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What is Flexi-schooling?

By: Sarah Knowles BA, MA - Updated: 14 Mar 2023 | comments*Discuss
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Also known as flexible school attendance, flexi-schooling is a way in which children can attend school part-time – legally. It is estimated that about 450 pupils, mainly primary school students, were being flexi-schooled in the country in 2010, and that number is expected to grow rapidly.

Proponents of the scheme say it allows children to forge closer bonds with their parents, learn about subjects which pique their interest in-depth, and have the opportunity to broaden their minds outside the traditional classroom experience.

But opponents of flexi-schooling says it can be confusing for children, put them at a disadvantage when it comes to making school friends and taking standardised exams, and put undue pressure on parents, many of whom know nothing about teaching…

Is Flexi-Schooling Legal?

Flexi-schooling is usually considered a legal option for parents, but the headteacher at the school must agree to it. Such requirements or concerns the headteacher might voice could include:

  • Whether or not the child has met a specific attendance requirement.
  • Whether the child is due to take his or her SAT’s, although most flexis-schoolers agree to be in school during this time.
  • Concern over whether flexi-schoolers will affect the school’s absentee record, although if the child is registered as being schooled offsite, this will not happen. Schools will receive full funding for pupils who are being flexi-schooled.

In addition, while there is no statutory curriculum which parents must follow whilst educating their children at home, pupils must follow the National Curriculum when they are back in school.

This can be waived if they have a statement of special educational needs, on a temporary basis if they are ill or have a family crisis, or if they have special dispensation during a specific period to allow other types of curriculum development to take place.

Please note that if the school or local authority believes that the flexi-schooling arrangement at home is not suitable to the child’s needs, it is up to the parents to prove that it is.

How It Works

Parents usually approach their child’s teacher, and headteacher, with a proposal to flexi-school their child. It is highly recommended that parents provide a written proposal outlining the days the child will be schooled at home, and the days he or she will formally attend school.

The proposal could also include technicalities such as what provisions will be made if their flexi-school hours fall during assembly/school trip/school play times; provisions for unexplained absences, and how any possible disputes will be resolved.

Often, headteachers will give permission for flexi-schooling to take place only for a specified period of time, after which a review process will take place.

Advantages of Flexi-Schooling

Both parents and educators sit on both sides of the debate about whether flexi-schooling is a good idea. Some of the advantages of the scheme are that it:

  • Allows parents the opportunity to spend more time with their children.
  • Gives children the opportunity to learn more in-depth than they might at school, with more out-of-school trips and individual adult attention.
  • Gives younger or less mature children more time to adjust to school. Some parents feel their children are not ready to start full-time school when others do, and believe this gives them a time to catch up with their peers.
  • Allows children who are recovering for a protracted illness the freedom to start school again on a gradual basis.
  • Gives children who were home-schooled and want to eventually return to school full-time a way to do this slowly. Often, children who have been home-schooled find the transition to full-time school difficult to make, and flexi-schooling provides them with an easier transition period.

Disadvantages of Flexi-Schooling

Some of the perceived disadvantages of flexi-schooling could include:

  • Unfair on other children. Kids who attend school part-time might resent the fact that their peers do not have to attend five days a week, and get to participate in other activities such as museum and zoo outings while they are in the classroom.
  • Harder for child to re-acclimate to school. Children who find it difficult to adjust to school might find it even harder if they are allowed to spend several days a week at home with Mummy or Daddy.
  • Can affect the children’s standardised test scores, if they are not taught in the same way that the school teaches in preparation for exams/tests.
  • Can make it difficult for children to forge strong friendships at school as they may be absent when the friendships are forged.
  • Can become boring if a lot of imagination and creativity is not put into teaching – and learning.

Is Flexi-Schooling for You?

Flexi-schooling can work well for some children, if the parents have the time, energy and resources to devote to schooling their children part-time outside of a traditional school environment.

But flexi-schooling is not for everybody, and not every parent is suitable to teach children at home. Think long and hard if you are considering this option, and discuss it with other parents who have made the leap. It might revolutionise your child’s learning – or it might have the opposite effect!

