Letter sent to my MP:
I am writing as your constituent, and as the parent of a child at a school in your constituency, to complain about the Government’s change in the policy over flexischooling. This is the practice of letting children receive part of their education in school and part at home.
The change in policy is summarised thus on the DfES wesbite:
“Can a school agree to a so-called flexi-schooling arrangement; where the pupil is partly educated at school and partly educated at home? No. Parents have a legal duty to ensure that their children of compulsory school age receiving full-time education suitable to their age, ability and aptitude. Parents can fulfil this duty by either registering their children at a school or by education otherwise than at a school (which includes home education). The law does not provide for a combination of both.
“Where parents decide to educate their child at a school, parents have a legal duty to ensure their child attends regularly. If they fail to do this they may be committing an offence. Schools are funded to provide full-time education for all pupils (age 5-16) on their register and therefore are accountable for the standard of education their pupils receive. A flexi-schooling arrangement means some schools would receive a full unit of funding for certain pupils for whom they do not provide fulltime education, and in some cases, may provide very little.”
There is a plain attempt here at confusion. The law clearly allows for educational activities to be allowed as authorised absence, so I am not sure why they are now saying that this is not possible. Flexischooling usually works with the school setting a full time place and getting full time funding, but authorising educational absences. Thus, there is no need to talk about half funding.
If a parent has been granted authorised absences for 50% of every week, say, they cannot be committing a criminal offence. This is purely a matter of negotiation between parents and head teachers. There is no need for administrative interference.
According to Graham Stuart, chair of House of Commons Education Committee:
“The sudden change in flexi-schooling policy announced by the Government – without consultation or even notice – would, if left as is, cause huge disruption and upset to hundreds (if not thousands) of children. I have spoken to the responsible minister, Liz Truss, and hope and expect to have substantive news early next week. The overnight abolition of this long established practice cannot be justified and will, therefore, I predict, be reversed, whatever the longer term outcome may be.”
I shall be most grateful if you could write to Ms Truss to have this policy clarified in line with what has been the law at least since 1944. Anything less amounts to a covert attack on our established right to home education.