Does anyone flexi-school their Primary-age DC?

(176 Posts)
Machadaynu Tue 19-Feb-13 14:52:24

The kid will be starting school in September, but for various reasons we think she'd be happier being flexi-schooled.

I'm aware that she doesn't need to go to school at all legally, and that if she does, it doesn't need to be full-time until the term in which she turns 5. I'm also aware that any flexi arrangement needs to be made with the head.

What I wondered though is if anyone who has actually done it has any advice about how to get the head to agree?

We would like her to 'flex' one or two days a week, and am considering telling the head of my plans and doing it regardless of consent for the first two terms of they year (before she is 5) as it will be an opportunity (hopefully) for us to demonstrate that it's a workable system, but any thoughts and experiences would be appreciated. Thanks.

Sorry,havent read whole thread but we have flexi'd for a few years. It works really well for us. To whoever asked about the benefits of flexi, it's the best of both worlds. I think that both home ed and school have benefits, so flexi gives us experience of both.

morethanpotatoprints Thu 21-Feb-13 21:29:18

Floggingmolly.

The relevance of G&T non academic is basically what others said about tiredness, incomplete homework, missing lots of school. Also when at school spending all day doing mainly academic subjects which of course are important, but can be done in far more detail and shorter time at home.

This was my daughter until this academic year, and so far H.ed has offered her huge benefits and works well for us as a family. She attended from reception until the end of Y3.

dixiechick1975 Thu 21-Feb-13 17:52:21

Have you explored all options locallly?

You are sounding as though you want to homeschool but can't due to needing to work part time at least.

I know a few miles from us is a Montessori that is 4 days a week. Fee paying but nothing like usual private fees. Mumsnet has a homeschool area - there may be options locally to you group wise to make work and homeschool doable.

If you do flex school think carefully re the day she has off. I feel much more involved going to the assembly every Friday (open to parents) - I can easily see how much a child would feel left out missing that.

My dd has a disability needing hospital apts. I'm very conscious to avoid time out eg I beg for 4pm apts. I don't want to give dd an extra hurdle to overcome catching up work and make her even more different by being absent a lot. I vividly recall Zoe from my primary days who missed school a lot for health reasons - not bullied but always on the outside of things (she was a veggie when no one else was and withdrawn from collective worship aswell)

I am watching this with interest as my dd1 will be starting in September and is summer born. We have been home-schooling so far. We are considering our options regarding part-days, full-time and possibly flexi-schooling.

With regard to the prime areas of the EYFS (link to framework here see page 7 and 8), if we go by each section I do not see how your daughter's development would be significantly impacted by attending for part of the week.

Communication and language

Listening and attention, Understanding and Speaking sub sections would all be met several times over within 3-4 days in school plus would occur at home and in home-based social situations.

Physical development

Moving and handling and health and self-care could be covered at home easily and would be reinforced in the 3-4 days in school.

Personal, social and emotional development

Self-confidence and self-awareness, Managing feelings and behaviour and Making relationships all require regular contact with a group of children. This would not have to be 5 days a week. Many home-schoolers achieve all this in mixed-age groups without their children being in school at all.

In the course of our history many have managed to raise and school children within a community setting, the school system does not have a monopoly on education. Learning is a continuous process for all of us, it does not end when you leave the classroom.

Ultimately you do know your child better than any teacher. Children often display behaviours or skills in the environment that they are most comfortable in that they do not elsewhere. One of the reasons (though not the only) I would guess that schools like to do a home visit prior to your child starting reception.

Takver Thu 21-Feb-13 13:38:10

"freedom to explore their own interests without adult input"

mummytime, you've summed up exactly why we wanted to keep dd out of full time school a little longer. Realistically, a 4 year old attending full time doesn't have that much energy left in the evenings (or even that much time once you allow for meals and a reasonable bed-time), and we were really keen for dd to have just a bit longer to hang out in the woods / collect leaves and sticks / dig up worms / play with her dolls / build lego with no educational purpose to any of it.

TBH if we were in England we'd have probably just kept her out of school entirely until she was rising 5 but because of the language issue it seemed better given school were willing to send her on a flexi basis earlier.

Obviously as children get older, they have a later bedtime and more energy for other interests outside school, so it isn't such an issue. Though I'd still love it if school were only 4 days a week (maybe 4 longer days) - can't see it happening though smile

mummytime Thu 21-Feb-13 12:44:02

A non academic G and T child is one whose talents lie outside the normal academic subjects eg. A talented dancer or singer or sports person. The relevance to school is they may miss quite a lot of school, or that teachers need to be aware of their outside school commitments and hence how tired they are/or stress over homework.

OP I think boredom is good for children, especially if they have freedom to explore their own interests without adult input. My own gifted child (a professional recently said that extreme giftedness can be an SEN, when discussing her) was not at all bored at reception age, as there is a lot of learning by playing, and a lot to learn, most of it not academic.

