No, families can only flexischool with the permission
of the proprietor of the school, normally that is the Head Teacher.
There is no appeal on the head teachers decision.
Despite the fact that s7 of the Education act 1996
clearly says that education is always the responsibility of the
parents, if the child is registered at a school the school can
override the parents wishes. This is an anomily. If parents are
always legally responsible for the child's education, then clearly
this responsibility should carry with it the rights necissary to
carry fulfil that responsibility.
The current situation is untenable, legally confused.
It userps the parents right to make decisions instead placing academics,
local authorities and senior teachers in their place. The state
The result of this is that in the absence of the
right to flexischool many parents fully home educate instead. This
can have devistating consequences on families who need to give
up paid employment to do so.
The alternative is that many children are being
forced to remain full time in school when they would otherwise
prefer, at least , some time learning from home. Given that there
is acknowledgement that there is a mental health crisis with which
the state failing to cope, (CAHMS has waiting lists of up to three
years in some areas) it makes sense. Particularly in the year 2020-21
when children will be returning to full time school after a break
of about five months.
Schooling describes an arrangement between the parents and
school where children are registered at the school in the usual
way but, by arrangement with the school are educated both at
school and away from the premises under the supervision of the
Not quite. Elective home education is where children
are not registered at any school, with flexischooling the children,
obviously, remains registered. This means the child is still subject
to all the rules that other school children and their families
are subject to (see below). Flexischooled children will need to
take SATs and follow the school curriculum, particularly the national
curriculum if in a state school. Although, there is flexibility
with respect to what is taught and how it is taught when the children
are not in school.
There may be any of 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
Allowing time for a special ability, such as
music, sport etc.
A staged 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.
Flexischooling is not part time education,
which would be illegal in the UK where all children of CSA must
receive a suitable, full time education. Flexischooling is always
by agreement with the school and the child receives a full time
education, partly on the school premises and partly elsewhere under
the supervision and care of their parents. 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 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
In practice this normally 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.
- As the child will be in your care and absent
from school there are no insurance implications for the school,
- In what ways flexi schooling is in the best interests
of the child
- How you see the arrangement working in practice
- 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).
s175 of the Education Act 2002 states:
- 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.
- 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 rather
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.
If it can be made to work, 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. Primarily it
offers a highly flexible education, responsive to the child’s individual
needs and interests enabling the family to respond to opportunities
as they arise in a way that schools would, at best, find challenging.
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 effecting
the schools league table position. This issue must also be considered,
and a solution found that works for all parties.
- The same as above applies to GCSE's. 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 be reluctant to allow flexischooling.
- Discipline - schools sometimes
anticipate there being discipline problems should one child be
seen by other pupils failing to attend lessons s/he doesn't want
to attend. The school may anticipate further requests or demands
for this arrangement.
- The LA will often not approve
of the idea. 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 LA. Ultimately the head
teacher may decide that s/he does not want to antagonise the
LA - who is after all their employer.
- Many school Head Teachers see
Flexi schooling as a temporary arrangement as part of a staged
return to school following some difficulty like school refusal
(school phobia), a death in the family or an illness. They seem
to fail to understand that, even when explicitly discussed, some
families really do prefer home education/flexischooling to full
time school and will continue to do so into the future.
- A number of schools resist agreeing to flexi
schooling arrangements claiming that there are insurance problems
particularly public liability insurance. This is a totally untrue.
A child on authorised leave is the responsibility of the parent
and not in the care of the school and thus not subject to the
school insurance liability.
- New Advice from the DfE indicates that the DfE
now believes Flexischooling to be illegal. However, this guidance
was revised without consultation, contrary to civil service guidance.
Flexischooling has been around for some time. It
was promoted by Roland Meighan back in the 1990s and HE UK web
site carried an article about it from 2000. The DfE quoted from
that page from 2003 in their guidance to home educators. Since
then it has grown but not really taken off in the way that home
education has. Although recently, (since around 2015) CPE has offered
assistance, flexischooling has started to grow in popularity.
The publication of CPE's Flexischooling Handbook
(published by EHP) has given it something of a further boost.
The problem was that legal guidance was difficult to find. Head
teachers could refuse to consider it, without giving a reason and
local authorities were, and largely remain, ill informed about
it. Despite these issues, by the end of 2019, the network knew
of more than 60
schools supporting at least one child being flexischooled.
With about one third of those with multiple children being flexischooled.
Some, remote, rural schools had realised that by
highlighting flexischooling as an option attracted parents from
a wider area often staving off the threat of closure while enabling
expansion without major capital outlay. This is good for the school,
the local community and all the children attending the school.
Another driving force for flexischooling is the lack of adequate
funding for SEN children.
Schools have been placed under tremendous pressure
to perform while being starved of funding. This has led a number
of schools to off-role children with special needs, particularly
those waiting for assessments. Other schools have chosen to allow
flexischooling as a way of addressing this problem. This appears
to be a popular option among some parents while others see it as
the best option among several poor choices.