At present students who live within the catchment area of The Willink but who live greater than three miles from the school can apply for transport from West Berkshire County Council or Hampshire County Council (dependent on the home address):
Some students living fewer than three miles from school may be eligible for transport due to other circumstances. Fare paying seats may be available on these routes for students who are not entitled to free transport. The relevant local authority will be able to advise you about whether you are eligible.
We advise parents and carers to apply for transport as soon as possible.
Once your application for free transport is approved by West Berkshire, the bus pass plus details of pick up place and time will be sent to your home, not the school. More precise details will be made available later this term by the transport company including ‘pick-up’ points, times and costs.
Below you will find information about school transport options:
School Transport Information for Families for 2023-24 : Information from West Berkshire CouncilMost school transport is arranged by West Berkshire Council. Here is a quick guide to how transport works. Please feel free to contact the School Transport Department at West Berkshire Council with any queries.
Will transport be provided automatically?
No. It's up to parents to apply for transport at www.westberks.gov.uk/school-transport. Applying for a school place and applying for transport are two separate things.
Who is entitled to free school transport?
You can apply for free transport at the website above. Your application will be assessed to determine whether you qualify for free transport. If you live in West Berkshire and The Downs is your nearest school and the distance is over 3 miles, you will be entitled to free transport. You may still qualify even if the distance is under 3 miles, if the council deem the route is unsafe to walk.
We recommend applying early, so you can be certain whether you qualify for free transport and have time to sort out any problems. If you are applying for September 2023, you can do this from March 2023. Feel free to get in touch before then by email firstname.lastname@example.org if you're not sure whether you'll qualify.
You can find detailed information about how we determine eligibility in the Home to School Transport Policy, which is on West Berkshire’s website. If in doubt, please get in touch on the numbers above.
If you're awarded free transport, this also means that your place is guaranteed. We will try to allocate you to the closest bus route/stop. Late applicants may need to be allocated to a different bus route, if the closest one is full. Please be aware that free transport automatically stops at the end of Year 11 (GCSE year).
What is my nearest school?
You can find out by going to www.westberks.gov.uk and putting your postcode into the search box on the home page. Then you can view information about your address, including the closest school (this will include schools outside of West Berkshire).
What if I change address later on?
If you change address, this may affect whether you still qualify for free transport or not. You will be reassessed from the new address and in accordance with the current policy at the time, so it's possible that you would no longer qualify and have to start paying. There may not be a bus from your new address, or the bus may be full. To avoid disappointment, please check with us before committing to a house.
How does the Farepayer Scheme work?
If you don't qualify for free transport, or you apply for free transport and are rejected, you can apply for a seat under the Farepayer Scheme instead.
To apply, go to www.westberks.gov.uk/school-transport and complete the Farepaying form. If you're applying for September 2023 you can apply from 17th April and the deadline will be 16th June. Late applications received after 16th June will be placed in a random draw.
The Farepayer Scheme Guide for 2022/23 is available to view on West Berkshire’s website via http://info.westberks.gov.uk/farepayingschooltransport. The guide for 2023/24 hasn’t yet been finalised.
The cost for the 2022/23 school year is £840 per student. The cost for 2023/24 hasn’t been announced yet.
How do I pay for the Farepayer Scheme?
We would invoice you before term starts and would need a first payment before transport could begin. Instalment plans are available – please discuss with West Berkshire Council when you receive the invoice.
What if my child goes into Sixth Form?
Free transport stops at the end of Year 11, so for Sixth Form you would need to apply for transport via the Farepayer Scheme, and pay the standard fee. Transport will not carry on automatically from Year 11 into Sixth Form. We will give out reminders, but it will be the parent’s responsibility to apply. You could ask The Downs School whether you qualify for any financial help from their bursary fund for Sixth Formers.
How can I find out where the bus routes go?
Please contact 01635 503494 or email@example.com so that we can advise the closest bus routes to your address. Most of the bus routes, including all of the free ones, are run by the council. We can also advise about private bus routes. These ones aren’t run by the council so it would then be up to you to contact the bus company directly. Be aware that they will set their own prices and will have a limited number of seats.
Do I need to reapply every year?
If you use the Farepayer Scheme for your transport, you will need to reapply every year. If we don't hear from you one year, transport will stop. We'll send out reminders in April each year and will ask school to do the same.
If you receive free transport, this will normally carry on automatically until the end of Year 11, if you stay at the same address. Please check with us if you want to move, as this may affect whether your free transport could carry on or not. If you qualify for free transport due to low income, this will need to be reassessed every year, in case your income changes. If you won free transport at an appeal, this may need to be reassessed every year. This will vary depending on your individual case and should be made clear to you in the appeal decision.
Where can I find more information about free transport?
Where can I find more information about the Farepayer Scheme?
Table of Transport Options available:
Reading buses offer services from central Reading to Mortimer and can be contacted on 0118 959 4000. Parents and carers should be alert to any timetable changes or route diversions.
Cycling to School & Bicycle Storage
We encourage students to live active lifestyles where possible. For students who wish to cycle to school, and can do so safely, we have a secure bicycle shed for students to use. Helmets and smaller items can be stored in secure lockers – students can purchase a padlock key from the school via the school financial payment system.
Students wishing to cycle to and from school are requested, along with their parents/carers, to read and sign our ‘Cycling to School Contract’ which aims to promote safe cycling. This can be found below - please download and sign the contract form. Signed copies should be handed in to the school office:
The Willink promotes Level 3 BikeAbility provided by West Berkshire (typically during October half-term break). This equips cyclists with the skills, knowledge and confidence to use more challenging roads and manage traffic situations. For more information email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Last Updated May 2023.