Flexischooling – England and Wales
The information on this website applies to flexischooling as exists in England and Wales (in some sections the idea will be explored further as to what it could be and do)
Flexischooling is an arrangement where a learner is registered at school and has a full-time education, but is educated part in a school setting (primary or secondary) and part elsewhere (commonly home-based). It can be a long or short-term arrangement. Flexischooling is a local agreement between the school (head teacher) and families. It is a legal option but, there is no right to flexischool. This is at the discretion of the school (head teacher). The legal framework is outlined here.
The situation in Scotland is different and readers should consult the current Scottish home education law and guidance where flexischooling is referred to.
There are examples of flexischooling across the age-range and in a variety of diverse settings. In some, flexischoolers will be just one or two children in others flexischoolers will be in greater numbers up to and including those where the majority of pupils are flexischooled and where the setting can justifiably be labelled as a flexischool.
Part-time schooling pre-compulsory school age.
Flexischooling is not to be conflated with part-time schooling prior to compulsory school age. This is a parental right and must be accommodated by schools (see Admissions Code (Dec 2014) Section 2.16)).
Learners are registered as full-time with the school and as such are fully-funded. Schools have the budgetary resource to ensure flexischooling can work effectively.
The Flexischooling Continuum
Flexischooling (like personalisation) sits along a continuum. At its shallow end and simplest it is a basic flexitime arrangement where the school-based and home-based learning are discrete and continue as ‘normal’. The mainstream system has traditionally accommodated this to some extent with nursery/early years’ provision. There are also examples of some secondary phase schools who offer flexitime contracts with various students who earn the right to study away from school for periods.
In the USA, flexible week arrangements in Independent Study Programmes (ISPs) use specially trained staff who negotiate timetables with families. So, even at this superficial end of the continuum the concept begins to question some basic assumptions of schooling, accepting…
- a single location is not essential
- parents can have an active role
- children / young people can learn without teachers being present
- facilitating learning is as much part of teaching as formal instruction
- resources at home/elsewhere both physical and virtual can be utilised
- uniqueness of individuals / individual learning styles can be respected and accommodated
At the radical and more transformational end of the spectrum deep flexischooling goes further in confronting notions about schooling and its view of learning. As such, it has very strong links to deep personalisation (as opposed to the government’s weaker version of personalisation described as ‘tailoring’). Deep flexischooling like deep personalisation recognises the rapidly changing world, the ubiquitous availability and ease of knowledge access, the complexities of life and behaviour. It recognises rigid people do not cope, flexible people have a better chance. Behaviour in the modern world is so complex. Sometimes we need authoritarian behaviour (knowing when to take orders/give them), sometimes times we need self- managing skills of autonomous behaviours and at yet at other times the cooperative skills of democratic behaviour. The world is multidimensional whilst our schools for the most part are unidimensional offering predominantly authoritarian experiences.
Flexibility in all dimensions then, is the key – for example the idea of curriculum. Schooling takes curriculum for granted as the National Curriculum with its pre-ordained age-stage progressions and assessments. Yet it is, in reality, just one curriculum offer. It is in effect part of a wider Catalogue Curriculum available from variety of countries and organisations across the globe (Examples would be access to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Open Access courses or equally a Duke of Edinburgh Award etc.). Additionally, there is of course a Natural Curriculum which is the learning chosen by self-managed and autonomous learners. It may or may not include elements from the Catalogue. Radical flexischools can begin to explore these dimensions by supporting the learners in their navigation through curricular options and progressions. Rather than the predictable current 4-19 Pathways learners can identify much more flexible learning episodes and journeys at a pace and timescale dictated by their own needs.
Links to pages in this Flexischooling Menu