The House of Commons Transport Committee has announced that it will conduct an inquiry into School Travel.

The Education and Inspections Act 2006 altered long-standing provisions for school travel by:

€ placing a general duty on local education authorities to assess the travel and transport needs of pupils and to promote sustainable school travel;

€ extending the entitlement to free school transport for low income families; and

€ enabling local authorities to propose pathfinder schemes to test innovative approaches to school transport to support school choice and decrease the proportion of pupils travelling by car.

In May 2007, the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) published Home to School Travel and Transport Guidance, which covers local authority duties and powers relating to sustainable school travel and the provision of school transport. Separate guidance for potential pathfinder authorities was also issued.

The new provisions of the Act are being implemented to different timetables:

€ £4 million per annum became available in April 2007 to enable local authorities to carry out their duties to assess the travel and transport needs of pupils and to promote sustainable school travel;

€ the DfES anticipated that extended entitlements to free transport would be implemented for primary school pupils aged eight or over by September 2007 and for secondary aged pupils by September 2008; and

€ the deadline for applications to undertake pathfinder schemes was December 2007, although it was expected that schemes would not commence until September 2008 at the earliest.

The Transport Committee will examine progress to date in implementing these changes and their likely transport-related effects. We would particularly welcome responses to the following questions:

€ What progress has been made by local authorities in carrying out their duties to assess the travel and transport needs of pupils and to promote sustainable travel? How effective can school travel plans be? Are they adequately linked with other transport initiatives? Are benefits successfully maintained?

€ Are appropriate arrangements in place to accommodate extended entitlements to free school transport?

€ What is the status of applications to undertake pathfinder schemes? What is the nature of the proposals? Will any of the pathfinder schemes be able to demonstrate effective integration of school transport with the general public transport network?

€ Is the general public transport network suitable for pupils who do not use dedicated school transport? Are Local Transport Plans appropriate in relation to home to school journeys?

€ Will the new provisions reduce car use and congestion on the home to school journey? Will they prove to be affordable and cost effective?

€ How successful are existing innovative school transport schemes, such as those utilising dedicated "yellow buses"?

€ Are education, transport and health authorities working in sufficiently joined-up ways in relation to school travel, nationally and locally?

Interested parties are invited to submit written evidence by Monday 21 April 2008 A programme of oral evidence will be announced in due course.

Guidance on submitting written evidence

It assists the Committee if those submitting written evidence adhere to the following guidelines:

1. Submissions should be as short as is consistent with conveying the relevant information. As a rough guide, it is usually helpful if they can be confined to 3000 words or less. Paragraphs should be numbered for ease of reference. A single-page summary of the main points is sometimes helpful. The submission should be in a form suitable for monochrome photocopying.

2. Evidence should be submitted in Word or Rich Text format using plain A4 format (ie not in company letter-head template format), attached to an e-mail sent to [email protected] The body of the covering e-mail should include a contact name, telephone number and postal address. It should be absolutely clear who the submission is from, particularly whether it is on behalf of an organisation or in the name of an individual.

3. Once accepted by the Committee, written evidence becomes the Committee's property and it may decide to publish it or make other public use of it. You should not publish evidence submitted to the Committee. If you wish your submission, or any part of it, to be treated as confidential, then please indicate this clearly when you submit it.

4. Though the Committee is happy to receive copies of published material, formal submissions of evidence should be original work and not published elsewhere.

5. Committee staff are happy to give further advice on any aspect of the Committee's work by phone or e-mail.

More detailed guidance on giving evidence to a select committee is available on-line at:

SCA 23/2007-08 12 March 2008