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Part Time Timetables - Frequently Asked Questions

The Bedford Borough Parent Carer Forum have collated the most frequently asked questions in regards to the use of part time tables.

The below answers have been provided by Bedford Borough Children’s Services, Inclusion Support Team in co-production with the Bedford Borough Parent Carer Forum. This information was correct as of 8th February 2023.

If your child or young person is on a Part Time Timetable, the school should notify the Local Authority using an eForm. Parent Carers or other practitioners are also able to complete this eForm:

To complete the eForm and notify the Local Authority of a child on a Part Time Timetable then click here

What is a part time timetable?

A timetable is considered part time or reduced when the total hours provided for your child are less than those provided to the majority of their peers in school.

Whilst there is no legal definition of full-time, the following Local Government Ombudsman definition of the number of teaching hours that constitutes full-time education is widely accepted:

  • Key stage 1: 21 hours
  • Key Stage 2: 23.5 hours
  • Key Stage 3 & Year 10: 24 hours
  • Year 11: 25 hours

(source Out of school…out of mind (LGO. 2011))

What does the law say?

  • All children of compulsory school age have a right to receive full-time education
  • Every school has a legal responsibility to provide full-time education for all of its pupils
  • Parents/carers must ensure that their children of compulsory school age, who are registered at school, attend regularly
  • Local authorities have a duty to ensure that children receive a full-time education

The 2022 Department for Education “Working together to improve school attendance Guidance for maintained schools, academies, independent schools, and local authorities” states that all pupils of compulsory school age are entitled to a full-time education but acknowledges that, in very exceptional circumstances, there may be a need for a temporary part-time timetable to meet a pupil’s individual needs.

Where a part time timetable is agreed the following should apply:-

  • As a parent you must agree;
  • They can only be used for a limited period of time (normally no more than half a term);
  • The time in school should be increased over the time frame;
  • The reduced timetable should not in  itself be a strategy, but should rather enable other strategies to be effective;

When should a part-time timetable be used?

The use of a reduced timetable for your child should be an exceptional measure, but may be considered appropriate and in the best interests of an individual child in the following circumstances:

  • As part of a planned reintegration approach for children who have not attended school for a period of time due to illness, disability, mental health issues, family circumstances, post-exclusion etc.
  • As part of an in-school support package. School, parent/carer and other professionals agree that a short-term reduced timetable would support a child who has become disaffected to regain success
  • For medical reasons when a child has a serious medical condition where recovery is the priority outcome

How long should a part-time table last?

A reduced timetable must not be treated as a long-term solution and can only be used for a limited period of time (normally no more than half a term).

If your child has been on a reduced timetable for a long time and you are unhappy with this arrangement, we would recommend that you ask for a meeting with your child’s school to discuss:

  • Your child’s academic and developmental progress;
  • Whether the reduced timetable is actually meeting its objectives;
  • Your wish for your child to return to school on a full-time basis, or, on increased hours and how this can be achieved.

Collaborative discussions such as these are really important because you can update the school on how your child presents at home and the school will be able to update you on how your child presents in school.

What do schools have to do to implement a part-time timetable?

  • They must seek your agreement before your child attends on a reduced timetable
  • They must provide appropriate work for your child to complete at home
  • They must involve you in their regular reviews of the arrangement and seek your agreement at each stage
  • They should ensure that clearly defined objectives are in place, a specified end date, a review process and the consent of parents/carers

What are my responsibilities as a parent/carer?

You are responsible for:

  • Ensuring the safety and well-being of your child during the times they are not in school
  • Ensuring that work set by the school is completed and returned
  • Supporting your child and the school to address issues, working towards full-time provision

What if my child has an Education, Health & Care Plan?

If a school is considering reducing the timetable, suspending or excluding your child and they have an EHCP the SEND Officer must be consulted and invited to an early annual review. The SEND Officer will expect to see a clear benefit to your child and a carefully planned transition to a full time timetable.

What if I am not happy with the reduced timetable?

If you do not believe that a reduced timetable will support your child we would recommend that you ask your child’s school:

  • To outline their reasons for proposing this strategy;
  • To outline what difficulties your child has that prevents the school from allowing your child to stay for the whole day along with their peers;
  • What measures\strategies are in place, or have been tried, to support your child;
  • What plans are in place to ensure that your child’s needs are being met and are they being adhered to.
  • Whether they are proposing to reduce your child’s timetable for a set length of time or indefinitely;
  • If there is a plan in place to increase the hours and have a phased return to a full day and what the triggers for these increases will be;
  • Whether your child be in school with their own class and teacher during the sessions in school;
  • What support you can provide to help your child return to full-time provision;
  • Whether an early annual review is needed if your child has an EHCP;
  • If your child does not have an EHCP whether a statutory assessment of your child’s needs is required;
  • Whether a reduced timetable will impact on public examinations, either linked to actually sitting the exam or completing the coursework or curriculum needed to be successful.

If you refuse to agree to implementation, a full-time timetable should remain in place. In these circumstances, you should work with the school to explore other options and any professionals or agencies involved should be consulted.

Should a part time timetable be used to reduce the risk of a permanent exclusion?

School, parent/carer and other professionals may agree that a short-term reduced timetable would support a child.

However, If you feel pressured into moving to a reduced timetable, electively home educating, or keeping your child at home until an alternative school is found or that the suspension or permanent exclusion procedures have not been followed you should follow the school’s complaints procedure.

Guidance/Further Information

Guidance/Further Information


The Bedford SENDIASS

Free impartial and confidential service to parents and carers of children who have special educational needs and or a disability (SEND)

SENDIASS Service | Bedford Local Offer

School Exclusions – DfE

For information on suspensions and exclusions

School Attendance – DfE

For further details on school attendance and part-time timetables

Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO)

Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) | Bedford Borough Council