Understanding the basics 5: What does the law say about part-time education?

iStock_000017392438MediumWe sometimes hear from parents whose children are not attending school full-time and who want to know what their child’s rights are to full-time education.

Here’s some information that parents find useful when discussing full and part-time education with their school or local authority:

  • A child has the right to an education that meets his or her needs. The local authority has a “duty to secure adequate and efficient provision of school education” (Education (Scotland) Act 1980).
  • The right to full time education is not defined anywhere in law but it is implied in the Standards in Scotland’s Schools etc. Act 2000  that education means full-time education. It states that it is the duty of the authority to secure that “the education is directed to the development of the personality, talents and mental and physical abilities of the child or young person to their fullest potential.”
  • The Education (Scotland) Act 1980 states that “Pupils are to be educated as far as is reasonable in accordance with wishes of their parents.” Whilst there are some families we talk to who are trying to arrange part-time education for their children, more often than not families are keen that their children attend school full-time.

handsSchools or local authorities may suggest that a pupil attends school part-time for a short period of time. This may be to allow them to recover from an illness, or could be a short-term solution until more suitable provision or support can be arranged. It could also be part of a planned phased return to school. However part-time education should be seen as a short-term solution. It should take place with parents full agreement. Schools should not provide a part-time timetable as a way of managing a pupil’s additional support needs. 

If your child has been on a part-time timetable for some time or you are unhappy with this arrangement, you should contact the school to discuss how it can help your child back to full-time education. As part of these discussions it can be helpful to discuss a child’s learning plan to consider what their immediate needs are to support them back to school full-time and what support would be needed longer term once they are back.

If you have spoken to the school and are still unhappy, you may wish to talk to staff in your local authority. The Enquire helpline (0345 123 2303 or email info@enquire.org.uk) can tell you the best person to speak to in your area.

It’s worth checking your local authority policy on additional support for learning before talking to staff about your child’s needs. You can find links to your local authority policy on the Local authorities section of our website.

0345 123 2303
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Helpline: 0345 123 2303

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