Publication - Advice and guidance

School transport guidance 2021

Published: 2 Sep 2021
Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills
Learning Directorate
Part of:
Education, Transport

This document updates the guidance to local authorities about the provision of school transport and replaces the School Transport Guidance Circular issued in 2003 (Circular No 7/2003 ).

School transport guidance 2021
Section 1 - Duties on parents and local authorities

Section 1 - Duties on parents and local authorities

1.1 - Duties on parents

6. Section 30 of the Education (Scotland) Act 1980[5] ("the 1980 Act") places a duty on parents to provide an efficient education for their child, suitable to the child's age, ability and aptitude, either by sending him/her to a public school or by other means.

7. The majority of parents send their children to a school managed by their local authority and identified by the authority as their catchment school.

8. Parents remain responsible for their child's journey to and from school or, where the authority is providing school transport (either through a dedicated service or local bus service), between home and the designated pick-up/drop-off point.

1.2 - Duties on local authorities

9. Section 51 of the 1980 Act[6] requires local authorities to make such arrangements as they consider necessary for the provision of school transport for pupils residing, and attending schools, in their area. Local authorities have a wide level of discretion in this regard and the arrangements they establish can include the provision of free school transport for some or all of the journey, making bicycles or other suitable means of transport available to pupils on such terms and conditions as they may arrange (or for paying allowances in lieu), and paying some or all of travelling costs.

10. When considering whether to make arrangements for the provision of school transport, local authorities are further required to have regard to the safety of the pupil, as well as to ensure that access to transport which meets the child's needs is provided. This may mean an alternative vehicle, such as a minibus or taxi, however there is no requirement to alter vehicles such as school buses to meet a person's needs.

1.3 - Seat belt legislation

11. The Seat Belts on School Transport (Scotland) Act 2017[7] came into force on 1 August 2018. The purpose of the Act is to improve road safety for school children by imposing a duty upon school authorities[8] to ensure that each motor vehicle which the authority provides, or arranges to be provided, for a dedicated school transport service has a seat belt fitted to each passenger seat, i.e. one seat belt per pupil.

12. The Act imposes a duty on Scottish Ministers to publish national guidance[9] which promotes best practice for seat belt wearing and monitoring. In addition, this guidance gives school authorities and other interested parties technical explanations in relation to seat belt fitting. This guidance was issued in June 2018.

13. The Act does not affect the law on the wearing of seat belts on school transport, which remains a matter of law reserved to the UK Government. The law which covers when persons must wear seat belts is currently contained in the Motor Vehicles (Wearing of Seat Belts) Regulations 1993 (S.I. 1993/176)[10]. Local authorities have general duties of care for pupils using school transport under both statute law[11] and common law, and there are a range of legal duties on a driver of any vehicle. Children under the age of 14 are currently not legally responsible for the wearing of a seat belt where one is provided. Road Safety Officers, Road Safety Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Police Scotland, schools, local authorities and parents can reinforce the importance of seat belt wearing