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Reduced timetables

Reduced Timetables Panel

The primary audience for this page is schools and educational establishments. 


This protocol has been created in partnership with Plymouth schools and sets out Plymouth's position in relation to pupils who experience reductions in their full-time education. 

All children have a right to a full-time, efficient education suitable to their age, ability and any special needs they may haveReduced timetables should be considered only within the context of a school's wider strategic planning for all pupils, regardless of their needs. Schools have a statutory duty to provide full-time education for all pupils unless the parent or carer chooses to educate their child otherwise. All pupils registered at school 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 /4 (Year 10)
  • 25 hours at Key Stage 4 (Year 11)

Section 1: Circumstances in which a reduced timetable can be applied 

This protocol does not refer to the 'staggered' introduction of reception -aged pupils 

The reduction of the hours a child spends in school should only be for one of three reasons: 

  1. As part of a reintegration approach for pupils who have not attended school for a period of time. 
    For example, due to illness, disability or mental health issues. It is accepted that a reduced timetable may be appropriate as part of a planned reintegration for pupils who have not attended school for a period of time. This is provided that the setting can demonstrate that all relevant sections of this of this document have been followed.
  2. As a strategy of last resort in managing pupils at risk of exclusion
    Plymouth City Council in partnership with Plymouth schools regards reduced timetables as undesirable in use as a method of managing pupils at risk of exclusion. This 'intervention' is viewed as highly intrusive and may only be chosen - if at all - after other strategies have been implemented and exhausted and there has already been a period of multi-agency intervention. That all relevant sections of this document have been followed.
  3. As part of the transition arrangements for exceptionally vulnerable children
    For example, Looked After Children (LAC); children with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP); children with significant Safeguarding issues; children with disabilities and children at the point of transition from one setting to another (see section 4). 

A reduced timetable always requires agreement between the pupil, parent/carer and school. The number of hours spent in education must only be reduced for a time-limited period of no more than six weeks. Once a reduced timetable has been agreed, the pupil should be marked using registration Code C for the part of the day they are not in school.

Schools have a duty of care for all pupils who are on their school roll. The school must ensure that when a pupil is not expected to attend, there is a written agreement with parents, or alternative education providers, about who is carrying out the duty of safeguarding for each session. 

This guidance is not intended to be applied to those pupils where a flexible learning programme has been put in place. For example, where a secondary age pupil spends a proportion of their time following a programme at a local college. Provided that the school has a mechanism in place for ensuring that the pupil is attending the alternative provision, and the pupil's total educational programme is full-time, this arrangement would not be considered as a reduced timetable. 

Section 2: Best Practice Guidance 

When considering placing a pupil on a reduced timetable, the school: 

  1. Must be satisfied that a reduced timetable is an appropriate intervention given the needs of the pupil
    There must be a clear and evidenced rationale for considering a reduced timetable as an intervention aimed at supporting the needs of a pupil. Prior to making any decision regarding implementing a reduced timetable, a detailed assessment through the use of a CAF/Early Help Assessment/TAM must be in place to determine the additional support required for all pupils.  This must include advice from an Educational Psychologist and /or the LA Advisory Teacher (CIT) where appropriate.
    Any agreed arrangements for a pupil's timetable to be reduced must be a detailed standalone document that clearly outlines a plan for reintegration back into full-time education.
  2. Must not pursue a reduced timetable without parental permission as this can be construed as an unofficial exclusion which is illegal.
    If the parent has not requested leave for their child the school could be regarded as preventing the pupil from accessing the curriculum. Parents must be made aware of the advice and support available through the Plymouth Information Advice and Support for Special Educational Needs and Disability (PIAS) .
  3. Must have signed parental permission, evidenced on the pupil file, prior to the commencement of a time-limited reduced timetable.
    If the parent does not agree, the reduced timetable arrangements cannot be implemented. In these circumstances, the school will have to consider alternative interventions. Parents should also be made aware that other services may be consulted for advice.
  4. Must complete a detailed action plan, agreed with the parents and the pupil, demonstrating a clear path of planned reintegration from reduced to full-time provision over a maximum of a six week period.
    The school must ensure the pupil and their parent(s) have an active involvement in the process of planning, reviewing (at least fortnightly) and evaluating the impact of the reduced timetable. Reviews should be conducted in consultation with other relevant professionals who may require further assessments.
    Where there are other plans in place for the pupil's family such as child protection/CAF/TAM, any agreement for a reduced timetable must be a stand-alone document/plan in order that it does not get lost amidst other priorities.
  5. Must not put in place a reduced timetable that exceeds a six week period.
    If the pupil is still on a reduced timetable as the time limit approaches, a multi-professional review must be held to organise full-time education. A maximum of one further period of six weeks should only be agreed in exceptional circumstances with a parental agreement and multi-agency consultation. The plan must also be revised to reflect why an extension was appropriate. The plans must be open to Local Authority inspection upon request.
  6. Must ensure that Parents are aware of their parental responsibility for ensuring the safety and well-being of their child during the times they are not in school and agree to ensure that any work set is completed. 

