I am often asked what the difference is between a flexi-schooling arrangement and a part-time table.
Flexi Schooling Arrangements are generally requested by the parent and agreed by the school. It is entirely legal for a parent to request that their child spends part of the week being educated at school and part of the week at home (having a suitable education provided by the parent).
Flexi-Schooling is not the same as elective home education. In the case of a child who is electively home educated, the responsibility for the education rests solely with the parent and they must provide an education which is sufficient to the child’s age, aptitude and ability.
Flexi-Schooling may be requested by a parent for a number of reasons. For example, the child may be a talented sports person and flexi-schooling may allow them to attend elite coaching sessions or competitions. Similarily, parents may make the request in order to deliver part of the child’s education which they wish to provide e.g. for faith or cultural reasons. Flexi-Schooling should not be seen as only available to gifted and talented children but should be based on the individual merits of the arrangement being suggested.
In the case of a flexi-school arrangement the Headteacher, acting with the authority of the Governing Body or the Multi-Academy Trust must agree to the arrangement. When making a decision about whether to agree a flexi-school arrangement the Headteacher must consider the following:
- Whether continuity of learning between home and school can be maintained
- That the child is safeguarded throughout the arrangement
- That the arrangement does not effect school discipline or the morale/motivation of other children.
- The effect on school organisation and funding
- Peer relationships/support
Where it is apparent that the flexi-schooling arrangement is more about meeting the parent’s needs (e.g. unusual working patterns) than the child’s needs then flexi-schooling should not be agreed.
Where an arrangement is agreed, an agreement should be reached about how often the arrangement is reviewed as it may not be appropriate to agree a flexi-school arrangement long term.
Schools must also be aware that during the flexi-school arrangement they remain responsible for the child’s attendance and attainment. Absences for agreed flexi-schooling arrangements are coded as authorised (code C).
There is no appeal if the Headteacher does not agree to a flexi-school arrangement or decides to end the arrangement.
In contrast Reduced Timetables are normally requested by the school in response to the needs of individual children. Reduced timetables reduce the number of hours that a child is expected to attend school. These should only be used in exceptional circumstances as the DfE guidance states that all children are entitled to a full-time education.
Full-time education is defined as follows for children within various keystages:
KS1: 21 hours (Years 1 and 2)
KS2: 23.5 hours (Years 3 – 6)
KS3: 24 hours (Years 7 – 9)
KS4 (Yr 10): 24 hours
KS4 (Yr 11): 25 hours
The needs of children considered for a reduced timetable may include:
- Medical needs – where the child is suffering from, or recovering from a long term illness or medical condition.
- Reintegration needs – this could be following a period of exclusion, absence or school refusal.
- Or as part of a short term package to support a child who is struggling in a school setting, for example, as a result of behavioural or emotional needs.
Where a reduced timetable is suggested the parent must be in support of this. Reduced timetables can not be put into place without the agreement of the parent (and the child).
Where a child has an Education, Health, Care Plan (EHCP), it is also good practice to consult with the Local Authority regarding the appropriateness of the reduced timetable.
All reduced timetables should have a clear goal and be time limited and regularly reviewed.
Whilst a child is on a reduced timetable the safeguarding responsibility for the child remains with the school. Schools are therefore encouraged to complete a risk-assessment before placing a child on a reduced timetable. If the risk assessment suggests that the child would be at risk as a result of the reduction in timetable then a reduced timetable should not be used.
If the reduced timetable is being considered for a Child in Care then appropriate agreements should be sought from the Local Authority. Similarily, if the Child is known to social care then a multi-agency meeting should be held prior to the reduced timetable being agreed and the agreement of the social worker should be sought (particularly if the child has a child protection plan).
As the school are agreeing a reduction in timetable with the parent any absences must be authorised (coded C). Again, pupil attainment remains the responsibility of the school.
Where a reduced timetable is agreed then this should be monitored via a plan-do-review approach and should not run for any longer than necessary. During the time the child is on the reduced timetable schools must ensure that they have access to a well-rounded curriculum and that they are not being adversely impacted by not being in school full-time.