Reasonable journey time to and from school

What is a reasonable journey time to and from school?

In Ealing we consider 45 minutes a maximum reasonable journey time for a primary school child.

However, whether the child is in primary or high school, the circumstances of the family, the difficulty of the journey and the age of the child/ren should be considered. We would advise that you should be confident in justifying your decision should it ever be questioned during an audit, i.e., it is only a 25-minute journey but requires a bus and a train and the parent has difficulty with mobility. If you are unsure, or it is a child approaching their exams (years 10 and 11), it is best to check with your Link Attendance Officer or the CME Officer.

When should the child be referred to CME?

Most cases will need to be dealt with as attendance issues. However, there are a few occasions where the child either is or becomes CME and you should begin the CME process:

  • If the parent has confirmed the child is leaving the school but the child does not yet have a new school, or you cannot confirm an application has been submitted to their new Local Authority and they have not attended for three consecutive school days
  • If the child has not attended on a day they were expected to, you have not seen them since this date and you still cannot contact the family for two school days after the absence
  • If the parent has not filled in a leaver’s form or provided you with destination address/school information in any other format, the child has not attended for three school days they were expected to attend, and you cannot contact the family

Does the parent want their child to stay at your school?

No, the parent doesn't want the child to remain in school

Then the child will eventually be a leaver. The parent must fill in a leaver’s form and submit an application to their new Local Authority where possible or to local schools if it is not. This website is useful for confirming the correct Local Authority.

If the child has moved too far to continue attending your school and you can obtain confirmation that an application for the child has been submitted to their new Local Authority (either from the new LA’s School Admissions team or a confirmation of receipt of application email from the new LA forwarded to you by the parent), then you can remove the child from roll immediately. Please send the parent a letter confirming the child has now been removed from roll.

Remember to ensure their files are ready to send on to their new school once they have one, and in the meantime, send their CTF to the Lost Pupil Database.

If the parent cannot apply to their new Local Authority and can only apply to local schools directly, Ealing ask that you keep the child on roll until they have either been admitted to a new school or they have been absent for ten school days. If the parent has filled in a leaver’s form and the child does not have a new school ten days after their last date of attendance you must refer them to CME.

Yes, parent wants child to remain in school

If the parent has stated that they want their child to remain at your school, you cannot remove them from roll. If attendance or punctuality is problematic, the situation must be dealt with as an attendance issue and the school must decide how to manage it.

How to manage this as an attendance issue

Managing an attendance or punctuality issue should include an assessment to identify the barriers; suggested tools for this are an Early Help and Assessment plan (link to EHAP) or and Attendance Contract (link). You should also seek advice and support from your Link Attendance Officer.

Unauthorised absence can escalate to prosecution. In all instances, support and reasonable adjustments where necessary, must be offered before a case is escalated to a fine or other legal action. Schools can also signpost families to services that may be of help (see links below).

Please bear in mind that reduced timetables and distance learning are not long-term solutions and should only be used as short-term fixes to temporary situations. They require regular review in order to make sure the support measures remain effective. Please also remember that the school is still responsible for safeguarding any child on your roll, including those receiving distance learning. This means regular contact should take place. We would advise that school staff see or speak to the child and the parent they are living with at least once per week. Please also ensure that the school is in regular contact with the child’s social worker if they have one.


If support is offered but not engaged with, you can start an escalation process while continuing to offer support. Each school will have their own escalation system but this flowchart is a guide as to when it is appropriate to involve your Link Attendance Officer. Please see the Attendance Toolkit on EGFL for other useful documents and guidance.

Financial and other support for families

Citizens Advice Bureau

Food Banks, Food Distribution Services & Food Bank Collections | Ealing Directory (

Free School Meals | Ealing Directory (

Debt / money management

Ealing Council website

Family Grants

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Last updated: 31 Aug 2023

Services for children