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SCHOOL TRANSPORT – LEGAL ISSUES
by Michael Imperato, New Law Solicitors
Head of ELPL & Occupational Illness (Solicitor)
Cardiff CF10 2HE
Tel: 02920 784506
Local Education Authorities (LEAs) have to make appropriate arrangements to provide free transport for children to attend school (Education Act 1996 s.509). This applies if the school is outside walking distance.
Walking distance is defined as 2 miles or 3 miles when the child is aged 8 years or over. This is measured by the “nearest available route”. The LEA must have regard to the safety of the route.
If an LEA provides transport it must be “non stressful” – R v Hereford & Worcester CC (1992). There is no prescribed maximum limit to journey times and each case will turn on its own facts. Best practice suggests that the maximum length of a one-way journey for a child or primary school age should be 45 minutes.
If an LEA changes its policies on transport, there must be consultation with those families affected – Ex P Schemet.
The Education Act 1996 requires the Local Education Authority to also take into account any religious preferences of the parents in considering whether it should make transport arrangements.
Thanks to BUSK, Local Authorities have become more aware of their responsibilities to ensure the health and safety of pupils and students.
The Bichard Inquiry, undertaken following the Soham murders, made recommendations as to the vetting of those who have contact with children, including drivers and escorts. There has also been subsequent legislation such as,” The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006”
I have been involved in one of the most important cases on the rights of parents to express preference for a school and receive free transport in the case of Jones & Others v Ceredigion CC. I have also acted for a number of children involved in road traffic accidents and, health and safety issues arising from school provided transport, including issues in respect of adequacy of transport escorts for disabled children in my career prior to joining New Law.
Michael Imperato is recognized by independent legal directories as one of the country’s leading personal injury lawyers, as well as one of the leading education lawyers acting for children and the vulnerable.