The LA’s duty in respect of ‘adult learners’ is covered by section 508F of the Education Act (“EA”) 1996. ‘Adult learners’ will be young people over sixth form age – those who are 19 and up (if they started a course of further education before their 19th birthday, they remain of sixth form age until they complete that course).

When considering adult learners, the LA must make “such arrangements for the provision of transport, as they consider necessary” and must do so for two purposes. The first purpose is to facilitate the attendance of adults receiving education at institutions:

  • maintained or assisted by the authority and providing further or higher education (or both), or
  • within the further education sector.

Any transport arrangements provided under this duty must be free of charge.

LAs have duties under section 508G EA 1996 to consult with further education colleges and others about the fulfilment of their duties towards adult learners, and they must publish a policy on how they will do so.

The first place to look, when looking for information about post-16 home to school/college transport arrangements, is likely to be the LA’s ‘Transport Policy Statement’ on post-16 transport, and this policy should also address travel arrangements for those who are ‘adult learners’.

If an adult learner has an EHC plan, then this could well strengthen the argument that travel arrangements are ‘necessary’. The LA has a duty to secure the special educational provision specified within the EHC plan and will have real difficulty doing so if the young person can’t get to college to access that provision.

Even if they do not consider it ‘necessary’, the LA has a discretion to pay some or all of the reasonable costs of transport if no other arrangement has been arranged (section 508F(8) EA 1996) and they must exercise their judgement “judiciously and in good faith" (see the case of Staffordshire County Council v JM (SEN) [2016] UKUT 246 (AAC)).

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