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Angelwings

Flexischooling

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Hi Everybody :)

 

Do any of you out there have any knowledge, experience or advice you could please offer me about flexi-schooling?

 

We have just hit an uncomfortable brick wall with high school - basically, we asked school if our son could drop a G.C.S.E subject or two as we feel that doing the full amount is too many for him to cope with and we felt we would rather he done well in fewer subjects than not so well in too many. We really feel that doing all the G.C.S.Es will be too overwhelming for him. School said dropping a subject like this might be a possibility they may consider BUT if he does drop a subject, when he is not in classes he must go sit in the inclusion unit and...they cannot guarantee there will be any staff in there or that he would be supervised in there during these times.

 

We don't like the thought of him sitting in an unsupervised classroom for some of his regular school week.

 

So, we asked if school would consider flexi-schooling him instead. School responded immediately with a very final sounding 'NO' and said their reason for refusing this request is because 'flexi-schooling is illegal for all cases except if a child is temporarily ill and expected to return to school full time at some point in the future.'

 

Does anyone know if what school is telling us is right?

 

Or do you have any experience of your children or yourselves accessing flexi-schooling that you could share with me?

 

Thanks for your help and support everyone :)

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dgeorgea   

No it is not right. Fundamental principle of education is that the parents/guardian are responsible for the education of their children. This principle is enshrined in our laws. I have to leave home now but will post this afternoon if no one else has responded. In short though it sounds like you need to be having this conversation with LEA rather than the school.

 

One question though, is the school a community school or an academy? It should not make a difference but if an academy it might be a little more complicated.

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Mihaela   

I agree, it's not 'illegal'! It is legal but at the headteacher's discretion. That teacher is either ignorant of the law or having a power-trip. These links should be useful:

 

http://edyourself.org/articles/flexischooling.php

http://edyourself.org/articles/flexischooling.php#flexiconf

http://www.theguardian.com/theobserver/she-said/2014/sep/25/theres-nothing-irregular-about-flexi-schooling

http://www.home-education.org.uk/articles/article-flexi-schooling.pdf

 

Flexi-schooling is used by many partly home-educated children and has been for some time. I find that headteachers have too much power in certain important areas, and some enjoy using that power, and they will 'bluff' (i.e. lie) parents as to what the law entails. The police and local authorities generally do the same - every day - because they know they have a very good chance of getting away with it.

Edited by Mihaela

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Hi dgeorgea and Mihaela,

 

Thank you for your replies :) .

 

dgeorgea, the school is an Academy- I think you are right and that maybe I should contact the LEA and ask them about it too, thank you!.

 

Mihaela, the link was really great, thank you! And I agree, I thought it sounded questionable too when school said it was illegal!

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Livelife   

I don't have anything practical to input here as my knowledge in this area is very limited not having anything to do with school. But to me the moment you leave a child in school you are in trusting them to the care of the school and responsibility of their well being and safety to responsible adults.

Would leaving a child alone not put them at risk of harm left unsupervised and knowing this would the school be knowingly risking a child's health, I don't know the level of care needed here but the attitude I get from the post is that the best interest of a the child is not the top priority but following rules that are detrimental to the child's needs.

With the specific needs here if they dont do what's best for the child then they must be effecting the level of education that is likely to be received. Surely there must be a regulations about specific teaching methods for specific needs that are not being followed here.

Forgive me if I've misunderstood the posts content here in my responce its just an opinion that may well be wrong

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Mihaela   

"...I get from the post is that the best interest of a the child is not the top priority but following rules that are detrimental to the child's needs" . This comes as no surprise to me. Due to a school's very nature, its own interests (often not disclosed or obvious) always come before the best interests of any individual child. Schools cut corners and take risks all the time. Unwritten policies abound, as they do in all institutions, despite what they may publicly claim.

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dgeorgea   

Angelwings,

 

I see Mihaela has given you some useful links.

 

One problem I do potentially see for you is from reading your post again your son is mainly educated at the school and may be dropping one or two subjects. Depending on the subjects being dropped this is potentially 1 to 4 hours spread through out the week. Depending on how far you live from the school there may be practical reasons for saying no, but this needs to be part of a sensible conversation, not simply dictated like this.

