Between home education and full-time school is the world of flexischooling. This seemingly sensible compromise has been ideal for some families for numerous reasons, including a child with special needs or one recovering from illness.
It means, in practice, some of the child’s teaching happens at home but they come to school for the rest.
Not that controversial, you’d have thought – especially when you consider that every child’s needs are different and, surely, everyone involved with that child is primarily concerned with what’s best for them.
And you’d imagine one fewer child in a classroom on a predictable day and time would simply mean more resources for the remaining children.
Apparently the reality for parents seeking flexischooling in England is very different.
For a long time the situation was at the discretion of the head teacher. A pupil would be registered (and funded) at the school and their ‘absence’ to be taught at home, would be marked on the register as ‘off-site teaching’.
Earlier this year the Department of Education changed their policy and, for a while, stated: “The Government has looked at this issue and takes a different stance from that of the previous Government. It does not believe that a hybrid arrangement between home education and mainstream school is adequately provided for in law, or in the school funding system, for children of compulsory school age.”
This was seen as an outright ban and caused outrage. However, the Government then capitulated a little and now flexischooling is permitted, however, schools must mark the home element as an absence.
Now current arrangements can continue, and new ones may be forged, but the schools where it happens will see their attendance figures adversely affected by these absences.
As one commentator said: “In the increasingly competitive world of state education, what head teacher is going to tolerate the effect this will have on their statistics.”
This does seem like the detail has been devilled to deter the practice of flexischooling from taking place.
And it’s hard to understand how a practice that was, only a couple of years ago hailed as the new way has become so apparently unwelcome.
However, everything would appear to be still up in the air as the DoE is promising to review their guidance his summer.
For parents who rely on flexischooling to provide the best for their children, this remains a worrying time and for those who believe the establishment is ideologically opposed to anything but mainstream teaching, this is simply further evidence.
As an outsider, it’s hard to see why this middle way should be quite so fraught when it could provide an effective solution for so many children.
Money, for once, can’t be the main reason for such difficulties, as one fewer pupil in school – for however long must surely safe a few pounds.
Whatever the reason, for the sake of the children this affects a workable, dare we say flexible, solution must be found soon.
The Ed Yourself home education consultancy has lots of up-to-date information.