What is Flexi
Flexi 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.
Is flexischooling the same as Home Education?
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.
Why do families opt for Flexischooling
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,
A staged return to school after an absence for
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.
Is flexischooling a right?
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.
The Legal Position
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.
Your proposal should address the following:
- 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).
Best interests and welfare of the child.
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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
How popular is Flexischooling?
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,
(around 2015) CPE has offered assistance flexischooling has started
to grow in popularity.
The publication of CPE's Flexischooling Handbook (published
by EHP 201) 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
What to do next?
I would strongly advise anyone considering flexischooling
to join the support forum below.
A longer, fuller examination of flexischooling can be found
in the book: