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 as parent.
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 parents.
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
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
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
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.