All children have the right to an education that meets their needs. A right to full time education in school isn’t set out anywhere in law, but it is implied. In most situations “full-time” education refers to 25 hours of education per week.
Your local authority, usually through their schools, must provide education that is directed to the development of the personality, talents and mental and physical abilities of your child to their fullest potential.
Sometimes, a school may suggest a child attends school part-time. This could be to allow the child to recover from being unwell, be a short-term solution until more suitable support can be arranged or be part of a planned phased return to school after a child has been off school.
If you're child is struggling to attend school you can talk to the school about them attending only some lessons, and then discuss how they could be supported to gradually increase their time in school.
Part-time education should only be a short-term solution as a way of improving things for a child. Schools should not provide a part-time timetable as a way of managing a pupil’s additional support needs. Long-term part-time attendance might be a sign that the right support is not in place for a child or they are not attending the right school.
The law says that “pupils are to be educated as far as is reasonable in accordance with wishes of their parents.”
If the school is suggesting your child attend part-time they should ask you if are happy with this arrangement and involve you in planning. If the school is saying they are unable to have your child full-time and you do not agree with the idea of part-time attendance, the school must follow formal exclusion procedures in order for your child to be out of school. There are only very specific reasons that a school can exclude a child, our pages on exclusion set these out in detail.
If your child is in secondary school, it is worth discussing how a part-time timetable will affect their subject choices and exams.
If you feel that the school your child is attending is no longer suitable, you can make a placing request to another school.
- ask for a meeting with the school if your child has been on a part-time timetable for some time or you aren’t happy with the arrangement
- ask how the school will ensure your child's rights to full-time education is met
- ask the school to discuss how they can help your child back into full-time education
- ask the school whether they feel the school is still the right place for your child if they are unable to offer any further support
- ask how your child will be supported to continue to learn when they are not in school
- explain that you are going to raise your concerns with the local authority
- ask about using independent mediation if you feel no progress is not being made with the school.
Possible conversation starters:
- My child has been on a part-time table for some time. Can we talk about what support he needs to spend more time in school?
- How can my child’s progress be monitored while they are off school?
- Can we look ahead at how this will impact on my child’s subject choices/exams?
- Can we discuss whether this school is still the best place for my child as he is missing out on his education?