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My 11 year old daughter along with the rest of her year 6 class have been victimised and verbally abused by their teacher since September 2022. It’s a well known fact at the school that she has been abusive to every class for several years but they have no interest in dealing with her.Several parents are discussing removing their children from school but with SATS coming up, Prom, school trips and treats, the children are reluctant to leave and tbh, they deserve a great time in their last year. Any ideas what we can do to get the school to either flexi educate or change the teacher? My next move is to talk to the Governers as my daughter has had to have therapy and the report blames the teacher for all of her anxiety issues.
raven - 14-Mar-23 @ 9:16 PM
My daughter has been bullied since primary school and this has followed her through to secondary school , the school she is in now doesn’t have a lot of patience for her , and her education has suffered , she get very angry that no one understands her needs , and in return Is treated by other kids as the class clown . I am now thinking of home school her to save her sanity but as working parents I don’t know how this would work .
Ray Ray - 22-Nov-22 @ 8:53 PM
A lot of questions here .... No Answers!
Sal - 9-Sep-22 @ 1:34 AM
I have a ten year old with auditory processor disorder, he copes with school only on a part time basis, the school won’t allow him to go part time is this legal?
Brad - 10-Jun-22 @ 6:05 PM
I have a 14 yr old autistic daughter who’s in full time education (main stream school) who’s really struggling as many things upset her at school to the point she became ill and missed a lot of school. She still wants to go school but on a part time basis and she would be schooled about 80% only home schooled for English ( where I was paying for a private tutor) but the school have now told me she either as to be home or schooled full time and won’t let her do part time . I’m very angry as I had just got her in a good place and she was happy with school now we will be right back at the start can anybody give me some advice please . I’m a single parent and at my wits end
Popsy - 11-Jun-21 @ 1:21 PM
Hi I have my four yr old little girl who i wouldnlove her to thrive and experience school life and make friends and learn in a way that theres not the negative impact of school life. So i haven't got long to consider and apply for part time school and part time home schooling . But what about the first key stage exam in june 2022, will i have to pay for her to sit exams If my little girl is only part time say three days at school. And how do i know what contents and curriculum she should be taught at home and how do i assess she is achieving Aswell as getting the correct contents taught. And whats the realistic annual cost i would expect to face? I would so love to hear from someone that has knowlegde On this to help me make the correct decison for my little girl.
Mommy - 16-Apr-21 @ 4:17 PM
Home schooled kids don’t struggle to adjust to school any more than other kids. In fact struggling with school or being failed by the mainstream classroom is often WHY kids are homeschooled. And since when is being fair to other kids a criteria for choosing my child’s education? That’s like refusing to buy your kid a bike because the next door neighbour kid might be jealous! We have to make decisions based on what our child needs. Plus, if the other children see being home educated as better and desirable, doesn’t that say a lot about how awful school is for them?
Bob - 21-Jul-20 @ 8:26 AM
I find this article biased and more pro state funded then a neutral based comparison. Life is not about be fair to everyone. Life is about determining what’s right for each child . We are become a police society here in the U.K. just look at the LGBT influence in the department of education . From balanced view to extremist LGBT agenda .
Jane - 3-May-20 @ 4:04 AM
Hi! I suppose our child is 1 of the 450 currently flexischooled. The headteacher recently suddenly 'withdrew' permission because the local authority ppl responsible for tracking a schools 'performance' are pressurizing and penalizing the school due to the impact on 'attendance' figures.The withdrawal has nothing to do with what is best for the child.. it is out of self preservation. This is because there is no FLEXISCHOOLING absence code. There is only B or C. And so we are left with a fight. There is a huge gap in the published official government policy on Flexischooling (updated July 2019) and attendance policy. The *only* way to resolve this and to get more schools to embrace flexischooling, is to create a flexischooling absence code. To get the government to take notice, we may need to create a petition.Otherwise please contact Gavin Williamson and the ed stat policy head, Nick (who is also an MP). Our experience is this: Our child goes to school after math class, and he does math at home. He has had no problems integrating. Every other child understands 'why' he is coming in late.And at home he has been able to pursue the subject almost at A level, with parental support, something the school could never offer.His progress is tracked as the course is online and so we are able to show progress reports whenever requested. Except for the schools unnecessary roadblocks, it has been a perfect situation. Some schools may offer to 'flexischool' by allowing the child to leave early, but this always impacts club provision and the ability to arrange after school playdates etc. so is not as feasible. Good luck on your journeys. The first thing to do is to print off the government guidelines and support of flexischooling and email it to the headteacher.But be prepared for a no, whatever valid circumstance, due to the absence coding issue.
Twinkie - 2-Feb-20 @ 9:34 PM
