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Reduced timetable guidance for schools in Devon


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Local Authority position statement on the use of reduced timetables

Devon County Council has an overarching responsibility for the educational attainment and safety of all school age children in the county and schools have a duty of care towards their pupils.

‘Can a school place a pupil on a part-time timetable? As a rule, no. All pupils of compulsory school age are entitled to a full-time education. In very exceptional circumstances there may be a need for a temporary part-time timetable to meet a pupil’s individual needs. For example, where a medical condition prevents a pupil from attending full-time education and a part-time timetable is considered as part of a re-integration package. A part-time timetable must not be treated as a long-term solution. Any pastoral support programme or other agreement must have a time limit by which point the pupil is expected to attend full-time or be provided with alternative provision. In agreeing to a part-time timetable, a school has agreed to a pupil being absent from school for part of the week or day and therefore must record it as authorised absence’

It is widely recognised that education is a protective factor for many vulnerable children. If children are in school and engaged in education, they are not exposed to other risk factors. It is therefore important that the focus should be on preventative early intervention and that the use of reduced timetables is kept to a minimum and are only used as an exceptional measure. As described in ‘Suspension and Permanent Exclusion from maintained schools, academies and pupil referral units in England, including pupils movement’ September 2022 (statutory guidance), reduced timetables should not be used to manage a pupil’s behaviour and must only be in place for the shortest time necessary.

Local authorities are also covered by the public sector equality duty and must have regard to the need to eliminate discrimination, promote equality of opportunity and foster good relations between disabled and non-disabled children and young people.

Devon County Council is committed to every child’s right to a full-time education and makes clear the requirement that a reduced timetable cannot be implemented without:

  • An assessment of need having taken place to ensure that it will benefit the pupil.
  • A risk assessment and relevant plan in place.
  • Written agreement from a parent/carer.
  • An interim or early annual review having been called, to which Devon County Council’s
    SEND team is invited, for pupils with an EHCP.
  • The presence and agreement of a representative from the Virtual School of the placing
    local authority at any meeting where the intervention will be discussed for a child looked
  • Multi-disciplinary input for pupils who do not have an EHCP or a child in care. This is
    especially important for pupils with a social worker who must consent to any reduced
  • A supporting Individual Healthcare Plan for pupils with medical needs.
  • Schools being able to still evidence educational progress for the pupil.
  • Where school transport is involved: before there is any agreement for a reduced timetable, Devon’s school transport team must be consulted in advance. The transport team will expect any agreement to tie in with either a school’s opening or closing time. The pupil must be eligible for transport under normal transport criteria. Where a reduced timetable involves a timetable outside of both the schools opening and closing times then the school will be responsible for transport
    arrangements and costs.


The purpose of this document, therefore, is to:

  1. To identify a good practice approach for all maintained Devon County schools, academies and alternative provision settings, so that reduced timetables are only used appropriately to best effect. This will protect both pupil and school.
  2. To assist schools in ensuring that no pupil is excluded illegally through the imposition of a reduced timetable.
  3. To secure a more consistent approach that restricts the use of a reduced timetable for an extended period of time, as this can impair a pupil’s progress and attainment.
  4. To ensure that a child’s unmet needs are identified and addressed so that they may access their entitlement to a full-time education.


This guidance:

  • Applies to pupils of compulsory school age (who reach age 5 by 31 of August, December and 30 April in an academic year. Pupils in Y11 must remain on roll until the last Friday in June in which they attain age 16).
  • Therefore, it does not apply to any agreed ‘staggered’ induction of reception-aged pupils.
  • Does not apply to pupils who are dual registered with Torlands Academy or Devon Short Stay Hospital School, or a specialist provider of an alternative provision, as long as the pupil has a full-time offer of education.
  • Does not apply to pupils on a personalised curriculum, as long as the combined learning activity means a pupil has a full-time offer of education.

A timetable is considered reduced when the total hours provided are less than those provided to most of the peers of the pupil in that setting.

Education should be suitable to a child’s age, ability and aptitude, considering any special educational needs they may have.

As a rule, all pupils should receive full time education consistent with their key stage:

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

Source: Out of school … out of Mind? Local Government Ombudsman, September 2011.

Statutory obligations placed upon schools

Pupils who have a personalised curriculum are not considered to be on a reduced timetable, provided that:

  • The personalised curriculum provides the pupil with full-time education provision and the school can evidence progress.
  • Any provision not delivered on the school site has been approved by the school, is of an educational nature and is supervised by a person authorised by the school.
  • The school has a mechanism in place for ensuring that the pupil is attending the alternative provision and should accurately record attendance.
  • The school has visited the provision to ensure that there are no safeguarding risks.
  • To provide full time education for all pupils.
  • To deliver the national curriculum or, for academies, a broad and balanced curriculum.
  • To provide a safe environment in which children can learn (KCSIE 2021).
  • Any approach (to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children) should be centred on taking action to ensure all children have the best outcomes (KCSIE 2021).
  • To formally record all exclusions. Therefore, sending a pupil home to ‘cool off’, or refusing to allow a pupil onto the school site who has not been formally excluded access to the school site, is unlawful regardless of whether these actions occur with the agreement of parents.

