Flexible Education

(10 Posts)
jebthesheep Tue 09-Jun-20 12:08:38

I have been lurking about education threads for a while seeking alternatives for my early secondary years child. I am curious to know what if anything is missing from the obvious options that I have found..

Full time school suits many families and children well, the current homes schooling situation is clearly not working for many of them. I assume that whether sooner or later, this form of schooling will re-establish itself as was, or very close to.

Full time Home ed in its many forms from child led to online schools and everything in-between and round the sides, is presumably less altered educationally but still socially impacted. As isolation measures lift, it will probably get back to normal sooner.

I'm interested in whether there many people out there who feel that a flexible approach would work for their children - and if anyone has experience of making this happen.

The absence code system (kids have to be marked as absent when flexi schooling to my knowledge) and concerns about academic league tables seem to have killed of the prospect of state school flexi schooling being widely available.

Are there those who wish for an alternative to the all or nothing approach - eg Home school plus PE, Practical Science, Mentored Social interaction, even pastoral care ? Does anyone know of this happening ?

Please feel free to disagree, contradict and generally risk being a bit brusqse with me, I just think it's a good time for a wide ranging debate about how we as a nation can approach education - our families are all different and we are in the middle of a huge national edudational experiment - albeit for horrible reasons. It must have got a few people thinking, and a proportion might want something different to what we had.

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ifoughtforliberty Tue 09-Jun-20 12:27:24

I can't see how flexible schooling would work at secondary.

So they would go in for certain lessons and not others? It's different to primary school where the focus tends to be on English and maths in the morning then the afternoons is often more topic based.

I just can't see how you would go in for periods 1 and 4 and then go home again in between? You couldn't do two days a week for example as the timetable wouldn't allow it without missing half the curriculum.

jebthesheep Tue 09-Jun-20 13:01:41

I think this might be another reason why full time schools don't do it - you would need a critical mass of children to be timetabled differently -
I’ve heard of children doing flexi school but it is very rare outside schools that don’t specialize in this offer. There are only a handful in the country that do this and they are usually privately funded and fairly rural but very different in style to what most people think of as a private school.
In more densely populated areas would there ever be a critical mass sufficient to merit a flexi class group

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ifoughtforliberty Tue 09-Jun-20 13:33:13

Personally I don't see the need for it. My children go to school it works for us and them. I have friends who very successfully home ed theirs. I'm not convinced at secondary level there is a need for flexible schooling when both other options work successfully. I can only think of perhaps practical subjects such as engineering that it may be difficult to do outside.

ifoughtforliberty Tue 09-Jun-20 13:38:46

Also at the moment it's not home schooling. It's just crisis schooling. If I was to home school my kids it would involve lots of social interaction and outside learning at places of interest. That's not what anyone up and down the country is currently doing.

jebthesheep Tue 09-Jun-20 16:05:32

I agree, I dont think many people find that crisis schooling is meeting their needs - but personal experience has revealed some advanteges for us :
No Distruption in class
No Bullying - (Of course I accept that anywhere children are interacting opens up that possibility, but full time school means more intense exposure )
The oppurtunity to review difficult concepts 1 to 1 as they come up.
Maths is actually fun (that one is a quote from DC but he might be odd)
Extra physical or emotional needs can be catered for seemlessly.

and although this is not an opportunity with crisis schooling (this phrase is quite handy - thanks) greater choice in the curriculum would be great.

Not everyone would find these things that revevant to their school experience and a majority might not usualy be in a position to choose anything but full time at school due to work or caring commitments.

I'm just interested in whether in normal times there is a possibility of something between completely going it alone and full time commitment to a school.
Hands on Engineering, Science and art and design and Social interaction where the same bunch of kids interact for more than a once weekly session are presumably unpredictable harder to manage on the home ed front.

I'm starting to think about education differently since lockdown and want to question whether the norms suit us and whether we are alone - happy to conceed they suit the majority or I suppose they wouldnt be norms

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Saracen Tue 09-Jun-20 19:52:12

Yes, it isn't unusual for home educators to do group lessons, but of course you have to pay. Usually each subject is done separately so it is a lot of traipsing around, but the bonus is that you can pick and choose exactly which subjects and which tutors you like best. In particular it is very common for GCSE prep: hire an experienced tutor with good knowledge of the exam syllabus and marking scheme, get together six or eight teens and do it together for a year or two.

Lots and lots of ad hoc short courses are arranged. A parent finds an opportunity which would be great for their own child and organises a series of lessons, workshops, or whatever and invites others to join in so it is viable financially and socially. Often these are only once a week, but there can be a sort-of consistent peer group in that there may be lots of overlap in children attending various groups. So my daughter sees certain kids ONLY at her weekly sports session, but others she might see three times a week at various activities.

So I think that in many areas, what you are after is sort of available within the home ed community, but possibly not for as many hours as you have in mind, and not all in one place in a concentrated way.

College is another option if you want part-time school, and it's free. Many colleges now offer dedicated 14-16 programmes. These are typically day release and intended for schoolchildren who find academic subjects hard to engage with and want vocational programmes, but home ed kids can join in too for say one whole day a week. There are a very few colleges which specialise in offering various separate courses to home ed kids - New College Swindon for instance. Or under-16s can sometimes infill on courses intended for older learners, if the college agrees it is right for them.

qwerty1972 Tue 09-Jun-20 20:02:30

My (home educated) daughter has used online schools for some of her education for the last 6 years. Some of her subjects she has self-studied, some she has done with me and others she has been part of a weekly class online in 'school'. The pick and mix approach has worked for her and she has been very happy working in this way. I felt the online schools provided her with experience of working with a teacher other than me and also got her used to the more collaborative group dynamic.

miffmufferedmoof Tue 09-Jun-20 22:06:27

I would love it if school didn’t have to be all or nothing, but to me the major problem with flexi schooling (other than attendance codes) is that schools are still accountable for children’s progress and must follow the national curriculum. We’ve just decided to home Ed my 9 year old and have joyfully ditched joined up handwriting and grammar. If we flexischooled he’d still have to do the rubbish bits of the curriculum

jebthesheep Wed 10-Jun-20 15:45:22

Seems like many home edders have done a DIY version that is pretty close to the kind of thing I was curious about. It sounds like a great idea - are there pit falls that you know of? ( it occured to me that with an informal arrangement people might drop out or that it may be difficult to get included if a group of close friends are doing it - does that happen ?)
Also the 14-16 college thing is very interesting - not something mainstreamers like myself are commonly aware of. Thanks.
like you I still want to keep most of the curriculum, the exposure to professional teachers, a regular routine and the group dynamic thing, I thought that online schooling might offer that. Really glad it's working for your DD.
I agree and I can understand them not wanting to be accountable for results not all of their making, with league tables being so important to everyone.
Good luck to you and DC.

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