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flexi schooling/part time in Reception, your rights

(40 Posts)
RillaBlythe Fri 20-Jul-12 08:27:39

do you flexi school your reception age child? Or send them part time? What are your rights to do so? (I hate to say "rights" as it sounds so argumentative/entitled but you know what I mean!).

My June born DD is due to start Reception in September. I understand that she isn't compulsory school age till next Easter... How difficult can the school be if I want to keep her out of school one day a week (I'd like to send her to Forest School on that day)? Her school is hyper concerned about absence from my experience in the nursery attached!

Emandlu Fri 20-Jul-12 08:31:36

You can only flexi-school with permission from the head teacher of the school. There is no automatic right for parents to do this.

RillaBlythe Fri 20-Jul-12 08:35:00

but what about the fact that DD is not compulsory school age for most of the first year of school, does that make a difference?

Emandlu Fri 20-Jul-12 08:38:12

I'm not sure to be honest. I think that once you have accepted a place and your child has attended then attendance is then compulsory despite her not being of school age.

If I'm wrong I'm sure someone will correct me shortly. grin

NeverKnowinglyUnderstood Fri 20-Jul-12 08:39:54

it is a legal requirement for your child to attend school the term after their 5th birthday.
before that it is your call.
I do think working with the school may be easier than working against them though.

RillaBlythe Fri 20-Jul-12 08:40:18

I think you might be right - sounds plausible! Might make an appointment to chat it over with the head before the end of term.

tiggytape Fri 20-Jul-12 08:41:00

You have the right to defer entry without losing your place. Eg you can decide not to send your DD to school at all until Easter and nobody would be able to do anything about it even if the school disliked the arrangement.

You do not however have the right to flexi school. You can request thins but the school does not have to grant it. In practice though many are open to children going part time and will try to work with you to agree what would work best. This has to be negotiated though, unlike deferring the parent does not hold all the cards.

RillaBlythe Fri 20-Jul-12 08:59:03

*neverknowinglyunderstood", just saw your response - absolutely agree, which is why I hesitated to use the word "rights" as it sounds like I am drawing up my legalese for a fight.

tiggytape thanks for that. Do you have some insight into why the school would be resistant to flexi schooling i.e. what their specific concerns would be? I imagine there would be concern over children missing the set up to work/having to be filled in on what had happened on their day away. How much does that apply at reception level?

tiggytape Fri 20-Jul-12 09:04:18

Some schools are very happy to agree part time hours and in some schools many children do it. I imagine they prefer to set times in advance so the yknow when to expect each child to arrive but some schools are very flexible even about that.

The schools that are less keen say that is is disruptive for the child involved, prevents friendships being formed so readily and can mean children miss things eg if you do part time mornings the child might miss a lot of fun activities planned for the afternoons. Some schools are just 'our way is right' in their attitude and expect parents to comply without any real reason other than they don't want to set a precedent of 30 different children requesting 30 varying routines.

Hopefully your school will listen to your concerns and come to an agreement that you are all happy with. Most schools are pretty reasonable about it all.

tiggytape Fri 20-Jul-12 09:09:11

.... and I am not saying this is the way to go about it (negotiation is always best) but if you did find your school was totally anti part time / flexi schooling in reception, you can use your right to defer as leverage.
If you defer, they potentially lose funding for that child as funding is based on a head count taken in January (soon to be changed to October). A school might prefer to agree reluctantly to part time hours rather than have the child totally absent for months and months.

I don't recommend using this as a starting point though and don't threaten it unless you can carry it out. A mutual decision is always the best option for you and the school but if you met total resistance (as can happen in some schools), it could be used as a last resort to try to encourage them to compromise.

SugarBatty Fri 20-Jul-12 09:17:11

I think they would be reluctant for reasons such as if another child in the area hadn't got a place because they were full and you only used your place sometimes?

Also it might affect the schools attendance figures?

I think attendance figures should discount nursery and reception and only record compulsory attendance. I work in a nursery school and our LEA funding is based on attendance, ie we won't secure funding next year if places are not full and attended this year. However I don't think schools work in the same way.

Probably best to makke appt with the head and talk it through.

chillikate Fri 20-Jul-12 16:36:58

My DS has just finished reception and with his report we got his official attendance record. On any absence he had before he turned 5 it is listed as "absence before legal school age" so I'm not sure it counts as an absence IYKWIM

bowerbird Sun 22-Jul-12 17:36:12

OP just to let you know that flexi-school absences are NOT considered absences from school (as in illness or family leave, holiday), and the school should not be penalised for it. Officially, your DC is being educated "off-site". Obviously you need to get your headteacher to agree to this, but you may want to speak first to your LEA, or ask around and see if any other schools are doing this.

In my initial meeting with the head, I went in with a lot of information about flexi-schooling which I think went a long way to getting the HT not only to agree, but be very positive about it. It is perfectly plausible that the HT doesn't know much about it, so go in pleasantly armed.