Statutory obligations placed upon parents

The Education Act 1996 states that it is the duty of parents to secure the education of their children of compulsory school age:

The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable –

a) to his age, ability and aptitude, and
b) to any special educational needs, he may have,

either by regular attendance at school or otherwise. Once a parent has agreed a reduced timetable for a period of 6 weeks, if the intervention at the end of this time has not delivered improvement in the child’s access to education, other strategies should be looked at because a parent could be considered to be in breach of their statutory duty at this point.

When might a reduced timetable be used?

This is not an exhaustive list, but a reduced timetable may be considered a reasonable, proportionate and necessary response in the following circumstances:

  • As part of a planned reintegration approach for pupils 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 (no longer than six weeks) reduced timetable would support a pupil who has become disaffected, to regain success. This should be a closely monitored intervention to address and manage the impact of significantly challenging behavioural, emotional or social needs. It is expected that this strategy would be used in conjunction with a wider intervention  plan with clearly defined and reviewed outcomes.
  • For medical reasons when a pupil has a serious medical condition where recovery is the priority outcome. Arrangements should be part of an Individual Healthcare Plan agreed between the school and health professionals.

Expectations of schools

A reduced timetable is not seen by the DfE or OFSTED as an appropriate method of managing poor behaviour, or pupils at risk of exclusion. This intervention should only be considered after other strategies have been exhausted and it should only be used for the benefit of the pupil.

It is expected that schools will have a range of approaches to meet need and it is important that all intervention strategies are explored, or put in place, before problems become entrenched. These interventions could be delivered in-house, commissioned or external. Collaboration with support services such as targeted Early Help, EWO, Inclusion team, Educational Psychologists or SEMH Advisory Team may be helpful in identifying ways to promote positive change and extend timetables in a timely manner. Further targeted support may be accessed or commissioned through different sources as appropriate.

A reduced timetable strategy should never be implemented without parental permission or, in the case of looked after children those with PR, because it could be construed and challenged as an unofficial exclusion, which is unlawful. The school could also be regarded as preventing the pupil from accessing the curriculum. In these circumstances the school must consider alternative interventions.

A reduced timetable should be agreed for no longer than 6 weeks.

If a pupil is normally entitled to transport assistance, the school must consider what arrangements it will make to get them to and from school. (The local authority will not provide bespoke transport arrangements in such circumstances).

Sufficient hours and provision should be offered to enable the pupil to make academic progress, it is advised that a pupil can access at least one session each day.

Schools should exercise additional care and caution when considering reducing the timetable of *vulnerable pupils. The following examples of vulnerable pupils are not exhaustive:

  • CLA (only with the agreement of the Virtual School)
  • Children on the edge of care (open to DCC Bridges Team)
  • Pupils with EHCPs (in partnership with the SEND Team)
  • Pupils with SEN
  • From GRT backgrounds
  • Regularly missing persons
  • At risk of exclusion
  • Who are offending or at risk of offending
  • Whose lives have been or are affected by drugs or alcohol or have other ACEs.

*A reduced timetable should not be implemented where there are safeguarding concerns such as a risk of Child Exploitation, a child is subject to CP planning or subject to a multi-agency strategy unless explicitly agreed by the allocated social worker and in writing.

All professionals working with the pupil should be consulted when a reduced timetable is being considered and be party to informing the Risk Assessment.

Pupils should be provided with differentiated work to complete at home during the period of their reduced timetable (up to six weeks). Schools should ensure that it is marked in line with the school marking and feedback policy, to reduce the impact of the temporary provision and reduced access to teachers. Please note, it is not appropriate to mark the registers using Code B.

A risk assessment should be carried out before implementation of a reduced timetable using the template included as Appendix 2.

Reduced timetables should be a response to an assessment of need so there should be an audit trail to support the proposal, which schools should be able to evidence in the Personalised Learning Plan (PLP) e.g. an Early Help Assessment, a Personal Education Plan, a Relational Support Plan, Individual Behaviour Plan, Pastoral Support Plan, Individual Education Plan or Individual Healthcare
Plan. The plan should include objectives for the reduced timetable that are clearly defined and understood by all parties.

Schools will retain responsibility for the academic progress of pupils on reduced timetables, therefore the lack of access to a taught curriculum will necessitate intervention to support the pupil to catch up on work missed. This should be included in the plan linked to the intervention.

