What is Flexi Schooling?
Flexi Schooling describes an arrangement between the parent and school where children are registered at the school in the usual way but attend school only part time. The rest of the time the child is home educated.
There may be any of a number of reasons why parents may want to arrange flexi schooling for their children, for example:
A desire to home educate while making use of school for some subjects
A staged return to school after an absence for some reason
Flexi schooling can allow all kinds of advantages for parent and child. It can mean that a child has access to resources either difficult or impossible to access from home and allow participation in sports activities as well as accessing specialist tuition that the family may not be able to offer. It can also enable the parent responsible for education to take part time work outside the home.
Flexi-schooling can be a perfect home-school compromise: children have access to specialist educators and resources they might not have at home plus they can join in parts of the timetable such as PE. They get opportunities to work and socialise with their own peer group, and will have the chance to join in with activities such as school trips and plays.
Children who have difficulties attending school full-time, for example because of illness or emotional or behavioural needs, have the opportunity to follow a reduced timetable but without being removed from the school environment altogether – a big advantage for parents who hope that, eventually, their child will be able to return to regular education.
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 are able to obtain 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:
"In this section '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 this refers to the Head teacher. To arrange flexi schooling therefore you should prepare a proposal and set up a meeting with the head teacher. Whether or not it is allowed is entirely up to the head teachers discretion. The head teacher 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 LA for their opinion as the head teacher may not have previously encountered flexi-schooling and will want to discuss the legal implications.
Also s175 of the Education Act 2002 states:
(1)A local education authority shall make arrangements for ensuring that the functions conferred on them in their capacity as a local education authority are exercised with a view to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children.
(2)The governing body of a maintained school shall make arrangements for ensuring that their functions relating to the conduct of the school are exercised with a view to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children who are pupils at the school.
This section has wide implications and, basically means that the school and LA must look at the wider picture than just the child’s education. If there is a case for allowing flexi schooling, in the best interests of the child’s welfare, then both the LA and school must consider it.
Your proposal should include a paragraph stating that as the child will be in your care and absent from school there are no insurance implications for the school, how flexi schooling is in the best interests of the child and how you see the arrangement working in practice and specifically how you intend to ensure that your child will not miss out both educationally and socially.
The responsibility to ensure that the child is receiving a full time education remains, as always, with the parent. Though the LA may want to ensure itself that the child's education is suitable to the child's age ability and aptitude and any special needs s/he may have (as per section 7 of the education Act 1996).