Summary information for head teachers.
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).
Why Flexischooling? Families may approach schools for a variety of reasons. They can be philosophical where they’d like to play a more active role in their children’s education and promote more self-managed interests and learning. Many feel that formal schooling begins far too early in the UK. They may have painfully pragmatic reasons because their children have failed to thrive in schools – they may be gifted, have developmental or special needs, have been inadequately supported, be vulnerable, have emotional needs, learn best in different ways, have ongoing illness and so on.
Flexischooling demand. Flexischooling has been around but under the radar since the 1980s. More recently, a surge in interest has occurred. With the background of ever more standardisation and rigidity in schooling families have looked to a more flexible, personalised and suitable education for their children and young people combining schooling with home-based learning.
Flexischooling 5-19. 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)).
Funding. 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.
Curriculum. The learner follows the National Curriculum when in school. While the home base education may follow the National Curriculum, it is not a requirement.
Flexischooling model. There are no fixed flexischooling models. Arrangements are designed to best meet the needs of each child and the contexts and resources of schools. The ratio of time and access to specific areas of curriculum is decided by agreement.
Assessments. These are agreed between school and families and will reflect the character and form of the learning the learner receives from the home base.
Contract. Roles and responsibilities are set out with an agreed contract between school and families. These will cover things like curriculum, oversight of home-based learning, arrangements for assessment, special needs, welfare and safeguarding, flexibilities regarding special events, review and so on. Suggested templates are available (see the following documents***************and the flexischooling website *****************)
Attendance Codes. As yet, there is no perfect solution accommodating flexischooling in terms of recording attendance. Currently schools can use code B or C. Some local authorities will have their own particular view but ultimately schools must use discretion and satisfy themselves of the best fit for their circumstances taking both the law and attendance guidelines (link+section ref) into consideration. This has been confirmed by communications with the Department for education (DfE).
Termination. The arrangement can be ended by either party provided reasonable notice is given. Terminating flexischooling at one setting does not automatically mean the learner will go full-time. Families may choose to opt for full-time schooling, move elsewhere and negotiate flexischooling again or adopt full-time home based education.
Special Needs. Schools have the same responsibilities as they have for any registered pupil with special needs. Clearly provision will need to reflect the model of flexischooling being operated.
Ofsted. Flexischooling has been positively acknowledged and had no detrimental impact on inspection. Schools who have a majority of their children as flexischoolers have done very well.
Why should schools consider taking flexischoolers?
Pragmatism. Schools will be entitled to full funding whatever the balance of school / home-based learning; increased rolls / sustainability (flexischooling is a proven replicable opportunity to build capacity and create sustainable local schools and communities). A proportion of flexischoolers will go on to take full-time places.
Philosophical reasons. Teachers want to make a difference, to change lives and develop communities. Meeting the needs of individual learners is at its heart. Flexischooling changes lives and has proven to be effective for a range of children and young people. Flexi-parents are usually passionate and highly committed, willing to work in partnership and support settings.
Pedagogy. Experience shows that home-based learners and flexischoolers can bring new dimensions and qualities to the classroom. Flexischoolers often have greater independence and self-management, high levels of thinking, oracy and questioning skills, creativity and persistence. Those settings with larger numbers of flexischoolers have explored high level pedagogical approaches with project based, enquiry-led, research approaches, online e-learning and blended support and so on. The arrival of flexischoolers has prompted curriculum and learning developments.
Progress and achievement. Flexischooling is win:win for parents, learner and school. Like full-time home-based learners, flexischoolers will usually go beyond schooling time frames flexibly utilising evenings, weekends and year-round experiences. Normal spectrum and gifted learners can devote sufficient time to their passions and dispositions. Evidence is strongly pointing that autistic spectrum learners can benefit with the flexischooling balance. Other developmental, maturation, physical, learning and emotional needs appear better accommodated by flexischooling. Struggling children can have beneficial one to one time at home. Schools often find that flexischoolers lead to overall gains in their performance and value added data.
Learner. ‘Our teachers are creative and they always make lessons fun!’
‘Flexischooling means I can see more of my mum and we can do loads of really interesting things like go to museums!’
‘My teacher really understands us all.’
Parents. The school offers… ‘Flexibility, and appreciation for family life and a respect for learning outside school.’
‘You have given him time, space and support to reach his potential and you have accepted him for who he is…’
‘None of our local schools will give her advance tuition for maths and science, so full-time school is not a choice. Flexischooling seems like an option for the very bright child like mine.’
‘… she is self-directing… We have evolved into an autonomously educating family and we all LOVE it!’
School teacher. ‘… from my own teaching experience, I can see other benefits of flexischooling. I feel full-time school does not allow enough time for child-led learning, nor creative activities, which I believe are very important to a child’s development.’
Head teacher. ‘… we work closely with parents and view our children’s education as a partnership. This is the basis for flexischooling.’
‘Our community is enriched by a new vibrancy and buzz of activity. Our flexischooled children have brought new experiences, perspectives, creativity and talents to our school.’
‘The families of our flexischooled children have also bought a new layer of positive input. It is my experience that parents of flexischooled children have a very thoughtful and conscientious approach to their children’s education. They care deeply about how their children will develop as individuals and they want to play a very active part in that process. … This group of adults is also very talented in their own right and they have freely given their time and talents…’
Ofsted ‘the school is a leading exponent of the concept of flexischooling.’
‘… Good teaching enables pupils from a wide range of backgrounds and abilities to learn successfully.’
‘The school enjoys a high reputation among parents who are consulted regularly.’
‘Pupils make good progress because of the effective combination of formal, informal and one-to-one teaching,’
‘The flexi-school timetable, used to allow individual pupils to be partly home-educated, works very well.’