 

I am often bemused on how much titles like 'inclusion room' sound awfully like exclusion in the way they are defined. So I would question why he would have to spend his time in the inclusion room rather than the school library, and most secondary schools do have them, where there are resources to manage his own lessons and are usually staffed so he is not left in a potentially vulnerable position.

 

When my daughter's secondary school became an academy they decided to use the safe room as a 'sin bin' (my words for it) and when I questioned it because I knew my daughter would not use it if it was associated with naughty children, I was told that while they respected my concerns the policy would not change. After talking to my local councillor who took it straight to the safeguarding board the policy was changed in weeks. The school of course said it was because of the concerns of some of the parents.

 

Good luck, and hope things work out.

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Hi,

 

Thank you everybody who offered their support about this, I really do appreciate your thoughts and comments.

 

Livelife and Mihaela- I think your thoughts about following the rules (that don't always seem to benefit the child,) safety and quality of education with regards to this situation are all excellent points.

 

Mihaela- your links were fantastic and I spent a good few hours browsing them today and will continue to do so, thank you!

 

dgeorga, thank you for getting back- I really understand what you mean about the practicalities, such as how many hours he may need to spend outside of usual lessons etc.

 

And I absolutely support your very astute reflections regarding 'inclusion units' being, for all intense purposes, 'exclusion units.'

 

Our son doesn't cope very well with unstructured time or self guided study and therefore, we feel that, even if he were allowed to sit in the library (which we currently understand is not even an option school are prepared to offer!) that he will not cope with unregulated time in school. In light of this, I would equally be happy if he were to just study a few main G.C.S.Es in school and I could home-school him the rest of the time.

 

However, school do seem to be dictating to us that either our son cannot drop some G.C.S.Es at all, in which case we strongly believe he will likely not cope and certainly not be able to give his best over his next few G.C.S.E years, OR, if he is allowed by school to only drop one or two at the very most, we are being told that he must go sit in the inclusion unit during these times :(

We feel that, through their unwillingness to be flexible, school have therefore put us in an impossible situation.

 

When school then stated that their reason for not being willing to even negotiate or consider flexible schooling at all was due to it being 'illegal,' in all cases except illness, I thought I would reach out and see what other peoples experiences of flexi schooling were and what their thoughts were about our situation- so thank you all for your replies. :)

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Mihaela   

I'm pleased that we've been of some help to you. :)

 

...and I absolutely support your very astute reflections regarding 'inclusion units' being, for all intense purposes, 'exclusion units.'

 

Our son doesn't cope very well with unstructured time or self guided study...

 

However, school do seem to be dictating to us that either our son cannot drop some G.C.S.Es at all, in which case we strongly believe he will likely not cope and certainly not be able to give his best over his next few G.C.S.E years, OR, if he is allowed by school to only drop one or two at the very most, we are being told that he must go sit in the inclusion unit during these times :(

We feel that, through their unwillingness to be flexible, school have therefore put us in an impossible situation.

 

When school then stated that their reason for not being willing to even negotiate or consider flexible schooling at all was due to it being 'illegal,' in all cases except illness, I thought I would reach out and see what other peoples experiences of flexi schooling were and what their thoughts were about our situation- so thank you all for your replies. :)

Recently, I've spoken to two children on the spectrum who speak of inclusion units as being like a form of punishment, especially as badly-behaved NT children also use them. Effectively that's what they are, for surely it's the children's perception that matters - rather than the euphemism used by the school.

Schools have always dictated to parents and tended to patronise them with the notions that 'teachers know best', 'we make the rules;we don't need to justify them - but you must obey them'. They can even fear flexibility and compromise. All institutions suffer from a superiority complex which can often override common sense and humanity. 'Giving in' to parents (who tend to know their children's needs far better than any teacher) is seen as a threat to their collective professional ego, and they are prepared to lie and even use dirty tricks in order to protect it. I've seen this attitude so many times, and it's one reason why some parents are forced to home educate. They are driven to it. Sometimes I feel that teachers treat parents as they treat naughty pupils. Work with children can create a hierarchical and dictatorial personality among predisposed teachers which extends way beyond school life. You can recognise these people as being teachers even before they tell you. The profession also attracts people who are may be very good at working with children, but socially weak with adults. I should know, for I was one of them! I know another Aspie teacher and she feels exactly the same - very uncomfortable in the staff room or with parents.

