renewal application form will be sent to your home address. This needs to be completed and sent back with the enclosed proof of benefit for your application to be assessed in time for the new academic year.

You should also read the bus pass renewal terms and bus company information.

Pupils assessed as not entitled

If you have been refused assistance with transport to a school you can appeal against this decision.

Contact information

If you have any questions about these processes please contact our School Admissions and Transport Team:

  • address: School Admissions and Transport Team, Gun Wharf, Dock Road, Chatham, ME4 4TR
  • email:
  • telephone: 01634 331 155
  • fax: 01634 331 614.

Read the Education Travel Assistance Policy.