Is Flexischooling Legal in England?
The simple answer is yes, although lots of people, including teachers, parents and school governors, believe that it isn’t.
What is Flexischooling?
Flexischooling is an arrangement whereby children of compulsory school age receive their education partially at school, and partially elsewhere under the supervision of their parents.
Is Flexischooling the same as part time education?
No, part time education is only allowed in law as a temporary solution to a specific problem (usually for medical or mental health reasons or for integrating a pupil into a new situation).
Flexischooling is different. Flexischooling provides children with a full time education although not all of it will occur in school. It can be a temporary or permanent arrangement and may be requested for a wide variety of reasons.
Under what circumstances is flexischooling allowed?
Schools may agree to parental applications for flexischooling regardless of the qualifications of the parents or their reasons for choosing flexischooling. Legally flexischooling can commence when a private arrangement is reached between the school and the parent which fulfils the attendance register requirements of The Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 regulation 6, and when the school is satisfied that the child will receive a suitable, full time education overall.
The Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 regulation 6(4))
(4) An approved educational activity is either—
(a)an activity which takes place outside the school premises and which is—
(i)approved by a person authorised in that behalf by the proprietor of the school;
(ii)of an educational nature, including work experience under section 560 of the Education Act 1996(1) and a sporting activity; and
(iii)supervised by a person authorised in that behalf by the proprietor or the head teacher of the school; or
(b)attendance at another school at which the pupil is a registered pupil.
Will flexischooling affect the school’s funding?
No, because the funding is currently applied to a place at a school not the number of hours the child attends. Therefore schools currently receive the same funding for flexischooled pupils as they would for a child receiving all of his/her education in school.
What if the child has special educational needs?
Flexischooling is a legal and viable option for all children regardless of SEN, even if the child has an EHC plan or SEN statement, or attends a special school. Sometimes flexischooling is written into the plan as the appropriate provision for the child.
Does the National Curriculum Apply?
Yes to the school based part but not necessarily the non-school based part. In law, the national curriculum does not apply to the non-school based part of the education of a flexischooled child unless this was part of the arrangement/agreement between the school and the parent.
What about SATs?
SATs are a statutory requirement for schools so the normal rules apply and the child will be expected to sit them all.
How does Ofsted view flexischooling?
To the best of our knowledge no school has been marked down for allowing flexischooling. The schools we are aware of that have the majority of the children on roll subject to a flexischooling arrangement have been praised for their provision and meeting of the children’s individual needs.
What about safeguarding?
Safeguarding is the responsibility of the parents or of any person acting in loco parentis. Essentially, whilst the child is at school the school is responsible for safeguarding. At all other times the parent is responsible unless the child is being cared for/educated by somebody else. For example, if a child is at a swimming lesson the swimming pool staff are responsible for safeguarding. The school cannot legally be held responsible for the welfare of the child in the part of the school day where the child is by agreement not in school.
How is Flexischooling recorded in the register?
There are currently two options:
Where the child is part time educated at school and part time electively home educated (i.e., with neither oversight nor approval from the school) then the registration mark used is “C” – authorised absence – for the non-school sessions. Naturally this affects the attendance figures of the school, which can be problematic, but Ofsted takes the stance that so long as the pupils are educated that is what is important.
Where the arrangements meet the criteria for “Off-site educational activity” (see The Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 regulation 6(4)) then a “B” code can be used which does not affect attendance figures.
Code B: Off-site educational activity
This code should be used when pupils are present at an off-site educational activity that has been approved by the school. Ultimately schools are responsible for the safeguarding and welfare of pupils educated off-site. Therefore by using code B, schools are certifying that the education is supervised and measures have been taken to safeguard pupils. This code should not be used for any unsupervised educational activity or where a pupil is at home doing school work. Schools should ensure that they have in place arrangements whereby the provider of the alternative activity notifies the school of any absences by individual pupils. The school should record the pupil’s absence using the relevant absence code.
In order to meet these criteria the school must authorise the parent to provide the education, and possibly also approve the education that will be taking place. This authorisation and approval may be granted on a termly or annual basis through a meeting or exchange of reports between the school and the parent.
In summary, if the school have authorised the parents to manage the education taking place in the session, or have approved the education planned to take place then “B” can be used, otherwise a “C” must be used.
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