Is flexi-schooling legal?

While there is an absolute right both to school placement and to Elective Home Education, there is no right to flexi-schooling; Head teachers may refuse to agree to requests. There is no specific appeal against the decision of a Head teacher not to agree to a flexi-schooling request.

Recording flexi-schooling on attendance registers

Schools must mark the register code C (authorised absence) where pupils are home educated during school hours. The GOV.UK web page containing the Home Education Guidelines says "Pupils who are being flexi-schooled should be marked as absent from school during the periods when they are receiving home education."

How should a request for flexi-schooling be made?

If a parent/carer is interested in making such a request, the Head teacher of the child’sactual or prospective school should be contacted so that the proposal may be considered. Children who attend part-time under a flexi-schooling arrangement are subject to the same school admission processes as other children and are counted in the same way as a child who attends full-time for the purposes of the infant class size regulations.

Ultimately it will be the decision of the Head teacher as to whether he or she is willing to enter into an agreement with the parent/carer. The governing body may be involved in agreeing and reviewing a general approach to requests for flexi-schooling but this does not exempt the Head teacher from the need to consider each request individually. The whole governing body should not become involved in individual cases and cannot overturn a Headteacher’s decision. However the governing body will have a clearly defined role if a complaint is made.

 

What should parents/carers consider?

  • The implications of making partial educational provision at home are significant, both in terms of expertise and resources and in the commitment to make a shared provision work. The education provided at home and at school should together constitute full- time.

  • While there is no statutory curriculum for the home education part of a flexi-schooling arrangement, parents/carers will need to be mindful of the impact on the child’s access to the National (or Academy) Curriculum and the possible fragmentation of the learning experience.

  • Flexi-schooling is unlikely to be successful if the reasons for choosing it are negative and the choice is motivated by the desire to avoid difficulties around certain subjects, teachers, peers, aspects of school discipline or attendance itself.

  • Flexi-schooling does not give an alternative means of opting out of an element of the curriculum with which a child, for whatever reason, is uncomfortable.

  • The child may find that his or her limited attendance makes it difficult to maintain strong relationships with peers and may experience an element of social exclusion

  • If the child moves to a different school, there will be no guarantee that flexi-schooling will be able to continue. This will be a decision for the new Head teacher.

 

What should Headteachers consider?

  • Safeguarding the child is of paramount importance.

  • There is no opt-out for schools with regards to the National (Academy) Curriculum based

    on a flexi-schooling proposal. Although the child is not attending all school sessions, the school will still need to ensure that the child has appropriate access to the National (Academy) Curriculum. The child cannot be dis-applied from statutory curriculum or assessment arrangements simply because flexible attendance has been agreed.

  • Children should be recorded as absent when not in school. The C code (authorised absence) must be used, which will affect the school's overall absence and attendance figures. If the child is unable to attend a home based session because of illness, then thisshould be reflected in the school’s register, parent/carer should inform the school.

  • Where the National Curriculum is delivered through cross-curricular activities, arrangements made with the parent/carer would need to protect the cohesion of thechild’s experience.

  • There may be resource implications; effective co-ordination will require time and, although there is no obligation to do so, the school may well decide that it will need to provide some materials so that learning can keep pace with that of other children.

  • Arrangements for flexi-schooling may make both the identification of SEN and the meeting of those needs more difficult to secure.

  • Where a child has a statement of SEN or EHCP, the decision must be taken in conjunction with the local authority. Where flexi-schooling is agreed for a child with a statement/EHCP, this should be recorded on the statement/EHCP and progress monitored through the usual annual review process.

  • Since the child remains on the school roll, the school retains the responsibility for thechild’s progress and for tracking that progress.

  • Schools should be mindful of the possible effects on others; there may be amisapprehension that the school “approves” of the apparently high absence levels of aparticular child.

  • The school receives full funding for flexi-schooled children and they must be included in all census returns.

  • The responsibility for the arrangement lies with the school and not the Local Authority and schools will need to work with parents to address any issues which arise.

The agreement with parents/carers

  • In all cases where flexi-schooling is agreed, it is recommended that the school has a written agreement with the parents/carers so that expectations and arrangements are clear for both parties. Such an agreement is likely to include:

  • The normal expected pattern of attendance at school.

  • Procedures for flexibility around special events which fall outside the normal

    arrangement.

  • How the register will be marked.

  • That the school will follow up any unexpected or unexplained absence in the same way

    as it does for other children.

  • Arrangements at times of assessment.

  • Agreement that if a parent/carer chooses to employ other people to educate their child

    at home, they will be responsible for making sure that those whom they engage are

    suitable to have access to children.

  • Details of any perceived special educational needs and associated provision.

  • Arrangements for regular planning and review meetings between parent/carer and

    school to ensure the child achieves his/her potential and to promote good home-school

    relationships.

  • Clarity about the circumstances under which, and with what notice, either party can

    withdraw from the arrangement.

  • The arrangements for the resolution of any disputes (usual processes are for disputes to

    be resolved at the most informal level possible, but ultimately any complaints will need to be considered by the Head teacher first and then the governing body as set out underthe school’s complaints procedures).

When the Home Education component is unsuitable

  • Neither the LA nor the school have a statutory duty to monitor the quality of home education on a routine basis. However, if it appears to the school that parents/carers are not providing a suitable education as agreed between the school and the parent/carer, the school may ask the parent/carer to take remedial action.

  • If the parent/carer declines to do so or the school is still concerned about the provision of education at home, the school may withdraw its agreement to the flexi-schooling arrangement. The child would then be required to attend at school on a full-time basis.

  • A school attendance order would not be appropriate as the child is on the roll of a school.

In conclusion

  • The decision to embark upon a period of flexi-schooling should never be taken lightly. It should only be considered when the reasons for doing so are entirely positive. A parent/carer must be confident that he or she can meet the educational needs of the child fully and a school mindful of the fact that, if arrangements are agreed, the school will retain the responsibility for the child’s progress.

© 2019 Network Interventions. Created by Six Sells.

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