In your situation I would want to find a school which had an interesting and diverse curriculum, and gave her lots of opportunities to explore. If this was not possible then I would want to homeschool.

mrz Thu 21-Feb-13 12:12:32

musically gifted, an artist, dancer, sports

Floggingmolly Thu 21-Feb-13 11:44:27

What is a non academic G & T child, and what's the relevance of being so in an educational environment???

Saracen Thu 21-Feb-13 00:26:18

Have you joined the Facebook group "Flexischooling Families UK"? I have no idea what it's like, but people seem to have been talking it up lately. Perhaps you will find some people there who have experience.

A number of my home ed friends have wanted flexischooling arrangements for various reasons. It seems to be somewhat unusual for schools to be happy to carry on with it the longer term. Schools, like institutions of all sorts, have their ways of doing things. For reasons of efficiency it is difficult for them to accommodate variations to the plan.

I'm not sure you are recognising that the logistical difficulties for the school may be great. As you may have seen from some of the comments here, they take seriously their responsibility to deliver a complete curriculum and are unlikely to agree with your view that some parts of the standard curriculum aren't essential to your particular child. Because of this, they will be wanting to look at how to ensure your child doesn't "miss out" and thereby get an inadequate education. This takes time, planning and communication on their part as well as yours.

I agree with morethanpotatoprints that an alternative for you might be to explore more thoroughly the ways in which you could home educate while working. It isn't easy, but then neither is conforming to the school system when you don't expect it will be a good fit for your child. Many families do work and HE.

morethanpotatoprints Wed 20-Feb-13 16:16:28

Machadaynu.

I think it depends on what sort of education you and your child want tbh.
I know several H.ed families where both parents work.
They tend to use childcare when they need to, or parents alternate between work and home. One of the benefits of H.ed is you don't need to start and finish at a particular time. My dd is working on a Geography project now and started at 9.am, tomorrow she may only do a couple of hours.

I do sympathise with you as school couldn't help my dd either, not that I would expect them to be able to. (non academeic G&T)
If you have a G&T child in any subject, if they are off the radar you need to look elsewhere.
Not that this was dds only reason, there were several.
I hope you find the answer.

mrz Wed 20-Feb-13 15:14:11

I think one of the links I posted mentioned a 4 year old with an EP assessment parents can request an assessment before a child starts school via a GP /health visitor or pay for a private assessment

Machadaynu Wed 20-Feb-13 15:10:48

That's interesting mrz Do you have any experience of someone getting an EP assessment done on those grounds? I'm not sure that there are resources available to help, are there? Would the school have to request the assessment?

mrz Wed 20-Feb-13 14:56:37

If you think your child may fall under a "highly gifted" label you could consider an EP assessment

Machadaynu Wed 20-Feb-13 14:52:23

sittinginthesun

There are logistics - full time HE requires one parent to not be at work every day. We've done that for three years, and bluntly cannot afford to do it any more.

There are also the very good reasons you outline. All the research suggests that the larger the difference between the level the child is operating at and the average level of the class, the less likely it is that the school will be able to manage. They manage fairly well with the moderately gifted, but less so with the more gifted. This article might be of interest www.davidsongifted.org/db/Articles_id_10124.aspx It makes the point that there is a difference between a gifted child (which a good school can deal with) and a "highly gifted" child, which a school generally cannot. The following is from it:

"Many teachers work on the assumption that gifted children comprise a relatively homogeneous group - and this misconception places the highly gifted at risk through misidentification, seriously inadequate curriculum provision, and inappropriate grade placement (Gross, 1992a, 1993).

Gifted pre-school children are at particular risk. Few gifted programs exist for children in this age-group; consequently pre-school teachers are likely to have had neither training on how to recognize these children, nor the opportunity of seeing the level they can work at when they are presented with appropriate learning experiences."

The fear we have, and which I am trying to come up with a plan to deal with by gathering information about our options, is that the kid is what the article refers to as "highly gifted" and as such will be bored in school, as her parents and biological uncles were before her. I don't feel that for her it will present any great issue missing one day a week in school 'learning' something she already knows, to spend a day investigating something else.

It is hassle - not least because it means one of us can't work that day, and we have to prepare work and so on. We'd want to do it if it was in the best interests of our child, same reason we do anything.

BranchingOut Wed 20-Feb-13 14:48:29

I am bowing out of this thread. I wish you all the best, OP and certainly don't want to get into some kind of online argument about something that has little bearing on me or my many successful years teaching this age group. For what it is worth, I have always endeavoured to stretch those who were of high ability, even though I encountered very few who were significantly outside the normal range.

I am sure that your daughter will hugely enjoy her time at home if you are successful in flexi schooling, just as she will get lots out of her time in Reception class, albeit benefits that you might not expect.

inthesark Wed 20-Feb-13 14:28:41

We flexi-school one day a week, although we get away with it because we don't call it that (important, otherwise it would 'set a precedent').

