School transport for children with special needs
The Department of Education and Skills provides school transport services for children with special educational needs. Bus Éireann (the State public transport operator) operates the school transport service on behalf of the Department. The school transport service may not be available in all areas. Where the transport cannot be provided, you may be eligible for a Special Transport Grant to help with the cost of making private transport arrangements.
The School Transport Scheme applies to children with a special educational needs recognised by the Department of Education and Skills. The child must be attending the nearest recognised mainstream school or special class/special school or a unit resourced to meet their special educational needs.
- If the Department is not in a position to provide a transport service due to excessive cost
- Where the maximum level of grant offered does not cover the assessed cost of the journey involved.
The Special Educational Needs Organiser (SENO) can make an application to the Department to employ an escort to accompany a child, if the child’s care and safety needs require that support.
Special class arrangements
Transport services for children with special needs are only provided for the period of enrolment in a special class. If the child returns to mainstream classes, special transport arrangements will not be provided.
Eligible children who are enrolled in an autism class/unit attached to a mainstream school and who subsequently mainstream in that school will retain their transport eligibility for the duration of their primary education in this school. However, a new application must be made if they transfer to a new school.
Eligible children are exempt from school transport charges.
A Special Transport Grant towards the cost of private transport arrangements may be provided at the discretion of the Department in certain situations.
Special Transport Grant rates are as follows:
|Kilometers (km)||Rate per km|
|Up to 6437||39.12 cent|
|Over 6437||21.22 cent|
How to apply
You should apply to the school principal who will contact the school’s Special Educational Needs Organiser (SENO) in relation to applying for special transport. If the SENO is satisfied that your child is enrolled in the nearest suitable school, and that school transport is required, a recommendation will be sent to the School Transport Section of the Department of Education and Skills.
Applications for Special Transport Grant may also be forwarded to the School Transport Section through the SENO, prior to the child’s enrolment in school. If grant aid is sanctioned, applications for payment of the grant should include a completed Statement of Attendance form. Applications may be made at the end of the school year by the parent or guardian of the child to the School Transport Section.
How to apply during the COVID-19 public health emergency
All schools closed on 12 March 2020 due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. The Government Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business (pdf) includes the phased opening of schools and colleges in the new academic year 2020-2021.
During the COVID-19 public health emergency, you can apply for a Special Transport Grant either through your child’s school or directly to the School Transport Section in the Department of Education and Skills.
Applying through your school
Fill in the application form for the Special Transport Grant and email it to your child’s school. Your child’s school will complete the application and forward it to the relevant SENO.
You can find out more about how to make your grant application (pdf).
Applying directly to the Department of Education and Skills
If you can’t download the application form for the Special Transport Grant, you can email or phone the School Transport Section in the Department of Education and Skills and they will fill in the form for you.
You will need to provide information about your child such as their PPS number, type of disability, the school setting they will be in and start date. You can find a complete list of information the Department needs for your application.
The School Transport Section will email your application to your child’s school and SENO to complete the relevant sections. Your application will be assessed by the School Transport Section once it has been completed by the school and SENO.
You can contact the School Transport Section in the Department of Education and Skills by email email@example.com or by phone on 087 410 7037.