Flexi-Schooling

Welcome to our Flexi-Schooling page

We firmly believe and fully support a parent’s right to choose to home-educate their child or children.

Electing to Home Educate is a bold step for any family, it is a decision not taken lightly or without good cause.

Over time through what is even today a constantly evolving process, we have adapted the mainstream approach to education in order to offer a solution to a broad cross-section of parents who have alternative views on how education should be delivered.

This cross-section is effectively our ‘customer base’ and is made up of a mix of parents from the Elective Home Education community, through to those parents who have become dissatisfied with the approach of their local school and or local authority.

If you decide to come to our school for Flexi-schooling, then you can be safe in the knowledge that you are with nationally recognised experts in this field, summed up quite simply as ‘We lead and others follow’. If you want to know more, please call and ask to speak to either Mrs Mountford-Lees or Mr Malbon.

The United Kingdom has ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Article 12 of the UNCRC requires states to provide a right for children to express their views and for due weight to be given to those views, in accordance with the age and maturity of the child. This does not give children authority over parents, and a decision to educate a child at home is a matter for you as parents.

The quote below underpins our belief in Flexi-Schooling;

“The respect of parent’s freedom to educate their children according to their vision of what education should be has been part of international human rights standards since their very emergence.”

‘The Special Rapporteur to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights – 8th April 1999

Our Flexi-schooling policies and methodologies are designed and implemented taking into account the UNESCO ‘4 A’s’ a simple rights-based approach to education of:

Availability, Accessibility, Acceptability and Adaptability

The 4 A’s framework was developed by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, Katarina Tomasevski and can be summarised in the following manner;

Availability: this implies that good quality education must be made available to all by eliminating all barriers, be they financial, physical, or institutional / systemic.

Accessibility: the ‘available’ education must also be made accessible to all, by eliminating all forms of discrimination and through installing flexible modes of education, particularly for the most vulnerable and marginalised who otherwise may not be reached by conventional modes.

Acceptability: it is not enough that learning opportunities are accessible; they must also be acceptable in terms of quality and relevance to the learners’ experiences and environment, and respectful of their circumstances and culture if learners are to truly benefit from education. This means ensuring that education meets the minimum standards set by governments, including the medium of instruction, curriculum and teaching methods.

Adaptability: finally, education programmes must be adaptable to the various needs of the learners rather than expecting learners to fit in with a prescribed syllabus, uniform pedagogical style or system. This is particularly important when dealing with marginalised and vulnerable children. 

Our Ideas, Approach and Policy

Here at Hollinsclough we have many conversations with Parents, Headteachers, Local Authorities, the DfE and others with regard to what is Flexi-schooling; so much so that we have decided that it is time to develop what we are going to term the Flexi-Schooling Federation – this will be open to all to join for a one-off affilation fee.

Primarily this federation will be aimed at the range small education establishments (schools, academies, free schools) and interested professional bodies. Membership will offer access to the evolving policy and practice in our sector and provide strength in numbers when challenges arise.

Opportunities exist for small rural schools to develop their own Flexi-schooling offer and we are seeing an increasing number of such schools doing so.

Here at Hollinsclough we are well placed to assist schools in achieving a successful Flexi-schooling provision.

To learn more visit our webpage dedicated to the Federation or contact us via email by clicking here or call us on 01298 83303 and speak to Mr Malbon if you want to discuss your situation.

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Ofsted Inspection Key Comments regarding Flexi-schooling at Hollinsclough

When we first introduced Flexi-schooling in late 2009, Ofsted and the DfE have kept a watchful eye on all that we have done. They first visited our school in early 2010 and we were graded ‘Good with outstanding features’. Following on from that we have received an interim visit in early 2013 and a full inspection in late September 2013, and we achieved the grade of ‘Good’ with the lead inspector offering the following comments;

 ‘Hollinsclough is a – ‘Good School … a leading exponent of ‘flexi-schooling’

‘….inspection findings and school data confirm that good teaching leads to pupils making good progress throughout the school…’ ’… Any barriers to learning are quickly identified…’

‘… Good teaching enables pupils from a wide range of backgrounds and abilities to learn successfully…’ ‘… Strategies for managing behaviour of pupils are very effective…’

 ‘…Safeguarding systems in and around the school are rigorous and secure…’

‘…The Governing Body provides good support and challenge for leaders and managers to ensure that the school improves and moves forward…’

February 2013 interim report – ‘The schools performance has been sustained’   

Since our conversion to Academy status in September 2015 we still promote the same key findings of past inspections, none more so than those commented on in our March 2010 Report when the lead inspector of the time summarised with the following comment;

‘Within the school’s very friendly, secure, calm and intimate family ethos, pupils achieve well and make good progress academically and in their personal development. Pupils behave well and look after each other exceptionally well. They feel especially safe and are very confident in the adults, who they regard as ‘kind’. Staff know the pupils extremely well and this provides the foundation for the outstanding care, guidance and support that the school provides for its pupils …. Pupils make good progress because of the effective combination of formal, informal and one-to-one teaching.’