Section 3: Pupils subject to an Education, Health and Care plan

Where a student has an EHCP the following additional steps should be taken:

  • An interim annual review should be convened by the SENCO which has a local authority representative in attendance, for example, an educational psychologist or a member of the 0-25 team
  • The representative from the local authority must agree to the part-time timetable. If the representative is not the educational psychologist they must first consult with the educational psychologist
  • The reduced timetable must not compromise the support provided to the student in order to meet their needs 

Section 4: Transitions 

At the point of transition, it is the responsibility of the feeder setting to identify and inform the receiving setting of any pupils subject to a reduced timetable, or who have been subject to a reduced time- timetable within the previous two years. 

It is the expectation that schools make use of the Plymouth Transition protocol in respect of these highly vulnerable children  

Section 5: Risk assessment 

Schools must undertake a risk assessment of a pupil's needs in order to assess the impact of a reduced timetable. It is essential that the pupil's welfare during any absence from school is considered. Risk assessments should follow the five steps identified below: 

  • Step 1: Identify possible hazards 
  • Step 2: Decide who may be harmed and how 
  • Step 3: Evaluate the risks and decide on precaution 
  • Step 4: Record your findings and implement them 
  • Step 5: Regularly review your assessment and update if necessary 

The risk assessment should take account of the safety and wellbeing of the pupil as well as the risk of the pupil engaging in criminal activity or substance misuse whilst not in receipt of education during the school day.

Section 6: Monitoring arrangements 

Schools must ensure that attendance officers keep a central record of all pupils on a reduced timetable. Schools should notify The Inclusion, Attendance and Welfare Service (IAWS) of all children on reduced timetables using the CME form which can be found at on the Schoolroom Room. It is recommended that attendance officers set up a reduced timetable pupil group within IAWS should be given access to school documentation relating to pupils on reduced timetables upon request. Plymouth City Council is legally able to take extracts from schools registers under the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) regulations 2006. 

It is illegal for schools to discriminate against pupils on the basis of their SEN and/or disability, including those with SEMH 

R and Registration Code: B

Brief description

Educated off-site (NOT Dual Registration)

Statistical Meaning

Approved Educational Activity

Physical Meaning

Out for the whole session

DfE Definition

Where a registered pupil on the roll is currently being educated off-site.


Additional information

Examples of when this coded would be used are: 

  • Attending taster days at other schools
  • Pupils attending another school
  • Pupils attending vocational courses at the college
  • Pupils undertaking work experience as part of an alternative curriculum or alternative provision

(pupils undertaking work experience under section 560 of the Education Act 1196 should be recorded as Code W). 

Schools should ensure that they have in place arrangements whereby the provider of the alternative activity provided off-site can notify the school of any absences by individual pupils so that the school can record the pupil absence using the relevant absence code. 


Schools should not use this code if a pupil has an agreed reduced timetable. The school should authorise the absence for the sessions that the pupil is not required to be in school using Code C

Brief description

Other authorised circumstances(not covered by another appropriate code)

Statistical Meaning

Authorised absence

Physical Meaning

Out for the whole session

DfE Definition

Special occasions at the discretion of the school.



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