School travel support

Have your say on the Post-16 transport policy statement. This sets out the travel support available for young people of sixth form age to attend education or training from September 2024.

Complete the  survey and let us know what you think about our statement or contact us on 020 7364 4435. 

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)

Will need a  5-10 Zip Oyster photocard

Free travel on  tube, DLR, London Overground and Elizabeth Line (excluding between West Drayton and Reading) and most National Rail services that accept pay as you go

50% off adult rate tickets on the Uber Boat by Thames Clippers River Bus services

Child rate pay as you go on the

Emirates Air Line



Will need a valid 11-15 Zip oyster photocard

Free travel on bus and tram 

Child-rate pay as you go fares on Tube, DLR, London Overground, Elizabeth line (excluding between West Drayton and Reading) and Emirates Air Line

50% off adult rate tickets on the 50% off most fares on National Rail services and Uber Boat by Thames Clippers River Bus services

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

Will need a valid 16+ oyster photocard

Free travel on bus and tram (if you live in London

50% off adult rate fares on Tube, DLR, London Overground, Elizabeth line (excluding between West Drayton and Reading) and most National Rail services

Child rate 7 Day, Monthly or longer period Travelcard and Bus & Tram Pass


(and student or apprentice and living in a London borough)

Discounted travel with an Oyster photocard.


Save 30% on adult-rate Travelcards and Bus & Tram Pass season tickets.

Save 34% on pay as you go off-peak fares and daily caps by adding a 16-25 Railcard or 26-30 Railcard to your 18+ Student Oyster photocard to travel on the Tube, London Overground, Elizabeth line and most National Rail services in London.

Please visit Free and discounted travel - Transport for London ( or call 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. If you require support that is not met by free public transport or 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?

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 your local schools before applying for travel assistance.

[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 a resident of Tower Hamlets
  • are aged 16-18 or a 'continuing learner' who started their course before their 19th birthday
  • are attending a full-time course in a maintained school sixth form/college or other establishment. Assistance is not provided to students attending private (independent) fee paying establishments
  • are attending the nearest maintained establishment at which the course, or the majority of the course is offered (i.e. at least 50 per cent of the course). If the young person is attending a specialist course, this must be one that ends with a nationally recognised vocational qualification such as BTEC or NVQ
  • the establishment is over three miles from the young person’s home address
  • their parents’ taxable income was £18,210 or less in the last financial year

If the young person has special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) and an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) you may be eligible for support from the SEN team (contact details above).

Additional information

  • It can take up to 30 days for your application to be processed.
  • 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
  • You should provide all the necessary supporting information with your application. Any delays or failure to provide this information will affect the outcome of your application
  • Please refer to the application form and guidance notes for further details (See below).

Read the council’s travel assistance policy.

How do I apply?

You can download the form or contact Pupil Services on 020 7364 5006 for a hard copy.

Please view the guidance notes  before completing the application. 

If you need any support or advice, contact Pupil Services using the following details.

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

The transport policy statement provides information and advice for young people in Year 11-13 and their parents/carers about the travel arrangements and support available locally. It outlines who is eligible for support, how and when to apply for support as well as information for young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities.  

Download the Transport Policy Statement.

Contact details for Travel Assistance and Elective Home Education:

  • Ali Akbar – Travel Assistance officer
    Tel: 020 7364 4435

  • Karen O’ Brien – Lead officer for Children Missing Education (CME) and Elective Home Education (EHE)
    Tel: 020 7364 3439

  • Rehanaz Begum – Operations Manager for CME, EHE and Scholars travel
    Tel: 020 7364 1427 (available Tuesday to Thursday)

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