If you are applying to enter Dental Core or Specialty Training but are unable to train full time, you may be able to apply for one of our flexible training options.

Your eligibility and options available to you will be dependent on what level training you are undertaking.

Less than Full Time (LTFT) training

If you are undertaking Dental Core or Specialty Training, you may be eligible to apply for LTFT training.

Non-urgent advice: Dental Core Training (DCT) options

Less than Full Time (LTFT) training is the only flexible training option for those undertaking a DCT post. 

You can apply for LTFT training under one of 2 categories.

Category 1

To be eligible to apply under category 1, you must have one of the following.

  • A disability.
  • Ill health.
  • Caring responsibility for children.
  • Caring responsibility for ill/disabled partner, relative or dependent.
Category 2

To apply under category 2, you must have one of the following.

  • Unique opportunities for personal/professional development, including training for national/international sporting events.
  • Religious commitments involving training for a particular role which requires a specific time commitment.
  • Non-medical development (for example, law or management courses).

Other well-founded or personal reasons not listed above may be considered. Approval is dependent on the capacity of the programme and available resources.

LTFT training requirements

You will normally be required to undertake no less than 50% of full-time training. In exceptional individual circumstances which are agreed by the Postgraduate Dental Dean in advance, you may be allowed to undertake training at less than 50% of full time for a limited period.

How to apply for LTFT training

Please contact your Regional Office (Deanery) and Training Programme Director (TPD) for more information on the application process, window and deadlines. It is important to give at least 16 weeks’ notice of your wish to train LTFT to allow sufficient time for the employing Trust to be notified and to discuss with the TPD for the purposes of rotation planning. 

Further information is available on the COPDEND website and found within the Dental Gold Guide 2021.

Additional flexible training opportunities for Dental Specialty Training (DST)

In addition to LTFT training, if you are undertaking a DST post you may be eligible for other flexible training opportunities.

The options available to you depend on the region you are training in. Ensure you check the eligibility criteria for each training option to see whether it is available in your region.

Find out more about the different options available below.

Flexible Portfolio Training (FPT)

The Flexible Portfolio Training (FPT) pilot scheme was first introduced as a partnership between the Royal College of Physicians and NHS England for those training in ST3 Medicine. FPT is an opportunity for you to lead meaningful project work and aims to benefit your professional development and support regional improvements. 

It is now being piloted in Yorkshire and the Humber and London, Kent, Surrey and Sussex deaneries for dental specialty post-graduate dentists in training. The scheme protects 1 day a week (or 20% time equivalent) for 1 year, and aims to: 

  • provide protected time for non-clinical professional development
  • expose you to new ways of working, teamwork, and leadership
  • enable you to become more adaptable to changing circumstances and agile in approaches to future needs and delivery responsibilities

Non-clinical days may focus on healthcare education, health entrepreneurship, health technology, quality improvement, leadership, or research. There may also be an opportunity to undertake a Postgraduate Certificate in Medical Education, Healthcare Leadership or Clinical Research (other topics subject to approval). 

Undertaking this scheme is unlikely to increase the length of training. 


FPT opportunities are open to all Full-Time and LTFT dental specialty post-graduate dentists in training in participating regions, to apply. 

You must be supported by your TPD. You must have achieved an Outcome 1 at your last Annual Review of Competency Progression (ARCP).


Successful applicants will need to complete an initial assessment with their FPT supervisor at the start of each year/rotation. This will help to develop a realistic Personal Development Plan. 

Reflection on learning is a key to self-development. Evidence must be regularly updated on the e-portfolio including reports, appraisals and 360 feedback. 

Interim meetings with FPT supervisors must be completed. These will be reviewed by the Education Supervisor to ensure trainees are progressing at an expected rate. FPT supervisors will also complete a report which will form part of the ARCP process.

When and how to apply

If eligible, you must submit a proposal, supported by a suitable supervisor together with the application form and cover letter.

The number of places allocated to this scheme per year will depend on the quality of applications.

Please speak to your TPD or check your deanery website or regional office for details of applications opening and closing dates.

Find the regional office contact details.

Out of Programme (OOP)

Out of Programme (OOP) training is when a dental specialty post-graduate dentist in training takes time out of their approved programme.  

There are 4 types of OOP available. 

  • Out of Programme for Clinical Experience (OOPE): This facilitates you to take a break from training to gain professional skills that will enhance your future practice. For example, skills in leadership, academia, education, patient safety or experience different working practices or areas.
  • Out of Programme for Research (OOPR): This facilitates you in taking time out of training to pursue research for periods over 6 months.
  • Out of Programme for Clinical Training (OOPT): This facilitates you to step out of training to undertake clinical training outside of your training programme.
  • Out of Programme for Career Break (OOPC): This is where you may request a break for a designated and agreed period to pursue other interests. For example, domestic responsibilities or industry.


You must have completed at least 12 months of training to be eligible to apply. OOPE, OOPT, OOPC are usually available for a maximum of 1 year. Exceptional approval for up to 2 years may be granted at the discretion of the Postgraduate Dental Dean. 

OOPR is available normally for up to 3 years with exceptional approval up to 4 years at the discretion of Postgraduate Dental Dean. 

How to Apply 

Please discuss this with your Training Programme Director (TPD) and Educational Supervisor (ES) as early as possible before you make an application.  

You must give at least 6 months’ notice in advance of the proposed OOP start date and give your employer (current and/or next) 3 months’ notice in order to meet the Code of Practice requirements. 

You should apply using the OOP application form and provide all requested supporting documentation as part of the process.  

Your TPD will review the application and the final decision to approve, reject or request further information will be made by the Postgraduate Dean (or nominated Deputy). 

Please contact your Regional Office (Deanery) and Training Programme Director for more information on the application process. 

Supported Return to Training (SuppoRTT)

Supported Return to Training (SuppoRTT) is a centrally funded NHS England programme which aims to support everyone to return to training safely and confidently, after a sustained period of absence. 

It was developed to enable you to have a safe, supported return to work. It recognises returning dental specialty post-graduate dentists in training are a diverse group and aims to provide a bespoke package of learning and supporting resources to suit individual needs.

Who is eligible for SuppoRTT?

You are eligible to apply for SuppoRTT if you have been absent for a period of 3 months or more, regardless of the reason. If you have been absent for a shorter period of time, you may also be able to access support.    

We understand that returning to training after a period of absence can impact your clinical skills and confidence, however, you are not on your own. NHS England and your School are here to support and guide you through this process. You just need to ask. 

What can SuppoRTT offer?

The SuppoRTT programme consists of: 

  • a structured and systematic process for planning absence, maintaining contact whilst out and planning for your return 
  • a menu of supported Return to Training Activities (RTT-A) that can be built into an individualised return-to-training package 
  • funding to support Continuing Professional Development (CPD) activities and a Supernumerary period dependent on you individual needs

The SuppoRTT programme can also offer: 

  • a period of enhanced supervision 
  • online and face-to-face refresher courses and simulation training 
  • mentoring or professional coaching 
  • conferences, workshops, and webinars 
  • online learning resources

Each regional office offers a slightly different "package", but there is room to request additional resources to suit you if required. Just talk to your supervisor about anything that you feel you need. You can also contact your Trusts designated SuppoRTT Champion for further information and advice.

How do I access SuppoRTT?

Time out of training is coordinated by local NHS England offices. Get in touch with your local NHS England team as soon as you know you will be taking time away, as this allows you to plan your time out and your return as much as possible. It is important to take the time to complete your pre-absence and pre-return forms, if possible, because this is how SuppoRTT funding is made available. 

You can access personalised advice and support through your regional office, and you will be encouraged to develop an individualised 'return to training' package with your supervisor, using local NHS England SuppoRTT Team processes. 

Find out more information and resources about the SuppoRTT programme.

Less than Full Time Training (Paediatric Dentistry pilot)

This option is only currently available for Yorkshire and the Humber Deanery as part of a pilot.

Unlike current LTFT options, these posts are advertised and offered at 0.6 whole time equivalent (WTE) alone, removing the need for you to apply to a Full-Time training post and apply for LTFT once appointed. 

The rationale emerged from the concept of widening access to specialty training opportunities. Those appointed to LTFT posts may use their non-contracted days to engage in clinical or non-clinical activities. For example, continuing to work in general dental practice or salaried services, or undertaking other personal responsibilities.


This is open to all dental specialty post-graduate dentists in training interested in Paediatric Dentistry. 

How to apply

Please contact Yorkshire and the Humber Deanery and Training Programme Director for more information on whether any LTFT Paediatric posts will be in recruitment and how to apply. 

