Flexi-schooling: what is it?


Flexi-schooling is a term used for an arrangement whereby a child is partly educated at school and partly home educated.

In this article, we explain what flexi-schooling is, aspects to consider and look at different approaches from schools on flexi-schooling.

Flexi-schooling: what is it?

Home Education UK explains that flexi-schooling is an arrangement between the parent and school where children are registered at the school in the usual way but attend school part time. For the rest of the time, the child is home educated. 

There may be any of number of reasons why parents may want to arrange flexi- schooling for their children, for example:

  • Illness
  • A desire to home educate while making use of school for some subjects
  • School phobia/refusal
  • Allowing time for a special ability, such as music, sport etc
  • A staged return to school after an absence for some reason 

Home Education UK explains that 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 444(9)

Considerations when considering flexi-schooling

Essex County Council explains that aside from the impact that a flexi-schooling arrangement will have on a school’s overall absence levels, the implications of agreeing 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 school should, together, constitute a full-time, suitable education.

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, and peers or aspects of school discipline or attendance itself.

Flexi-schooling should not be seen as a means of opting out of an element of the curriculum with which a child, for whatever reason, is uncomfortable.

The child may find that their limited attendance makes it difficult to maintain strong relationships with peers and may experience an element of social exclusion. If a child moves to a different school, there will be no guarantee that flexi-schooling will be able to continue. This will be a decision that the headteacher of the new school will be required to make.

Where a child has an Education Health and Care plan (EHCP) the decision to agree flexi-schooling must be taken in conjunction with the local authority. We have published another article which provides an overview of EHCPs.

Flexi-schooling examples from schools

Hollinsclough Church of England Academy was the first school in England to introduce flexi-schooling in 2009. It explains: 

“We offer flexi-schooling to support families who have chosen the elective home education route to educate their child or children. Through the experience we have gained over the last ten years we have developed an approach that ensures our lessons are delivered creatively, with a view to engage at all levels, and as our pupils progress they develop an appreciation of the beauty and power available through learning, along with a sense of enjoyment and curiosity in all subjects.”

The school offers telephone support to all schools considering flexi-schooling on a one-off basis.

Huxley Primary School provides flexi-schooling to its pupils. It explains that:

“Flexi-schooling is particularly well adapted to a small rural school. The pupils may be returning to school after a period of home schooling and the transition is easier than in an urban-based school with large numbers. Reintegration into an environment which has developed a greater personalisation, responding to the challenges of the post covid pandemic.”

The school’s offer is 3 full core days Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

You can read their flexi-schooling policy for more practical details.

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