We do it because DD is very good at some things and very bad at others, and so the head agreed that a day out concentrating more on the things that she is bad at would be beneficial.

But crucially, it is a structured event, so they can say 'educated off-site' with good grace.

sittinginthesun Wed 20-Feb-13 14:13:52

Can I just ask a probably stupid, but genuine, question - why flexi school? What benefits are there?

I can understand if a very young child is tired and overwhelmed, then starting part time may be sensible, but with a view to building up to full time.

I can understand a child who is not suited to school being home schooled.

I can understand a parent who believes that home schooling is better for their child/family to home school.

I can sort of understand an older child who is not being stretched at school being out of school for part time to stretch sideways etc (although I would hope a school would handle that within the school itself).

But, what benefit is there to launch straight in with the long term intention of flexi schooling?

My feeling has always been that if you are going to take anything on, it should be with your total enthusiasm and commitment. Otherwise it send out mixed messages. So, if you are going to commit to a school, then throw yourself in.

And we all flexi school to some extent - afternoon, weekends, holidays. The education certainly doesn't stop at school.

Reading this thread, it seems to be an awful lot of hassle (asking the Head, justifying your reasoning etc), so why???

Takver Wed 20-Feb-13 13:05:32

DD definitely didn't have any social issues with attending 4 days, but that may have been because it was the norm for children to have friends in both older and younger groups (so including part timers) as its quite a small school.

mrz Wed 20-Feb-13 12:50:26

I think it depends on individual "personalities" rather than "systems" the second child had very good social skills and had established friendships in nursery and the short time they were in reception so found it easier to re establish herself in the group whereas the first child was socially and emotionally less mature.

morethanpotatoprints Wed 20-Feb-13 12:44:37

Mrz.

Thanks for the last post. Had often wondered what it would be like if dd went back to her old class, she left in July but has regular contact with the school and some friends there.thanks

mrz Wed 20-Feb-13 12:39:55

As a reception teacher I've had both experiences - a child the school suggested wasn't ready for full time education so only attended part time ...after about a tern the reception children would tell her she was on the wrong carpet and she should be in the nursery room (we have a FSU mixed nursery and reception) so her parents decided they wanted her to attend full time from that point. Another child started full time with the rest of the class but moved away to return in the final term and was accepted straight back into the class as if they had been going a few days rather than half a year ...

Takver Wed 20-Feb-13 12:33:02

Thanks for that mrz, I knew it had a special name but couldn't remember it! It sounds great from what people with younger dc say, shame dd was too old and just missed it.

Machadaynu Wed 20-Feb-13 12:29:20

Thanks Runoutofideas Did you mention flexi to the head, then? I think I'd like to do a phased intro with her doing 3-4 days per week, which we can do for two terms anyway - but my worry is if she really likes that arrangement but the school/head will not agree to it beyond her 5th birthday.

I take your point about playtimes, and her social acceptance is something that would be a concern but I am comforted somewhat by remembering a girl at my school that used to live in Canada (I think) for part of the year and the UK for part of the year, so she used to turn up in our class in late-spring, stay until the end of summer term and then, presumably at some point go back to Canada. This went on for a few years. She always seemed to be accepted pretty well. Not quite the same as missing every Friday or whatever though.

It really isn't because we don't want to let go - both me and my partner remember being bored at school. I was put ahead a year (basically missed out year 1) and was still bored - and I really don't want that for the kid, but I think that, knowing her and knowing what it is like to be a teacher (albeit at secondary level) it will be very hard for the staff to engage her. I think that flexi will be of benefit both to her and the staff at the school because I could structure work that she could take with her to school too if that was appropriate.

mrz Wed 20-Feb-13 12:27:46

"Here they've changed the whole of KS1 to 'early years'" The Foundation Phase which in reality is very similar to how many schools in England organise KS1 (well at least until the new curriculum becomes statutory)

Takver Wed 20-Feb-13 12:21:23

"For this reason the DfE gave parents the right to full time education from the start even if their child was not yet 5."

Same here - they can go full time from the term following their 4th birthday (and can attend part time from the term following their 3rd birthday).

They're definitely expected to attend the full week (the missed days show as absences in their report at the end of the year) but the school are unquestionably open to negotiation if they think you won't send them otherwise!

Interesting that your dd preferred yr 1, runoutofideas. DD was very much the opposite, she thrived in reception, and didn't enjoy the change to formal learning in yr 1. (FWIW on the various ability tests, she shows up on the 99th percentile + on the whole damn lot apart from spelling, so not all 'able' children will love being sat down with a pen & paper early on.)

Here they've changed the whole of KS1 to 'early years' (can't remember the exact name) which looks like all the dc up to age 7 milling around in chaos having fun in a big melee though I'm sure it is highly structured underneath. DD would have loved it grin

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