My boy has been doing a “phase-in” after having been sent home due to his uncontrollable outbursts. There’s a number of reasons why Flexi-schooling would benefit him in my opinion: minimise bullying issues, poor relationship with his teacher, reduced anxiety levels and seems happier doing his work at home. Up to now, it’s almost as if he is already being Flexi-schooled without making it official by way of writing to the school and having to go through the education system of the council but they’re gradually increasing his time in school and I think it’s going too fast. If I propose the whole Flexi-schooling thing up until September when he gets a new teacher, new class and new classmates... what’s the chances of me being refused given that they’ve already done something similar?
Lisa - 2-Feb-20 @ 10:32 AM
Hi I am considering flexi schooling for my 10 year old. Our current situation is that her father and I have not been in a relationship together for 8 years. I am married to another and he has been a constant to my daughter since she was 3 years old. My now husband has worked overseas in US for 3 years now and we have been travelling backwards and forwards in this time. The courts refused our plea to move abroad as my daughter has her father here so I have to leave my daughter with her dad on the occasions when it is not school holidays and she cannot come with me. This is putting a strain on our relationship as she gets upset when I go. When I came across flexi schooling this seemed like a great idea for her to come with me more to US and do home school part time. I have a meeting with the school head about this today. Has anyone had a similar situation? I would love any advice please as I am at a loss what else we can do. Any points I should put to the teacher to convince it’s the right thing to do?
Shell - 21-Jan-20 @ 12:24 PM
My child is on part time at school for behaviour problems which they say. I don't agree with it. It's the schools fault they have failed him and the head teacher wants him out its terrible how my child gets treated in school where the other children seem to get away with taunting him and he don't get believed it's disgusting
Poppy - 2-Nov-19 @ 3:47 AM
I am looking for flexi schooling for my nearly 5 years old son in Uk. Please can some one be in touch to give me more details in regarding flexi schooling. Thank you, Dean
Dean - 23-Sep-19 @ 12:09 PM
personally, right now im going through difficulties that are involving me having anxiety and getting bullied in lesson , which has now made a massive impact on my attendance bringing it to breaking point due to anxiety and stress , also while this has been happening i have also had problems with keeping track of homework , which has interupted the things that i want to focus on for my future . I have had many problems with learning and focusing and by doing this I think it can help me improve and get better at things that I know im going to be using for my future .These problems have also caused stress at home making sleep and finding personal time very difficult . Which has effected my learning the next day . In the past we have went to the school informing them about this and have gave examples of what i can do to improve things if this happens and how it can help me . Does anyone know a way we can confront the teachers about this issue and possibly have any ideas in which I can improve on when talking about me doing flexi-schooling
leng - 27-Apr-19 @ 1:53 PM
I find it really hard to take an article seriously when it talks of what’s fair and unfair as a negative for how you school your child! Should we apply the same logic to those children that attend public school over those that attend private school. The unfair mentality is what is teaching our kids an over bearing sense of self entitlement. Creating the illusion that everything should be fair and just and no effort is required. Is it fair that we live somewhere where our children are able to attend school over countries where children can’t have an education! That’s unfair!
Murray - 17-Apr-19 @ 11:11 AM
Hi when do ask for flexi schooling? Bofore a school gives our child a place or after? Thank you
umjacob - 3-Apr-19 @ 11:04 AM
Hi. Does anyone know where we stand with an academy? My son is in a senior academy and they run differently to local education Authority schools. I think our son would be better in Flexi schooling otherwise we will have to take him out totally Manda
Manda - 11-Feb-19 @ 10:16 AM
Telle- you wrote your question on 17march 2016. We are in same predicament. We need to work in Europe from May to August and need to take ur 8year old with us. We are directors of our own performance company and need to work the job together. We have the capability to employ a registered tutor to provide tuition but we are also very active parents in our sons learning. Can anyone offer any help regarding this situation? Thanks in advance. Wendy
WendyO - 29-Dec-18 @ 2:07 PM
Many schools offer flexischooling and the numbers offering it are on the rise in response to parents wishes . Where a headteacher is willing to offer this there is generally support from the LA to explore it . Eg of schools offering it so far are Hollinsclough , Castleton , Michaelchurch Escley , Stoney Middleton, Pott Shrigley, Stratford Schools Federation , Manifold, Erpingham, Northrepps, St Weonards, Weston Lullingfields to name a few . Loads of information for parents via the Flexischooling families UK Facebook group or the Hollinsclough School website .
Karen Flexischooling - 11-Nov-18 @ 7:08 PM
Flex-Parent - Your Question:
I am keen to set up Flex-schooling for my 6 year old girl who struggles with a full day at school. Presumably we can choose to home school her any way we choose provided we meet the curriculum. To explain, we have the opportunity to use the services of a retired primary school teacher who has offered her services. We would be looking at part time flexi, perhaps a few mornings a week. Is there any likely restrictions on such an arrangement?

