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 in the following table:

School assisted travel
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)

Half adult rate on tube, DLR, London Overground TfL Rail and most National Rail services

16-17 years old (in full-time education or on a work-based learning scheme)

Bus and tram (with a valid 16+ Zip Oyster photocard)

Half adult rate on tube, DLR, London Overground TfL Rail and most National Rail services



34 per cent discount on off-peak pay as you go fares and off-peak daily caps on tube, DLR, London Overground, TfL Rail and most National Rail services

You must have an 18+ Student Oyster photocard


There are more details on TfL's website.

If you need assistance please contact the Oyster helpline on 0343 222 1234 for further information and advice on concessions and how to apply for a Zip card.  The council expects residents to make use of concessions offered by TfL.

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. 

Important changes due to COVID-19

Free bus and tram travel for under-18s is being reviewed due to the coronavirus pandemic and there may be changes in the near future. You might be entitled to free bus and tram travel if you meet certain eligibility criteria. You will need to pay a discounted fare if you do not meet the criteria.

We will keep you updated of any further developments.

TfL have also introduced important changes to travelling on public transport such as the legal requirement to wear a face covering, as well as  ‘school service’ buses for children and young people travelling to and from school. 

For up to date information on all these changes, please visit

Travel assistance for children in primary and secondary school

Contact details for Travel Assistance and Elective Home Education:

  • Rehanaz Begum - 020 7364 1427/07738 264417
  • Yasmin Ali - 020 7364 3439/07957688281
  • Ali Akbar - 020 7364 4435/07714642412

Who is eligible?

The council has a duty to make travel arrangements as considered necessary in order to facilitate the school attendance of an ‘eligible’ [1] child. 

The child must be registered at a ‘qualifying school’ [2].

 Eligible children are those of compulsory school age (5-16) who meet the following criteria:

1. Statutory walking distance - children who are attending a school that is beyond two miles for a pupil under the age of 8 or three miles for children ages 8 or over

2. Special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) or mobility problem - children who cannot reasonably be expected to walk to school because of their mobility problems or because of associated health and safety issues related to SEND, including temporary medical conditions. If your child has an education, health or care plan (EHCP) you should contact the SEN team to find out more about school travel for children with SEND.

Tel: 020 7364 5000 - Email

3. Unsafe route - children who cannot be reasonably be expected to walk to school because of the nature of the route

4. Extended rights eligibility - children entitled to free school meals or those whose parents are in receipt of their maximum level of Working Tax Credit and:

  • the school is beyond two miles (for children over the age of 8 and under 11)
  • the school is between2 and 6 miles (if aged 11-16 and there are no suitable nearer schools)
  • The school is between 2 and 15 miles and is the nearest preferred on the grounds of religion or belief (aged 11-16)

We will also consider whether there are any medical reasons affecting the parent/carer's ability to accompany the child to and from school 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.

[1] Schedule 35B of the Education Act 1996, as inserted by Part 6 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006 (the EIA 2006)

[2] Section 508B(10) of the Education Act 1996, as inserted by Part 6 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006 (the EIA 2006).

Travel assistance for students in further education
(16-18 year olds)

The council also provides travel assistance to enable young people (over 16) in further education to access and attend the education and training of their choice.

Who is eligible?

Young people can apply for travel assistance if they meet the following criteria: 

  • are aged 16-18 or a 'continuing learner' who started their course before their 19th birthday
  • live over three miles from the learning or training provider i.e. school/college/establishment funded directly by the Education Funding Agency (EFA) to be attended.
  • their parents taxable income was £30,810 or less in the period 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019,
  • do not receive a 16-19 bursary or
  • 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.

*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.

In line with government guidance, more favourable conditions apply to students with special educational need (SEN) or an Education, Health and Care Plan and these young people and their parents are advised to contact the SEN team for further advice before completing a travel assistance application 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.
  • You must be registered at the 'qualifying school', learning or training provider and provide proof of registration if necessary.
  • Please provide all the necessary supporting information with your application in order to help us process your application as soon as possible.
  • 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.

Read the council’s travel assistance policy.

How do I apply?

You can apply online for travel assistance

Alternatively you can download the form or contact Pupil Services on 020 7364 5006.

You can view the guidance notes for completing the application form. Please ensure that you have read and fully understood the guidance notes before completing the application. 

If you need any advice or would like to request the application be posted to you, then please contact Pupil Services using the details as follows.

Making a decision

When processing your application the council will consider the most suitable form of travel assistance taking into account the age and needs of the child, the distance from home to school and any other relevant factors. You will receive a letter informing you of the outcome of your application.


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

Advice on travel support for young students in further education

Have your say on our ‘Post-16 transport policy statement’ which sets out the travel support that is available to young people to attend education or training from September 2022 – visit Post-16 transport policy statement (2022) | Let’s Talk Tower Hamlets

The transport policy statement has been compiled to give advice to young people in Years 11, 12 and 13 and their parents about the transport arrangements and support available locally. 

It contains information about who is eligible for support and how and when to apply for support as well as specific information for young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities. 

Download the Transport Policy Statement.

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