Trying to figure out how to transport your child to and from a new school can cause some problems.  Some students are entitled to School Transport help.So here’s another thing you potentially have to worry about as a parent, how is my child going to get to and from school. For some it’s easy, they can walk, bike or be dropped of and picked up each day. It’s not that cut and dry for everyone though. Here’s some info about school transport for those of you who do need to consider how to get your school kids to and fro.

The overall aim of the Ministry of Education’s (MOE) school transport policy is to:

“… provide assistance to students who, because of the geographic location of their home or their special needs, do not have ready access to transport to and from their nearest school.”

Who’s responsibility is it that a child gets to school?

Not a clear cut question!

The MOE’s school transport policy makes it clear that there is a shared responsibility between the State (The Ministry) and the parent/caregiver for making sure that school age children make it to school.

It works like this. It is the responsibility of the parent/caregiver to ensure their children attend school while it is compulsory for them to do so and it is the responsibility of the State to help students get to school where physical location or special needs mean that there is not other alternative available.

So this tells us that there is a need to qualify for assistance where school transport is concerned.

Who is eligible for school transport assistance?

There are several criteria a student has to meet before they can be eligible for school transport assistance in NZ

  • Age and distance criteria
  • Availability of public transport services
  • Nearest appropriate school
  • Maori Medium school (See below)
  • Further categories of ineligibility

Age and distance criteria

To meet the age and distance criteria a student needs to live further than a certain distance from the nearest appropriate school (see more below). The distance is measured over the shortest public road or pedestrian route from the roadside of the home to the gate of the nearest appropriate school. (It doesn’t matter if the nearest appropriate school is not the one the student attends).

The distances are –

  • More than 3.2 kms for students under 10 years old
  • More than 4.8 kms for students 10 years or older.

Availability of public transport services

If there is suitable public transport the student could use then he or she is not eligible for school transport assistance. Public transport is deemed suitable if

  • It travels within 2.4kms of the students home and
  • Travels within 2.4 kms of the nearest appropriate school and
  • Has a suitable timetable and
  • Doesn’t require the student to change buses more than once on a journey.

Nearest appropriate school

The point of transport assistance is that it helps a student reach the nearest school which is usually.

  • The school nearest the students home or
  • The Maori Medium School (see below) closest to the students home if the parent/caregiver has chosen for their child to attend a Maori Medium School,
  • The same special character school with which the parent/caregiver identifies.

A school is not suitable if

  • It is a single sex school for the opposite gender to the student
  • It is the wrong year level for the student
  • It is a special character school with which the parent/caregiver doesn’t identify
  • It is a private school or
  • Has an enrolment scheme that excludes the student

Further categories of ineligibility

There are some further reasons why your child may not be eligible for school transport assistance. These are

  • If the student is not aged 5 or over,
  • If the students home or normal place of residence is not New Zealand (this includes fee paying students but is not relevant to foreign exchange students)
  • If the student attends a Private school or is home-schooled or is a correspondence school student
  • If the student has been excluded or suspended.

Who can I contact about school transport?

There are several avenues you can go down to gain more information about school transport assistance.

Most schools will have an appointed Bus Controller. This person is normally a member of staff whose job it is to coordinate and deal with all bus affairs from the schools perspective. When contacting the school about a bus issue, ask to speak with either the Bus Controller or failing that the Principal.

The school should be your first port of call for information, queries, complaints and so on.

The Ministry of Education website has a series of very helpful information sheets where all sorts of transport enquiries are concerned. To view these click through to this link .


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This information was compiled by the Kiwi Families team.

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Hi, I have a four year old daughter due to start school in March, an 18 month old daughter and am due to have twins in April. Needless to say our house is going to be quite busy. We live rurally (approx. 40km from the nearest school) the school bus currently travels 20km towards us so we have to travel he extra 20km to meet it. This means that we will be travelling around 80km a day to take her to and from the school bus. This is going to be a huge cost to us for transport and are… Read more »


How did you get on with this issue? as I’m in a similar boat!

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