Our Response:
Each council has a different approach, you can see what support you can get in your area via the gov.uk link here.
GetTheRightSchool - 5-Jun-18 @ 9:55 AM
I am keen to set up Flex-schooling for my 6 year old girl who struggles with a full day at school. Presumably we can choose to home school her any way we choose provided we meet the curriculum. To explain, we have the opportunity to use the services of a retired primary school teacher who has offered her services. We would be looking at part time flexi, perhaps a few mornings a week. Is there any likely restrictions on such an arrangement?
Flex-Parent - 4-Jun-18 @ 8:03 AM
@Caz - schools don't offer flexi-time. It's home-schooling or school - there is no in-between.
Ailsa - 3-May-18 @ 2:49 PM
My son is being home educated at the moment since December 2016 as he doesnt cope with school banter as the schiol call it of other children , i would like him to start back at a school flexi hours can this be done
Caz - 1-May-18 @ 2:52 PM
Hello, does anyone know or could anyone advise, can you send your child to school full time but use 'flexi-schooling' to pull them out for a whole term? Due to the nature of our work, we tend to travel around Europe from around mid/end may until September. Does anyone have advise on how to approach schools with this idea. Any advice would be appreciated, we would prefer our children to attend school rather than being fully home schooled.
Telle - 17-Mar-16 @ 9:35 PM
Hi...just wanted to point parents to a flexi-friendly secondary in Birmingham. Kimichi School is vastly different to others and well worth a look.
Saska - 19-Oct-15 @ 10:42 PM
@shellMum - you would really have to discuss this with your son's headteacher as there will be a big requirement and commitment from you to put in the work.
GetTheRightSchool - 27-Mar-15 @ 2:24 PM
My son is yr 6 and has a little over a term left. I refuse to take him back to old primary due to ongoing issues. I dont mind home schooling him but I really want him to do his SAT, could flexi schooling be the answer? I know the head would have to agree, but would this be easier than trying to get him in another school? I am in limbo at the moment as the LEA person I need to talk to is off, noone knows when she will be back & theres noone to fill in.
shellMum - 26-Mar-15 @ 12:08 PM
@dallies, why not contact your local LEA for a list of participating schools in your area?
dad - 30-Jul-14 @ 2:34 PM
Hi Sarah, thanks for the info. we are in Whetstone in Barnet, London. Is there a list, or people we could ask which schools participate and which don't? thanks Paul
dallies - 30-Jul-14 @ 11:01 AM
Dear Sarah Knowles, thank you for the informative article. I'd like to research this further. If possible please provide sources for the legislation or other relevant documents on flex-schooling. thanks in anticipation...
singingotter - 2-Jul-12 @ 5:16 PM
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