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The Education Authority has a statutory responsibility for the provision of transport assistance to facilitate attendance at a grant-aided school of pupils for whom fees are not paid and who are resident in Northern Ireland. This guide aims to help you navigate the transport application process.

 

How Can I Appeal a Decision?

What if my child has been refused transport assistance & I want to appeal this decision?

You must have formally applied for transport assistance using the Authority’s Online App before you can begin the Appeals process.

*You will be asked to provide your details and Application Reference Number during the Online Appeals process.

A. Road Safety

You can appeal an assessment of eligibility on the grounds that an element of your child’s journey should be excluded from the calculation of their distance to school due to exceptional road safety hazards. Transport assistance would only be awarded if this meant that your distance to school subsequently exceeds the statutory walking distance.

It is important to note that assessments:

  1. Are made on the basis that the child will be accompanied by an adult on the journey to and from school; including to and from the pickup point.
  2. Under Department of Education Transport Circular, parents can be expected to assist with the first 2 miles of their child’s journey to primary school and to accompany them to and from a pick-up/drop-off point. Department of Education Circular 1996/41 (Updated 2009) states “Boards/ESA have no obligation to provide door-to-door transport assistance. In practice, parents may be expected to contribute with assistance to their child of up to, but not exceeding, statutory walking distance. For example, when asked to assist their child to get a bus pick-up point.” Therefore, the EA will not normally consider appeals relating to this part of the journey.
  3. In accordance with the DE Circular 1996-41 the Authority “will not be expected to introduce new bus routes or services for individuals or small groups of pupils where the cost of such transport would result in unreasonable public expenditure”.
  4. Assessments are undertaken in line with Road Safety GB guidelines. Parents are encouraged to read this guidance prior to submitting an appeal, for example the absence of street lighting or a footpath does not automatically constitute an exceptional road safety hazard. 

Timeframe

Road Safety assessments can only be conducted during term time when schools are operational. The Authority will endeavour to provide a written update on the progress of your appeal within 20 working days. However, this timescale may not be feasible for Appeals submitted during school closures or during peak periods i.e. September/October and in this instance the Authority will provide an update as soon as practically possible.

If the Appeal is refused, there is no further right of Appeal to the Education Authority. 

If you feel that the appeals procedure has not been administered correctly you can contact us through the comments/complaints process at https://www.eani.org.uk/contact/comments-suggestions-and-complaints

Until you receive formal notification from the Authority regarding the outcome of an appeal all transport arrangements for your child/children remain a parental responsibility.

B. Refused Admission

I was refused admission to my nearest suitable school

You can appeal on these grounds if:

  • You have evidence that you applied and been refused admittance to ALL your nearest suitable school(s) at transfer stage; or
  • You have moved house since you last applied for transport and been formally refused admission to your nearest suitable school. (Written evidence from each school outlining that you have applied for, and been refused admission, must be submitted with your appeal).

Details of all your nearest suitable schools are included in the email you received from the Authority at the time of application. These can also be found by inputting your details via the Eligibility Checker 

Timeframe

The Authority will endeavour to provide a written update on the outcome of your appeal within 20 working days.

If the Appeal is refused, there is no further right of Appeal to the Education Authority. 

If you feel that the appeals procedure has not been administered correctly you can contact us through the comments/complaints process at https://www.eani.org.uk/contact/comments-suggestions-and-complaints

Until you receive formal notification from the Authority regarding the outcome of an appeal all transport arrangements for your child/children remain a parental responsibility.

C. Distance

The qualifying distance to primary schools is 2 miles and 3 miles for post primary schools.  

We use a GIS system to accurately measure distances. Appeals on these grounds if you made a formal application and our system determined that you live at least 1.9 miles from your nearest suitable primary school or 2.9 miles from your nearest suitable post primary school.

We do not accept measurements from other mapping systems e.g. Google Maps, Bing Maps, AA Route Finder or vehicle odometers. The Authority will only therefore recalculate distance on the basis that your home is plotted incorrectly on the map.

Timeframe

The Authority will endeavour to provide a written update on the outcome of your appeal within 20 working days.

If the Appeal is refused, there is no further right of Appeal to the Education Authority. 

If you feel that the appeals procedure has not been administered correctly you can contact us through the comments/complaints process at https://www.eani.org.uk/contact/comments-suggestions-and-complaints

Until you receive formal notification from the Authority regarding the outcome of an appeal all transport arrangements for your child/children remain a parental responsibility.

D. Exceptional Circumstances

The requirements for the Education Authority to provide transport assistance are set out in the Department of Education’s Circular 1996/41 – School Transport

Paragraph 8 of the above Circular recognises that transport assistance can be provided in cases which it considers to be exceptional.  

It is not possible to provide an exhaustive list of those circumstances that are considered  exceptional; however, grounds such as enforced relocation, severe mental health concerns or persistent/serious bullying by a fellow passenger would be considered. The domestic or working arrangements of a family cannot be considered.

When making an application parents must provide sufficient written evidence that demonstrates the exceptional nature of the case. Each application is considered upon its individual merits and the Education Authority reserves the right to request additional information and/or to conduct further investigations or inquiries.

Parents are encouraged to read this guidance prior to submitting an exceptional circumstances appeal, Appendix A- examples of exceptional circumstances guidelines.

Timeframes

The Exceptional Circumstances Panel convenes on a monthly basis to consider all applications and deliver a decision as quickly as possible.  Insufficient information at the time of submission will delay consideration of your appeal.

A written outcome will normally be sent to you within 10 working days of the Panel.

A copy of the full policy guidelines and appeal process can be located here.

Please note that if upheld the EA is not required to make special provision over and above existing transport policy where this would result in unreasonable expenditure of public funds.

If the Appeal is refused, there is no further right of Appeal to the Education Authority. 

If you feel that the appeals procedure has not been administered correctly you can contact us through the comments/complaints process at https://www.eani.org.uk/contact/comments-suggestions-and-complaints

Until you receive formal notification from the Authority regarding the outcome of an appeal all transport arrangements for your child/children remain a parental responsibility.

Do you know that your choice and order of preferences could impact on your child’s eligibility for transport assistance?

Last updated: 18/06/2020