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
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
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
- 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, (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 poor choices.