Flexi Schooling describes an arrangement between the parent and school where children are registered at the school in the usual way but attend school on a part time basis. For the rest of the time, the child is educated at home or somewhere of the parents choice. The number of children educated under flexi-schooling arrangements is growing rapidly, and there are now a number of schools up and down the UK which could be described as specialising as flexi schools.
There are a number of reasons why parents may wish to arrange flexi schooling for their children, for example:·
- Illness A desire to home educate while making use of school for some subjects·
- School Phobia/refusal· many children suffer from Anxiety, ASD, autism, ODD and other neurological conditions, which makes the school environment a challenge
- Other curricular activities – Allowing time for a special ability, such as music, sport, drama, dance, financial literacy not taught in the school environment
- A staged/ staggered return to school after an absence for some reason Whatever the reason, neither local authorities nor schools are likely to agree to such arrangements, unless it is clear that it is in the child’s “best interests”.
The Legal Position: it is an offence for a parent to fail to ensure that a child of compulsory school age regularly attends the school at which s/he is registered. However, Flexi schooling is legal providing the parent is able to arrange the agreement of the head teacher of the school at which their child is registered.
The Education Act 1996 states:” The child shall not be taken to have failed to attend regularly at the school by reason of his absence from the school (a) with leave” Section 444 (3)The term ‘leave’ is defined as:” ‘leave’, in relation to a school, means leave granted by any person authorised to do so by the governing body or proprietor of the school.” Section 444(9)
In practice, it is usually the Head teacher of your child’s school to arrange flexi schooling, flexi schooling is usually allowed for a short term (up to six weeks) however, other arrangements can be made is special circumstances as described above, therefore you should prepare a robust proposal and set up a meeting with the head teacher.
Whether or not it is agreed is entirely up to the head teacher’s discretion. The headteacher will probably want to discuss the proposal with his/her senior staff, form teacher, and possibly the school governors. The Head will probably contact the Local Authority for their opinion as the head teacher may not have previously encountered flexi-schooling and will want to discuss the legal implications.
Flexi-schooling in England is an arrangement where a child is registered as a student at a school but only attends school part-time while receiving education at home for the remaining part of the week. This option allows parents and guardians to have a degree of flexibility in their child’s education while maintaining a connection to a traditional school setting. Here are some key points to understand about flexi-schooling in England:
Legal Framework: Flexi-schooling is legal in England. Parents and guardians have the right to request this arrangement, but it is subject to the school’s approval.
Agreement with the School: To implement flexi-schooling, you need to reach an agreement with the headteacher and governing body of the school your child is registered with. The school has the discretion to approve or decline the request based on their assessment of the child’s best interests.
Part-Time Attendance: Under flexi-schooling, the child typically attends school on a part-time basis, often for specific subjects or activities. The remaining part of the education is provided by parents or guardians at home.
Curriculum and Assessment: The school may provide the curriculum and assessment materials for the subjects the child is studying at school. However, for the part of the education that occurs at home, parents or guardians may have more flexibility in choosing resources and approaches.
Socialisation: Flexi-schooling allows students to maintain social interactions with peers at school on the days they attend. This can help address concerns about socialization that some parents may have when considering homeschooling.
Attendance and Registration: The child’s attendance and registration at school are recorded, but they are marked as absent on days when they are not physically present in school. This attendance information is maintained in the school’s records.
Local Authority Notification: Flexi-schooling arrangements do not require specific notification to the local authority unless the child has previously been educated at home, in which case, local authorities should be informed. Local authorities have the right to review the suitability of the education provided.
Special Educational Needs (SEN): If the child has special educational needs, the school and parents should collaborate to ensure that appropriate support is provided both at school and during home-based education.
Examinations and Assessments: Flexi-schooled children may still participate in standardized tests, exams, and assessments conducted by the school.
It’s important to note that while flexi-schooling provides a degree of flexibility, it also comes with certain responsibilities for parents and guardians to ensure that the education provided at home is suitable and meets the child’s needs. Additionally, as educational regulations and guidelines may change, it’s advisable to check with the school and local authorities for the most current information and requirements related to flexi-schooling in your area.
Why Some Schools May Refuse!
Problems, Concerns, and possible issues
There are a number of problems commonly encountered by parents attempting to arrange Flexi schooling for their child:·
SAT’s -Regardless of any flexi schooling arrangements if a child is registered at a school the child’s SAT’s results must be undertaken. Should the child not take the SAT’s test then the school scores zero in all the tests the child fails to take. This is a disincentive for the school (particularly a small school) to make such arrangements. If you agree to the child attending the SAT’s tests, then the school may be fearful that the child will score poorly, again affecting the school’s league table position & funding rather than the mental health and well-being of the child.
This issue must also be considered, and a solution found that works for all parties especially the child.
- The same as the above applies to GCSE’s & league tables. If the child is not intending to take a number of GCSE’s the school may decide that this will damage their league table position and funding.
- Discipline -schools sometimes anticipate there being discipline problems should one child be seen by other pupils failing to attend lessons s/he does not want to attend. The school may anticipate further requests or demands for flexi schooling arrangements by parents.
- The Local Authority will often, not approve of the idea, this we have found is more to do with the ignorance around Flexi schooling rather than it not working well for both the school and family. While formally the school is charged with the responsibility for deciding on whether to allow a flexi schooling arrangement the head teacher will often consult the Local Authority. Ultimately the head teacher may decide that s/he does not want to antagonise the local authority with requests.
- Many school Head Teachers see Flexi schooling as part of a process of a staged return to school following some difficulty like school refusal (school phobia), they seem to fail to understand, even when explicitly discussed with heads that some families really do prefer home education to full time school and will continue to do so into the future.
- A number of schools resist agreeing to flexi schooling arrangements by claiming that there are insurance problems particularly public liability insurance. This is a totally invalid claim, if the child is on authorised leave the child is the responsibility of the parent and not the school and is therefore not in the care of the school and thus not subject to the school insurance liability.
- Some head teachers see these arrangements as a temporary measure, expecting the child to return to full time education after a term or two, even where the parents have specifically stated that they are intending it to be a long term arrangement because it is benefiting the child’s needs.