School travel support

Travel assistance for children and young people in school and sixth form/college

Transport for London (TfL) operates a scheme of free and/or discounted travel for children under the age of 18 in full-time education as shown below:

AgeFree travelDiscounted travel

Under 11 (5-10)

If children are travelling without an adult or look older than 10 they will need a  5-10 Zip Oyster photocard

Bus, tube, tram, DLR and London Overground



Bus and tram (with a valid 11-15 Zip Oyster photocard)

Child fares on tube, DLR, London Overground and most National Rail services

16-19 years old (in full-time education or on a work-based learning scheme)

Bus and tram (with a valid 16+ Zip Oyster photocard) if living in a London Borough

Child rate 7 day, monthly or longer period travel cards

Half adult rate (pay as you go) tickets on tube, DLR, London Overground and most National Rail services


You must apply online via If you need assistance please contact the Oyster helpline on 0343 222 1234. 

However, if travel assistance is required outside the scope of free travel arrangements and any other alternatives, you can make an application to Pupil Services for travel assistance. 

Travel assistance for children in primary and secondary school

Who is eligible?

Tower Hamlets can provide assistance for eligible children of compulsory school age who meet the following criteria:

  • Children unable to walk safely to school because of the nature of their Special Educational Needs or Education, Health and Care Plan, disability or mobility problems (including temporary medical conditions) - find out more about school travel for children with special education needs 
  • Children unable to walk in safety to school because of the nature of the route
  • Children living outside ‘statutory walking distance’ (2 miles for children under 8 and 3 miles for children over 8 years of age).
  • Children entitled to Free School Meals, or whose parents are in receipt of their maximum level of Working Tax Credit
  • Children attending a school where the education provided is that of the faith to which the parent adheres.
  • Children whose parent/carer’s disability prevents him/her from accompanying a child along a walking route which can be considered safe

Children will usually only be eligible for travel assistance if the council cannot offer a place at a suitable alternative school.  Therefore please ensure that you have made an application to three of your local schools before submitting an application. 

If your application for travel assistance is refused, then you have a right of appeal against the decision and you will be advised of this in your letter.

If you would like to request travel assistance you can download the form here: Application Form for Travel Assistance and read Guidance Notes or alternatively contact Pupil Services on 020 7364 5006.

Travel assistance for students in further education
(16- to 19-year-olds)

Tower Hamlets council also has a travel support scheme to enable further education students to access and attend the education and training of their choice.

Who is eligible?

Support can be provided to students who meet the following criteria: 

  • are aged 16-18 or and a continuing learner who started their course before their 19th birthday
  • live over three miles from the school or college to be attended.
  • come from a family whose taxable income was £30,810 or less in the period April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2016,
  • do not receive a 16-19 Bursary
  • receive a 16-19 bursary, but are taking a specialist course* and have to pay fares of £10 or more per week to attend it

In line with government guidance, more favourable conditions apply to students with special educational need (SEN) or an Education, Health and Care Plan.

*Defined as a course that ends with a nationally recognised vocational qualification and does not include GCSE, AS, A2 or A level courses that cannot be taken locally.

If you would like to apply you may download the form and guidance notes or alternatively contact Pupil Services on 020 7364 5006 for a form.

Additional information

  • You must be resident in Tower Hamlets to apply for travel assistance and be able to provide us with proof of your address i.e. recent Council Tax bill.
  • There may be a number of reasons as to why you are applying for travel assistance, for example, you have younger children or there are medical reasons affecting your ability to take your child to school. You must make sure that you provide all the necessary supporting information with your application, especially if you are requesting the provision of school transport
  • Please refer to the application form and guidance notes for further details

Any delay or failure to provide this information will affect the outcome of your application.

Making a decision

Pupil Services will decide on the form of travel assistance that is most suitable (i.e. bursary, travel card for parent or child, place on the school bus etc), taking into account the age and needs of the child, the distance from home to school, transport provision currently available and any other relevant factors.

Please see the guidance notes for help with completing the application.

Advice on travel support for young students in further education

The following document has been compiled to give advice on travel issues to students over sixteen taking courses up to AS level standard, for example Foundation Art, BTEC National Diploma. 

The majority of the information is aimed at people in the sixteen to nineteen age group, but some support extends beyond the age of nineteen. 

Download the Transport Policy Statement

How to contact us

For further information, please contact the Pupil Services team:

Pupil Services
Town Hall
Mulberry Place
5 Clove Crescent E14 2BG

Tel: 020 7364 5006

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