Ofsted 2018

Our most recent inpsection took place in July 2018 and represents the first inspection since we converted to an Academy (01/09/2015).

Our inspector made the following comments as part of her overall judgement of ‘Good with Outstanding’;

     ‘………The headteacher, along with her team of dedicated staff, ensures that pupils have a positive experience at school. Equal value is placed upon pupils’ academic and personal development. As a result, pupils make good progress in a happy, safe environment …..’

  ‘…… Children in the early years get off to a super start. Adults ensure that children’s needs are very well met. Consequently, children make substantial and sustained progress in all areas of learning …….’

‘……Governors are ambitious for the success of the school. They know the school’s strengths and weaknesses well because they make regular visits. They use this knowledge to provide effective support and challenge…..’

‘……The curriculum is broad and balanced. Pupils enjoy the additional activities, including opportunities to learn outside and the educational visits that complement the topics they study…..’

‘…….Leaders have organised the curriculum very carefully to ensure that pupils who take up the option of flexi-schooling do not miss out on any subject areas. For example, all topic work is delivered over the three core days that all pupils must attend. Some subjects, including computing, are delivered in such a way that flexischool pupils access the materials from home through the internet. Extra-curricular clubs allow pupils to experience a wide range of sports activities……….’

To review the report in full please click here.

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The Legal Basis of Flexi-schooling (also see table of DfE Documents at the base of this page)

Reference needs to be made to the following document –  Elective Home Education Guidelines for Local Authorities – April 2019 – Subsection 10.7/.8/.9 which clearly states;

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10.7 Although most children educated at home have all the provision made at home, or alternatively partly at home and partly in other ways such as attendance at privately-run part-time tuition settings, it is not essential that this be so. Some children who are educated at home most of the time are also registered at school and attend school for part of the week – perhaps one day a week. The purpose of this is usually to ensure the provision in specific subjects is satisfactory, although it can also help in other ways such as socialisation. If a child is of compulsory school age he or she must, overall, be receiving full-time education even if components of it are part-time.
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10.8 Schools are not obliged to accept such arrangements if requested by parents. If they do, then time spent by children being educated at home should be authorised as absence in the usual way and marked in attendance registers accordingly. It is not appropriate to mark this time as ‘approved off-site activity’ as the school has no supervisory role in the child’s education at such times and also has no responsibility for the welfare of the child while he or she is at home. The department does not propose to institute a new attendance code specific to flexi-schooling. Some schools have expressed concern that such absence may have a detrimental effect for the purpose of Ofsted inspection, but this is not the case; some schools with significant flexi-schooling numbers have had good outcomes from Ofsted inspections. Schools which have
flexi-schooled pupils should be ready to discuss with Ofsted inspectors the arrangements they have in place to deal with the requirements caused by such pupils. Schools are held to account through inspection for the performance of pupils, and that will include any who attend the school as part of a programme of flexi-schooling.

10.9 Another form of provision available to home educated children aged 14-16 is parttime attendance at further education colleges, sixth form colleges and 16-19 academies or free schools. Again, this is normally to help with specific subjects and/or socialisation. When children who are educated at home attend such college settings part-time then the provision made should be taken into account by the local authority in deciding whether the education provided as a whole for the child meets the s.7 requirement.

Secretary of State for Education – Rt Hon Justine Greening MP (Sept 2017)Statement

The Department for Education and the Secretary of State for Education (Justine Greening) have applied the their opinion to how they view Flexi-schooling and parental responsibility;

‘……..Flexi-schooling is a term used for an arrangement whereby a child is partly educated at school and partly home educated. ‘The Department’s view is if parents choose not to have their child educated by full-time attendance at school, they are responsible for the whole of their child’s education, not schools ………..

There is no legal requirement on a school to agree to a Flexi-schooling arrangement. In agreeing to such an arrangement, the school is accepting that the child will sometimes miss school……..’

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Our Safeguards – an evolving approach

At present children who are using the Flexi-Schooled approach at our academy, are required to attend for what we call the three ‘Core Days’ of Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The three core day option is the minimum requirement with a substantial number attending for up to a full week by choice.

We have in place a Memorandum of Understanding that clearly sets out our expectations of stakeholders.

