Chapter 18 school days of operation and closure of guide for school governorsThis chapter explains the statutory requirements relating to school days of operation and closure.
In this chapter:
- School days of operation and teaching
- Optional and exceptional closures
- Closures for school development days
- School holidays and fixed school term dates
- Length of school day
- Nursery schools
- Primary schools
- Primary and post primary schools
Role of the Board of Governors
|The role of the Board of Governors is to ensure that the school complies with the statutory requirements regarding days of operation and closure.|
18.1. A grant-aided school must be in operation for 200 days per year, less
- 10 optional days, 5 of which are for staff training and development; and
- any exceptional closures approved by DE.
This means that all grant-aided schools must be open to pupils for 190 days, less any exceptional closure days approved by DE. Full-time teachers are required to be available for work on 195 days in any year (this includes 5 days training and development) of which not more than 190 days should involve teaching children in a classroom.
18.2. School teachers have access to five non-teaching days per year (commonly known as Baker Days) to undertake school-based training, development and improvement activities on a whole-school, departmental or individual teacher basis. Schools are closed to pupils on these days.
18.3. The Board of Governors has discretion to close the school for up to another five optional days. Also, any school may request an exceptional closure to deal with circumstances beyond its control, such as adverse weather conditions or burst pipes. The DE Circular 2005/08 PDF 41 KB 'School Optional and Exceptional Closure Days' provides more detailed information on these types of closures.
18.4. In addition to the Baker Days, School Development Days (SDDs) provide additional non-contact time for teachers to facilitate schools in considering school improvement and school development matters. Where a school decides not to use all or some of these school development days, it must be open as normal to pupils on these days.
18.5. DE issues a separate Circular setting out the number of school development days PDF 73 KB approved for each school year. It is essential that these days are used effectively to equip all teaching and non-teaching staff with the knowledge and skills to enrich the learning experiences of and improve the quality of education for their pupils. It is also important that such whole school training and development links with each school’s priorities, as identified in the School Development Plan.
18.6. Proposals for using SDDs should be submitted to the education and library board/ESA as early as possible in a school year so that
- arrangements for support from authority staff, if required, can be arranged; and
- transport and meals arrangements can be made efficiently.
18.7. The education and library board will advise schools of the dates of school holidays and fixed school term dates for pupils in all grant-aided schools, taking account of the availability of school transport and school meals services. Schools are encouraged to adhere to these arrangements having regard to the circumstances of working parents with children at different schools.
18.8. At the end of each school year, the principal of each school must provide the education and library board with a statement as in Form S.A.2 titled School Attendance of the schools operational days and holidays in respect of the ensuing year. The form must be signed by the principal and countersigned by the chairperson or other authorised person representing the Board of Governors of the school. A copy of this form must be displayed in the school for the inspection and information of parents, who may take extracts or copies of it.
18.9. A nursery school must be open for at least four hours on each school day of which not less than three hours has to be spent on suitable training and activities.
18.10. In a primary school, pupils enrolled in a class composed mainly of pupils who had not attained the age of eight at the beginning of the school year, are required to attend school for a minimum of three hours per day, other than for Religious Education.
18.11. In a primary and post primary school, all other pupils are required to attend for a minimum of four and a half hours per day, other than for Religious Education. The four and a half hours must be in two sessions separated by a period of not less than half an hour. Generally, this means a primary or post primary school is open for a minimum of five hours per day.
18.12. DE can change the requirements at paragraphs 9 and 10
- when there are special circumstances connected with the organisation of a primary school; or
- in the case of primary or post primary aged pupils for whom special instruction of a special nature is being provided.
Education and Libraries (NI) Order 1986 - Article 17A
(Regulations as to the carrying on of grant-aided schools)
Education and Libraries (NI) Order 1986 - Article 48
(Registration of pupils at school)
Education Nursery Schools Regulations 1973 SR No. 400
Education Primary Schools: General Regulations 1973 SR No. 402
Education Secondary Schools (Grant Conditions) Regulations 1973 SR No. 403
Education Registration and Attendance of Pupils Regulations 1974 SR No. 78
DE Circular 2005/8 School Optional and Exceptional Closure Days
www.deni.gov.uk/school_operational___exceptional_closures_2005_8.pdf PDF 41 KB
DE Circular 2010/05 School Development Days