Children with SEND

Devon County Council has a statutory duty to provide full-time education for children with EHCPs.

If a school is considering a reduced timetable for a pupil with an EHCP the LA must be consulted and invited to an interim review or early annual review at the earliest opportunity. Any decision to implement a reduced timetable must be in consultation and agreement with the child’s parents/carers and should demonstrate a clear benefit to the child, with a carefully planned transition to a full-time timetable.

The school must make arrangements for suitable education as per the provision detailed in the EHC Plan. Schools should ensure that they are compliant with the SEND Code of Practice 2015 and the Equality Act 2010.

Children looked after

Devon County Council has a statutory duty to provide full-time education for CLA.

If a school is considering a reduced timetable for a CLA pupil the Virtual School Headteacher, or a representative, and those with PR must be consulted and invited to the initial meeting and any subsequent review meetings. The Virtual School Headteacher, or a representative (ALA), will countersign the Reduced Timetable Proforma if arrangements are agreed and should be provided with a copy of the document along with the signed and completed Risk Assessment.

The Virtual School may consider arrangements for the reimbursement of a proportion of pupil
premium plus funding that has been paid to the school, to enable top-up provision to be put in place.

Pupils with medical conditions

Reasonable adjustments should be made to accommodate pupils who would otherwise struggle to attend school due to illness or a medical condition.

Children open to social care

If a school is considering a reduced timetable for a child open to social care or under assessment, then the social worker must be consulted and school must ensure they have agreement in writing from the social worker consenting to the reduced timetable and the social worker must be provided with a copy of the document along with the signed and completed Risk Assessment. If the case is open to DCC Bridges Team, then there should be consultation with the Adolescent worker and Education worker within that team.

Monitoring a review

As all reduced timetables need parental consent to the reduced timetable, the session must be marked in the register as an authorised absence using CODE C (other authorised circumstances).

Parents should be made aware at the outset that the responsibility for their child rests with them during these hours.

Schools should ensure that there is a named member of staff responsible for monitoring each reduced timetable.

During the time that the child is at home they must be supervised. If a child is in a public place during school hours and unsupervised then this may lead to the parent/carer being issued with a penalty notice.

Education Welfare Officers will discuss pupils on reduced timetables during attendance visits and will be able to provide support and advice to schools on this matter.

The information will also feed into the Schools’ OneDevon Management Board, as part of the inclusion agenda.

The LA will hold schools to account via the SEND Code of Practice, Exclusions and Attendance Guidance and KCSIE.


  • Schools have a statutory duty to provide full time education for all pupils.
  • However, in the most exceptional circumstances, there may be a need for a temporary reduced timetable to meet a pupil’s individual needs.
  • A reduced timetable should be in place for no longer than 6 weeks.
  • The head teacher must agree a reduced timetable.
  • All professionals involved should be consulted and support the reduced timetable prior to it starting.
  • The child’s parents/carers must agree a reduced timetable. Without their agreement, schools cannot proceed as this could be an unlawful exclusion.
  • The LA SEND team must agree a reduced timetable for children with SEN who have an EHC Plan.
  • The Virtual School of the placing authority must agree a reduced timetable for looked after children.
  • The arrangement for pupils with medical needs must follow Devon County’s Medical Needs guidance. Education for children with additional health needs, unable to attend school – Support for schools and settings (
  • A reduced timetable should not be implemented where there are safeguarding concerns such as a risk of Child Exploitation, a child is subject to CP planning or subject to a multi-agency strategy with written agreement of the social worker.
  • A risk assessment must be completed in every case and reviewed as necessary. – see page 9 of the downloadable version of this web page.
  • A clear action plan for improving education and addressing any identified issues for the child must be in place.
  • The DCC Education Inclusion Team must be notified of any pupil on a reduced educational provision.

Links to online forms can be accessed here Annex R: Notification of a Temporary Part-Time School Timetable (

The following forms are available to view and download on the downloadable version of this page (see Document Resources above).

  • Risk Assessment for Reduced Timetable
  • Review of Risk Assessment Plan (Wk 2)
  • Review of Risk Assessment Plan (Wk 4)
  • Review of Risk Assessment Plan (Wk 6)

Contact information

Area Days Contact name Contact number Email
Exeter and CEC Tue-Thur Miranda Nicholson 01392 384907
East and Mid Devon Mon-Fri Matt Gould 01392 383969
North Devon, Torridge, Tavistock and Okehampton Mon-Thur Jaye MacDonald 01392 380911
South Devon Mon-Fri Serena Worth 0192 381233
Education Support Mon-Fri Elena Milego 01392 382787
Service Lead for Inclusion and Wellbeing Mon-Fri Marc Kastner 01392 380910
Service lead for Safeguarding Mon-Fri Jen Norris