Part-time timetables

Part-time timetables

There are lots of reasons why your child might go onto a part-time timetable. Whatever the reason, the focus should always be on making sure your child gets the support they need.

This includes support to help them return to school, and support while they are absent.

What does the law say?

Part-time timetables are not specifically discussed in law, but there are a number of rights that we should consider when talking about them. The laws explained below highlight that your child has the same rights to education as all other pupils. It is important to consider how a part-time timetable might impact these rights.

All children in Scotland are entitled to an education from the age of 5 until they turn 16. The right to an education is written in Scottish education law, as well as the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

Scottish education law also says all children should be supported to achieve their full potential. The Additional Support for Learning Act (the ‘ASL Act’) says that support should be provided to children who have additional support needs so that they can ‘benefit fully’ from their education.

The Equality Act 2010 says that nobody should be put at a disadvantage or discriminated against because of their disability or any other protected characteristic. This means that if your child is disabled, they have the same rights to education as any other child.

  • School attendance

    This factsheet explains the law on school attendance, and what happens if your child is struggling or unable to attend school regularly.

  • Inclusion, equality and wellbeing

    Factsheet explaining what local authorities, schools and nurseries should do to make sure all pupils are included, treated fairly, and have their wellbeing supported and protected.

When should a part-time timetable be used?

School staff or other professionals might suggest your child moves to a part-time timetable in particular circumstances. For example, it may help your child to return to school following an illness or exclusion. It could also be used where some time is needed to put in place the additional support that your child needs.

A part-time timetable should only be used for a short time, and only if it is in your child’s best interests. Your child’s wellbeing should be at the centre of any decision. A part-time timetable should never be used as a long-term way of meeting your child’s needs. There should always be an agreed timescale for your child to return to school full-time if they’re well enough to do so.

It is also important that your child can access learning for the time that they are not at school. The school should work with you and your child to find the best way to support your child’s learning while they are not at school. This could mean sending work home, accessing learning online, or attending learning experiences at a different setting.

My child’s school want to put my child on a part-time timetable and I don’t agree. What can I do?

Your child should only be put on to a part-time timetable if this is in their best interests. If you have concerns, you should ask for a meeting with the person responsible for additional support for learning at your child’s school.

At the meeting, you could:

  • ask why your child is being considered for a part-time timetable
  • ask how they feel this is in the best interests of your child, and how it will meet your child’s needs
  • ask what the timescales will be for returning your child to full-time education
  • ask how they will support your child’s learning for the time they will not be at school.

It may be helpful to ask for confirmation of these plans in writing.

There are further steps that you can take beyond this if you need to. Your next step would be to write to the head teacher about your concerns. Following this, you could contact your local authority directly. For more information, have a look at our Solving problems with school page.

My child has been on a part-time timetable for a long time. What can I do?

You should first contact your child’s school to discuss your concerns. You should ask for a meeting with the person responsible for additional support for learning, which is often a deputy head or principal teacher. You can ask what the timescales are for returning your child to full-time education, and what support will be put in place to help your child work towards this. Explain the impact that being out of school is having on your child, and the family.

If you are still concerned, your next step would be to ask for a meeting with the head teacher at your child’s school. Following this, you could contact your local authority directly.

You can find advice on resolving issues on our Solving problems with school page.

Can my child attend school part-time, and be home educated the rest of the time?

This arrangement is sometimes known as ‘flexi-schooling’.

A flexi-schooling arrangement would mean that you and your local authority agree to have joint responsibility for educating your child. Your child would attend school some of the time (e.g., certain days, or certain subjects) and be educated at home the rest of the time.

Flexi-schooling is different from a part-time timetable, where the local authority remains responsible for all of your child’s education.

There is no specific right to ask for flexi-schooling as it is not discussed specifically in law. Local authorities and schools should consider requests for flexi-schooling on a case-by-case basis. It is their decision whether they choose to agree to it.

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