Good luck

RillaBlythe Sun 22-Jul-12 19:21:58

Thank you all for some very helpful pointers!

bowerbird, can you point me towards any of the resources you used?

bowerbird Sun 22-Jul-12 20:00:24

Rilla, here are some resources:

Interesting article (the school mentioned, Shacklewell, is in my LEA, so it was very helpful)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2011/dec/05/rise-of-flexi-schooling

This is from 2010 but all the info still holds:
http://www.usethekey.org.uk/pupils-and-parents/behaviour-and-attendance/absence-attendance/flexi-schooling

and from a home ed site
http://www.education-otherwise.net/attachments/article/125/FlexischoolingEngland.pdf

Once you can reassure the HT that flexi-schooling will not affect their attendance records, they will calm down.

I think it helps if you approach the HT and talk about flexi-schooling as a positive option, rather than a "this-school-isn't-meeting-my-child's-needs" (even if it isn't). It might also be helpful if you might be specific about the kind of things you might want to do. For instance, go to museums, learn an instrument, learn a foreign language, learn a physical skill such as swimming. These things all relate back to the NC, but very often the school hasn't the resources or time to teach.

Let me know if you need any other info. Good luck!

mrz Sun 22-Jul-12 20:10:41

Following the Department for education 2011 Summer School Census - Readiness Bulletin No. 3 (LAs), item 6.2, children should be recorded as absent when not in school.
Schools may record the sessions when the child is not in school as ‘authorised absences’ (Code C).
These sessions will be included in the number of possible sessions and the absence and attendance figures in the Attainment and Achievement tables.

so I'm not so sure that the school's attendance figures won't be affected

bowerbird Sun 22-Jul-12 20:35:03

MRZ I generally bow to your wisdom in all things educational. However, with the utmost respect, on this one, I believe you are mistaken.

The child is being educated "off-site". They are not absent. Just like a school trip (they're absent from the school building but they're being educated off-site). Absent but not really absent. Confused? Been there.

My DC's school are obsessed by their attendance rates. Was able to flexi-school after they clarified their position.

bowerbird Sun 22-Jul-12 20:44:14

OK, we may be splitting hairs here, but...

In some LEAs it may be that the school is required to record them as absent (authorised).

However, they are still registered at the school as full-time, rather than part-time pupils. It is this that affects their funding. So as long as this is intact, that should calm any fears that the school would be penalised.

Hope this is clear as mud!

mrz Sun 22-Jul-12 20:45:57

I think it's a very grey area bowerbird as the information I posted was from a LEA website another site says

in certain circumstances, instead of being recorded as authorised absence, the pupil can be recorded as attending ‘an approved educational activity’ (Code B) if:

i. the activity had been approved by an authorised person on behalf of the proprietor of the school or headteacher of the school;
ii. the activity takes place during the school session in question;
iii. the activity was educational in nature; and
iv. the person supervising the activity at the time had been authorised by the proprietor or the headteacher of the school. The proprietor of a maintained school is the governing body.

Saracen Sun 22-Jul-12 22:35:57

I think the appropriate code depends on whether the child is actually being educated when not at school.

Statutory guidance from DCSF in 2009 ( "Absence and Attendance Codes") made it clear that code C is to be used when the part-time arrangement was seen as a temporary transition arrangement to ease a child into school. Certainly in the case of a child who is of compulsory school age, there will be trouble if Code C is used for long, because this would indicate the child is not in full-time education as required by law.

For a child who is actually being educated when not at school, Code B is the correct one to use.

Advocates of informal learning would say there need not be any practical distinction between the two situations, but in law there is a difference. Code C indicates that the child is only being educated part-time. Code B is for full-time education, some of which is conducted off the school premises.

I don't know what the funding situation is, but if the school receives less money for a four year old who is part-time than for one who is full-time then it must be in the school's interests to record it as Code B.

Beamur Sun 22-Jul-12 22:40:14

My DD went to school (in Reception) four days a week until the term after she turned 5. The LEA website said that full time attendance before 5 was not compulsory, so once DD had been offered a place at the school I asked if it would be ok for her to do 4 days not 5. They went away and had a think about it, came back and said it was fine.
I did not HE or otherwise formally educate her on the day she was not at school.

RillaBlythe Tue 24-Jul-12 13:00:33

Saw the head today - she said that she is looking into it, but if she can say no she will say no. Hmm.

TantrumsAndBalloons Tue 24-Jul-12 13:09:27

Did you just want to flexi time for reception year or will it be longer?

I can sort of understand the schools point, they may look at it as unsettling for the class, your DH missing out on things etc but I'm sure you have a valid reason for choosing this.

Can you speak to the LA if they say no?

RillaBlythe Tue 24-Jul-12 13:14:59

Just Reception year I think. HT is nice but I did feel a bit patronised - surely one could assume that I want to do this because I have my child's best interests at heart. I think if she says no that is it really, there isn't an appeal process or anything!

Floggingmolly Tue 24-Jul-12 13:22:21

Use your right to defer as leverage? Only if the school is very under subscribed and desperate for your custom, so to speak. Otherwise they simply offer the place to the next child on the list.
You don't accept a reception place and then defer it till Year 1, you know. You have to apply for a Year 1 place in an already full class and depend on a place becoming available due to children leaving.

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