They're being disingenuous and playing games with you. I can't believe that they truly believe that it's illegal. Their reason for refusing your legal right is ridiculous and illegal in itself - they're trying to bluff you that you have no such right, hoping that you'll given in. I'm not sure what I'd do in your situation. I'd think I'd make an official complaint to the governors and ask for the matter to be resolved as soon as possible, otherwise I'd be forced to take further action. You're also owed an apology - but that's something they really don't like doing. :(

Edited by Mihaela

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Livelife   

Have you thought about taking legal advice yourselves or possibly the citizens advice centre due to their use of illegal, maybe you could have your correspondence in writing so you have evidence of what they tell you that would encourage them only to state what was factually right and also you would have proof of everything and a detailed record of everything that has been said or done.

That's what I do everything in writing, it's because I have difficulty in communicating with people otherwise but it's also useful if there is a dispute they do tend to be more helpful and honest if everybody can see what they are doing and they have to sign it. Just a thought.

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Livelife   

I'm pleased that we've been of some help to you. :)

 

Recently, I've spoken to two children on the spectrum who speak of inclusion units as being like a form of punishment, especially as badly-behaved NT children also use them. Effectively that's what they are, for surely it's the children's perception that matters - rather than the euphemism used by the school.

Schools have always dictated to parents and tended to patronise them with the notions that 'teachers know best', 'we make the rules;we don't need to justify them - but you must obey them'. They can even fear flexibility and compromise. All institutions suffer from a superiority complex which can often override common sense and humanity. 'Giving in' to parents (who tend to know their children's needs far better than any teacher) is seen as a threat to their collective professional ego, and they are prepared to lie and even use dirty tricks in order to protect it. I've seen this attitude so many times, and it's one reason why some parents are forced to home educate. They are driven to it. Sometimes I feel that teachers treat parents as they treat naughty pupils. Work with children can create a hierarchical and dictatorial personality among predisposed teachers which extends way beyond school life. You can recognise these people as being teachers even before they tell you. The profession also attracts people who are may be very good at working with children, but socially weak with adults. I should know, for I was one of them! I know another Aspie teacher and she feels exactly the same - very uncomfortable in the staff room or with parents.

They're being disingenuous and playing games with you. I can't believe that they truly believe that it's illegal. Their reason for refusing your legal right is ridiculous and illegal in itself - they're trying to bluff you that you have no such right, hoping that you'll given in. I'm not sure what I'd do in your situation. I'd think I'd make an official complaint to the governors and ask for the matter to be resolved as soon as possible, otherwise I'd be forced to take further action. You're also owed an apology - but that's something they really don't like doing. :(

 

Well said I agree totally a very good explanation of why things are like they are in our schools.

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I have no experience of the education system from the point of view of a parent so this is just an idea. I have no idea if it is achievable.

 

Rather than sitting in an unsupervised inclusion unit or library and having the problem of unstructured time, could he do extra classes in the subjects he will continue to take? Even if it means joining a different group for that lesson. It means he will be supervised and getting extra practise at his subjects so it might help him achieve better grades.

So for example, if he drops history, could he join an extra maths or English lesson that is taking place at the same time? Or which ever subjects he is studying.

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Livelife   

I have no experience of the education system from the point of view of a parent so this is just an idea. I have no idea if it is achievable.

 

Rather than sitting in an unsupervised inclusion unit or library and having the problem of unstructured time, could he do extra classes in the subjects he will continue to take? Even if it means joining a different group for that lesson. It means he will be supervised and getting extra practise at his subjects so it might help him achieve better grades.

So for example, if he drops history, could he join an extra maths or English lesson that is taking place at the same time? Or which ever subjects he is studying.

You would like to think that this or something like this would be a commonsensical approach to creating a solution to what's in everybody's best interest. Unfortunately what's best for a child or using common sense doesn't always work when you have a school tied to rules for regulation sake and very little else. It's a good thought.

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