Flexi Schooling And Your Child's Education
As parents, you – not the state – are responsible for ensuring that your child, if they are of compulsory school age, is properly educated. This does not necessarily need to be undertaken through attendance at school. However, if you do want your child to attend a state-funded school then you can request this and your local authority has to find your child one of make alternative arrangements for the education of your child.
Every child that we work with is completely different from the next, as is every family. Our therapeutic programmes and our education programmes therefore differs from learner to learner, as they are designed completely around the child/teen/young adult, their family and their strengths and struggles. This means that who has legal responsibility for the child’s education differs from programme to programme. In the UK, regardless of where and how you choose for your child to be educated, the overall responsibility for that education is that of the parents. In the UK, however, the Local Authority allows you to choose them to deliver this education and therefore be responsible for it. The Local Authority can do this in a number of ways. They can provide a full time education through:
A LA maintained mainstream school
A LA maintained special needs school or other organisation or institution
Flexi schooling through part time home and part time school (either agreed through the EHCP in England or an IDP/ALN Code in Wales or agreed with school)
Flexi schooling through part time home and part time alternative provider, through a team like us which is either agreed through the EHCP in England or an IDP/ALN Code in Wales or agreed directly with school
Fully at home and outlined in an EHCP in England or an IDP/ALN Code in Wales.
A completely bespoke provision, outlined in an EHCP in England or an IDP/ALN Code in Wales.
In the above situations, the overall responsibility for your child’s education lies with the LA: ie. The buck stops with them BUT they will have an agreement with the main provider of your child’s education so in reality the accountability is with that provider.
Under the authority of the LA, this is who has real time responsibility depending on where your child receives their day to day education:
A LA maintained mainstream school Your child’s education is their responsibility
A LA maintained special needs school or other organisation or institution Your child’s education is their responsibility
Flexi schooling through part time home and part time school (either agreed through the EHCP in England or an IDP/ALN Code in Wales or agreed with school) You will have agreed areas of responsibility or co-responsibility
Flexi schooling through part time home and part time alternative provider, through a team like us which is either agreed through the EHCP in England or an IDP/ALN Code in Wales or agreed directly with school Day to day responsibility will be a co-responsibility between you and that provider (they will be named on provision documents)
Fully at home and outlined in an EHCP in England or an IDP/ALN Code in Wales. You will be responsible and be reporting to the LA. It may be that you engage an alternative provider, or tutors/therapists, to implement specific education components or therapeutic components and outline their responsibilities with them
A completely bespoke provision, outlined in an EHCP in England or an IDP/ALN Code in Wales. The responsibility will lie within your EHCP
An approved alternative education provider (like us). The responsibility will be that of the provider
A non approved alternative education provider. The responsibilities will be clearly outlined in the EHCP but will likely fall with you.
It may be that you do not choose for the LA to exercise this educational authority and that you choose to provide or organise the education yourself. You can do this in a number of ways. You could:
Pay an independent school for your child to attend there. The independent school will be responsible for the provision.
Provide the education completely yourself. There is no specific way that you need to do this and you do not need to follow the national curriculum. There are lots of different approaches to home education, with the current legislation being that you need to provide your child with an efficient full time education which is suitable
a) to your child’s age, ability and aptitude and
b) to any special educational needs they may have
It should suit their interests, character and personality
Some families choose to educate their child at home either part time or full time because when their child was at school, they were not able to access the education and therefore were not in receipt of a full time education.
Use an alternative provider to design and deliver your child’s education. It is dependent on the provider as to whether they are regulated or what their policies are and who holds responsibility for the education.
Use an alternative provider (such as us) or tutors, online tuition/classes, college to provide part of your child’s education. You will be responsible still, although of course the components provided by others will usually have responsibility taken for by the professional(s).
Who will fund my child’s programme or education?
This is dependent upon the agreement you have in place with your local authority. At the moment 70% of our programmes are either partially or fully funded by the child’s local authority. Some of our families choose to do things independently and some applications are made after a few months to a year of evidence that our programmes are working really beautifully for your child, with meaningful outcomes.
What does being an approved alternative education provider mean?
Where some children’s needs are not being met in a mainstream environment, the local authority will choose for a child’s education and/or therapeutic input to be provided elsewhere. They have a list of alternative providers who can provide this intervention and education, and for many local authorities we are on that list. We are a ‘preferred approved alternative education provider’ for one of the largest local authorities in England. This simply means that we have a really fab track record and that we have passed the appropriate checks and ‘due diligence’ to have our programmes funded, where it thought appropriate or best. Where we are not known to a local authority or funding provider, we have everything in place to be able to provide them with the information they need to run their due diligence checks. It may be that your child’s local authority and you disagree about who should be providing your child’s intervention or education. That is okay. It does not mean that you will end up in court or with life long battles, which I am sure you have heard horror stories about. It may be that you agree to disagree and that you get the same level of funding the LA would apply for your child to attend elsewhere, but you choose to use this to educate them in a different way. We forge excellent relationships with schools and with local authorities, and we are not a team who ‘battle’. We are an extremely experienced team with the legal knowledge to best support your child. Our aim is always to find resolution through relationship.
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).