School Transport - General Information


The Council provides free transport to all pupils who live more than the statutory walking distance from their designated school, which is two miles for pupils less than 8 years old and three miles for pupils aged 8 and over. In Orkney, this reduces to 1.5 miles for all pupils during the winter terms (October break to Easter break). These distances are measured by the shortest available safe walking route.

Local Authorities are not required to provide ‘door to door’ transport. Transport is usually provided as close to home as practical, however parents can be expected to walk/transport their child up to the qualifying distance in order to reach the pick-up/drop-off point. Entitlement to school transport is reviewed on an annual basis.

The Council does not provide transport for pupils attending nursery or pre-school.

Catchment Areas

Transport is only provided to the school for the catchment area where you live. If you elect to place your child in a school within a different catchment area, the Council will not provide transport.

Further details on the school catchment areas can be accessed from the 'Related Links' section of this page.

Pupil Pick-Up/Drop-Off Points

When applying for school transport, the address provided on the school transport application form is the only address taken account of for transport purposes. Suitable pick-up/drop-off points close to that address will be agreed with the Council’s Education Transport Officer. As stated above, transport is not provided door to door.

The Council will endeavour to assess new pick-up/drop-off points to ensure that potential dangers are identified and solutions are found to keep risks to a minimum. If required, advice may be sought from Road Officers/the Police. Any risk assessment carried out on a pick-up/drop-off point is made on the assumption that pupils will be accompanied by a responsible adult from their home to and from the pick-up/drop-off point.

Parents/carers are responsible for their child’s journey to and from school, or where transport is provided, between home and the pick-up and drop-off point.

Parents/carers should note that drivers are not required to help children cross roads and parents/carers should advise their children accordingly. You are responsible for advising your child in road safety.

Seat Belts

All school transport vehicles are fitted with seat belts. Provision of free school transport can be withdrawn where a pupil does not wear a seat belt.

Parental Responsibility

Parents/carers are ultimately responsible for the proper and safe behaviour of their child when getting on, whilst travelling and getting off the transport provided. They are also responsible between home and the pick-up and drop-off point, immediately prior to boarding school transport each morning and again following the afternoon journey.

It is advisable that parents/carers wait at their children’s drop-off point and accompany them across the road if necessary as parents/carers are responsible for their children’s safety after they have left the school transport vehicle.

Never take a signal from any driver to cross - they may not be able to see if the road is clear in both directions.

Parents/carers are also reminded that they are ultimately responsible for the behaviour of their child when travelling on school transport. Parents/carers have a duty to read through the Code of Conduct with their children and explain its importance and consequences for not adhering to it.

Make sure your child is aware of what to do if the transport is late or does not arrive, or if they fail to catch the transport for any reason.

Pupils should wear (or carry) something bright or hi viz and dress warmly in case there is an unexpected delay.

Behaviour on all modes of School Transport

Pupils should understand and adhere to the Code of Conduct and full details are provided in PDF format within the 'Related Downloads' section of this page. Persistent misbehaviour may result in withdrawal of school transport entitlement. Parents/carers may be held responsible for any damage to school vehicles caused by their children and financially liable for any subsequent and necessary repairs.

Pupils who travel on other modes of transport (e.g. ferry, plane or taxi) who misbehave, cause damage or injury may, at the Council’s discretion, have their entitlement to school transport withdrawn.

Orkney Ferries staff and other operators can report instances of anti-social behaviour by pupils on the journey to Education, Leisure and Housing.

Nominated Passengers

Nominated places may be allocated by the Council to pupils who do not qualify for transport but live on an established bus route where the bus serving the route has available empty seats. The Council reserves the right to withdraw transport if the seat is required for a pupil travelling to their entitled school. Under such circumstances parents/carers will be provided with ten working days written notice to make alternative transport arrangements.

If the number of requests for nominated places exceeds the number of vacant seats available the Council must select which of those pupils will be given nominated places. This will normally result in removing pupils residing closest to the school first.

If the number of entitled pupils in any area becomes such that it may be more practical and cost effective to provide transport in smaller vehicles nominated pupils may have this provision withdrawn with ten days’ notice.

Nominated passengers may also be asked to relinquish their place on school transport at any time if it is deemed necessary for any other reason at the Council’s sole discretion.

Medical Issues

In exceptional circumstances, home to school transport may be provided on medical grounds, to enable pupils to attend their designated catchment school even though they may live within the statutory qualifying distance from the school. An application should be made if a pupil who is attending their correct catchment school is unable to walk to school due to a medical reason. Supporting written medical evidence must be obtained from a GP or hospital to confirm that the pupil is unable to walk to school and the likely period of incapacity. Please note: Medical grounds do not mean automatic entitlement. Any entitlement will be reviewed on an annual basis.

Additional Support Needs

Any child with additional support needs would be individually assessed by a member of the Support for Learners Team and, where appropriate, arrangements will be made to ensure the child is transported suitably and safely.

School Transport Policy

A copy of the Council’s School Transport Policy is available in PDF format from the 'Related Downloads' section of this page.

Application Form

If you would like to apply for school transport, an application form can be downloaded from the 'Related Downloads' section of this page.

Completed forms should be returned to your child’s school, or to the School Transport section within Education, Leisure and Housing.


The Council requires up to three working days to organise and arrange transport for a new pupil between home and school, or implement a change of address which may also mean a change of bus route. If there are capacity issues on the route then it may take longer to allocate spaces as nominated passengers are entitled to ten working days’ notice to make alternative arrangements.

Further Information

Further details of various aspects of school transport provision, including the School Transport Policy, newsletters and advice to and the responsibilities of parents/carers are available in the 'Related Downloads' section of this page.

If you have any queries or require further information, please contact:

School Transport, Education, Leisure and Housing, Orkney Islands Council, School Place, Kirkwall, KW15 1NY.

Telephone: 01856873535 extension 2427.

Email: Education and Leisure.

Related Links

School Place, Kirkwall, Orkney, KW15 1NY

Telephone: 01856 873535


Orkney Islands Council: BOREAS DOMUS MARE AMICUS