Overview of flexible training opportunities for DST

The flexible training opportunities available if you are undertaking Dental Specialty Training are: Less than Full Time (LTFT) training, Flexible Portfolio Training (FPT), Out of Programme (OOP) and Supported Return to Training (SuppoRTT).

Show transcript Hide transcript


The NHS is committed to increasing flexibility


in postgraduate dental training


to empower personal development, enhance wellbeing and reduce burnout.


We currently offer several flexible training options, including...


the ability to train Less than Full Time or LTFT for short.




All dentists in training are eligible to apply


to train at LTFT once appointed to post.


Well-founded reasons may include unique


opportunities for personal and professional developments;


ill health or disability;


Caring responsibilities and religious commitments.


You are normally required to undertake


no less than 50% of full-time training.


We also offer the opportunity for dentists in training to take time


out of their programme, otherwise known as ‘Out Of Programme' or OOP.


There are four types of OOP available for dentists in training.


‘Out Of Programme For Clinical Experience’ or OOPE.


Taking a break to gain professional skills that will enhance their future practice.




Skills in leadership, Academia, Education, Patient


Safety or experience different working practices or areas.


‘Out Of Programme For Research’ or OOPR.


Taking time out to pursue research for periods over 6 months.


‘Out Of Programme For Clinical Training’.




Taking a break to undertake


clinical training outside of the specialty training programme.


‘Out Of Programme For Career Break’.




Taking a break for a designated and agreed period to pursue other interests e.g.


domestic responsibilities, industry, etc.




To be eligible to take time out of programme,


you will usually have completed 12 months of training.




If you wish to apply for a flexible option, it's good to discuss


and plan with your educational supervisor or training programme director


as it can take up to three months from applying to starting.


You can apply online through your local office’s website.


For LTFT you will need to give at least 16 weeks notice to your department.


For OOP you must give at least 6 months notice


in advance of the proposed start date.


Want to know more?


Contact your local office and more information can be found


in the Dental Gold Guide.

Media last reviewed: 19 June 2023

Next review due: 19 June 2024

Overview of Flexible Portfolio Training (FPT)

An overview of Flexible Portfolio Training (FPT).

Show transcript Hide transcript


The NHS is committed to increasing flexibility


in postgraduate dental training. Flexible Portfolio Training, or FPT for short,


is a new and exciting opportunity to lead


and engage with a meaningful project.


It aims to protect one day per week


or 20% time equivalent for one year to support non-clinical professional


growth, increase exposure to new ways


of working, teamwork and leadership,


improve your ability to adapt to future


needs and delivery responsibilities.


Your project may focus on health care education, health entrepreneurship,


technology, quality improvement, leadership or research.


You may have the opportunity to undertake a postgraduate certificate


in medical education, health care leadership or clinical research.


These areas may vary regionally


and other topics are subject to approval.




This opportunity is currently being piloted for all full time


and less than full time dentists in training within the London


and Kent, Surrey and Sussex region and Yorkshire and Humber region.


Once evaluated,


this may be rolled out across further regions.


Each dental specialty within these regions will allocate a year


or range of years where you can apply for this scheme.


You must be supported by your training programme director


and you must have achieved an ‘outcome 1’ at your last annual


review of competence progression, or ARCP for short.




If eligible, you must submit a proposal outlining your project interests,


supported by a suitable supervisor together with the application


form and cover letter.


The number of places allocated to this scheme


per year will depend on the quality of applications.


Whilst undertaking Flexible Portfolio Training,


there are some important considerations you should be aware of.


You will need to complete an initial assessment


with your flexible portfolio training supervisor at the start of each year


or rotation, to develop a realistic personal development plan


and complete interim meetings also.


Evidence must be regularly updated on your e-portfolio,


including reports, appraisals, 360 Feedback and reflections on learning.


This will be reviewed by your educational supervisor,


or ES, to ensure that you are progressing at an expected rate.


Your FPT supervisor will complete a report


which will form part of your annual review of competence progression process.


If you are interested in exploring these options, you should contact


the London and Kent, Surrey and Sussex or Yorkshire and Humber Local Offices.


More information can be found in the Dental Gold Guide.

English (United Kingdom)


Media last reviewed: 19 June 2023

Next review due: 19 June 2024

Page last reviewed: 19 June 2023
Next review due: 20 June 2024