Our Flexi-School parents mostly come from well outside our normal catchment area, distances of 20 to 40 miles are not uncommon and from this it is clear the level dedication these parents have to child or children’s educational development in this way.

We have developed close links with a number of local authorities, along with the Elective Home Education facilitator Education Otherwise. Additional information is also available from Home Education UK especially their legal section which helps to clarify the 1996 Education Act for parents who are considering the Elective Home Education choice.

Our approach has been subject to several Ofsted and SIAMS inspections and has been graded ‘Good at worst, to ‘Good with Outstanding Features at best. Our provision has been acknowledged by Lord Nash (then Parliamentary under Secretary of State for Schools), as being an ‘innovative approach to learning’.

We have also been visited by our own MP Rt. Hon Karen Bradley – Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and Edward Timpson MP the then Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families.

Here at Hollinsclough Academy we can tailor our support to suit your needs and work with you to facilitate the desire to combine Home Education and mainstream schooling in a manner that benefits your children.

Comments from some of our Home Educator / Flexi-school parents

“Thank you for all that you have done for our child and consequently for our family – We have taken so many positives from it”

“We think your school is a very special place to learn and play”

“Our family feels very lucky to have found such brave little school that nurtures the children so well”

“If we lived nearer to your school we would attend every day” ,

“Although I will continue to Home Educate, your approach to supporting my child’s needs is beginning to
restore my confidence in mainstream education”

Comments of note from within Government, Diocesan and County Officers, Ofsted and others

Lord Nash, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Schools  commented;

“I was interested to read how Hollinsclough School has been able to increase pupil numbers, especially in a rural setting.

It is clear that the schools innovative approach to learning is popular and is encouraging parents to select Hollinsclough School above others”

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Colin Hopkins, (the then) Director of Education for the Diocese of Lichfield, commented in a recent press release;

“……This school is developing an innovative approach to education which could well be a model for small schools in rural areas to achieve longer-term sustainability. I am delighted that Hollinsclough is achieving pre-eminence in this field……’

Our Flexi-school Project supported by the CfBT Education Trust
During early 2011 we were involved with the CfBT Education Trust and others, to research into the feasibility of integrating and supporting Home Education within mainstream state provision. The final report was titled New Models for Organising Education: Flexi-schooling – how one school does it well

The outcomes of the project offered a possible means to shape education delivery in the future.

Sir Jim Rose summarised his view of Flexi-schooling in is opening foreword of this report;

Flexi-schooling’ or ‘flexible school attendance’ is an arrangement between the parent and the school where the child is registered at school in the normal way but where the child attends the school only part time; the rest of the time the child is home-educated (effectively on authorised absence from school). Flexi-schooling is a legal option provided that the headteacher at the school concerned agrees to the arrangement.

Home schooling is a long-standing option that is open to parents who, for example, take the view that their children are not always best served by entering full-time, statutory education at the age of five. Some parents prefer to educate their children full time at home while others seek varying periods of part-time schooling, irrespective of their child’s age.

The purpose of this report is not to argue for or against home schooling but to describe the provision and practice of a small school where an approach to ‘flexi-schooling’ is widely acknowledged as successfully meeting parents’ wishes and children’s educational needs. Its innovative flexi-school approach enables a mix of parent-led educational activities to blend with school-based educational activities.

The report does not provide a blueprint for others to follow; it is simply a story of one school’s approach to flexi-schooling and the benefits to children and parents that have stemmed from it. The hope is that this will be a helpful narrative which sets out some of the issues for parents, Headteachers, governors and local authorities to consider, should they wish to offer the option of flexi-schooling in like circumstances.
For more background information and understanding of our approach to Flexi-schooling select from a link below.


Press Comment

BBC Midlands Inside Out – Small Schools
Headteacher Update Ed-Yourself The Independent
Leadership FocusThe Guardian 2014Huffington Post
BBC News Commonwealth of Learning Diocese of Lichfield

Sir Ken Robinson – TED

Changing Education Paradigms
Schools Kill CreativityBring on the Learning Revolution

Current DfE Guidance Documents – relating to EHE & Attendance

EHE Guidance for LA’s – April 2019 p34 (10.7/.8/.9)EHE Guidance for Parents p20 (6.3)
School Attendance Guidance 2016

Archived DfE Documents – the EHE documents make interesting reading resection 5.6

Elective Home Education Guidelines for Local Authorities (England) 2007 original (up to Mid-February 2013) Elective Home Education Guidelines for Local Authorities (England) 2007  revised March 2013Keeping Pupil Registers – Guidance on applying the Education Pupil Registration Regulations 2006 (original)