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School session times

Statutory Requirements for changing school session times

In September 2011 restrictions on schools making changes to the start and end of the school day were removed.

This means schools are now able to make changes to start and finish times more quickly than before, as long as everyone affected is consulted and given reasonable notice.

East Sussex Guidance

Schools in the county are encouraged to follow good practice guidance to make sure consultation and communication procedures are appropriate and effective.

Governing bodies should still consult with parents, staff, local schools and the local authority on any proposal to change the school day or session times. All responses should be taken into account before making the final decision.

Reasonable notice of the change should be given, bearing in mind the potential impact on parents’ schedules and the contractual position of staff. The impact on local transport should also be considered as part of any proposal for change.

Schools are required to open for 380 half-day sessions (190 days) in each school year, beginning from the first term. This is consistent with the annual up-to-195-days required by a teacher's statutory conditions of service. The additional up-to-five-days are non-teaching work days.

The local authority retains responsibility for setting holiday and term dates in the case of community and voluntary controlled schools. The term dates for foundation and voluntary aided schools are decided by the governing body.

Sessions must allow enough lesson time to deliver a broad and balanced curriculum that includes the National Curriculum and religious education. Schools are free to decide the length of each lesson but current minimum recommendations per week are:

  • 5 to 7 year olds – 21 hours
  • 8 to 11 year olds – 23.5 hours
  • 12 to 13 year olds – 24 hours
  • 14 to 16 year olds – 25 hours.

Recommended processes

Step 1

The governing body should consult:

  • the local authority
  • the headteacher
  • all teaching and support staff
  • the HR contact (so that any procedures that may be required to vary contracts of employment are put in place in good time).

The authority will try to respond to schools as quickly as possible following receipt of the Proposed Changes to School Session Times form (Word, 104KB).

Step 2

The governing body should prepare and circulate a written statement to:

  • all parents or carers of registered pupils of the school
  • to all teaching and support staff
  • neighbouring and partner schools
  • school catering
  • crossing patrols
  • transport contractors where appropriate.

The school should try to make sure parents or carers of pupils absent from school are provided with the information.

This statement should be made available in other languages if appropriate and should include:

  • the implications of proposed changes
  • the authority's written comments
  • the fact that the changes will be made to the beginning or end of the school day
  • the specific changes
  • the proposed date of effect; (traditionally changes have taken effect at the beginning of a school term and this is still likely to be the preferred option)
  • the date, time and venue of a parents' meeting to discuss the proposals (there should be a minimum of two weeks from publication of the statement to the date of the meeting)
  • arrangements for parents and carers to make their views known in writing to the governing body.

Step 3

A meeting of all parents or carers of registered pupils to discuss the proposals should be arranged. A minimum of two weeks' notice should be given (Step 2 above).

The governing body should consider any comments made at the parents and carers meeting and any comments received in writing, before deciding whether the proposed changes should be implemented (with or without modification).

Step 4

The governing body should notify the parents, carers, all staff and the local authority of the outcome of the consultation, and detail:

  • new session times or the continuation of existing arrangements
  • the start date, giving reasonable notice, ideally three months before implementation.

The support officer will update the authority's website and will directly inform:

  • SEN and home-to-school transport teams
  • Personnel Team
  • Standards and Learning Effectiveness Service
  • catering services (if applicable)
  • Capital Strategy (if applicable).

Whether session times have been changed or not, every year schools should complete and return the Transport Session Time form (Word, 104KB).

Related contacts

  • Support Officer to Directors and Members, Children’s Services

    County Hall, St Annes Crescent, Lewes, BN7 1SG

    Phone: 01273 336672
  • Passenger Transport Team

    Phone: 01273 482108


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