Monday, 25 February 2013
As somebody commented here yesterday, many years ago I flexi-schooled one of my daughters. I did not call it that; I simply noticed that she was falling behind academically and started keeping her at home for two or three days a week and teaching her myself until she had caught up. Both the school and an Educational Psychologist from Haringey, the local authority, told me at the time that I was breaking the law and could be prosecuted for condoning truancy. I told them to go ahead and prosecute if they felt like it. This was between 1994 and 1998.
Readers will probably know by now that the Department for Education have recently announced that this practice is definitely not allowed and that if a child is registered at a school, then he or she must attend full-time. In the past, many schools have turned a blind eye to this sort of arrangement or come to an accommodation for parents who wish to educate their children like this. After all, they continue to get the entire Age Weighted Pupil Unit, the money , whether the pupil attends full or part-time.
Why has the Department for Education suddenly cracked down on flexi-schooling? I think that it might possibly have something to do with our old friend Alison Sauer. As long as this sort of thing was being done informally with just a handful of kids here and there; there was no reason for anybody to be too bothered about it. It is when it started being heavily promoted as an option and represented as a legal alternative that the DfE began to get a little uneasy. You can see their point; there is scope for a few rackets here of various sorts. These might range from schools claiming funding for twice as many pupils as are actually attending, to parents who for reasons other than the purely educational, only want their children to attend school for a few days a week.
Where does Alison Sauer come into all this? As many readers will know, she runs a company which offers training to local authorities. A while ago, she decided that the future, the real money, lay in flexi-schooling, rather than running the odd training session. She accordingly revamped her company, renamed it and set up a new website which was geared more towards flexi-schooling than it was ordinary home education. See:
The Department for Education did not like the way that this trend was moving and since more and more schools were entering into arrangements of this sort, which might possible be unlawful, they decided to issue new guidance, which effectively banned the practice. This might be part of a general move towards making sure that pupils spend as much time as possible in school. The new plans for GRT children might tie in with this trend. Had people not shouted about it and held conferences and generally promoted the thing, I have an idea that this would not have happened. It is a classic case of one person spoiling it for everybody else.
On an unrelated note, I must say a few words about comments made here recently. It has been suggested that I am selectively quoting or misrepresenting those who comment. This is bound to happen, because I literally do not understand a lot of the time what people are trying to say. The words are English alright and the grammar and syntax correct, but the sentences themselves make no sense. Take, as a typical example; ‘Parents usually act from a place of love for their children’. What on earth can this mean? That most parents love their children? If so, why the devil does the writer not simply say so? You see my problem; I am compelled to decode stuff like this and from time to time, I get it wrong . If people would only write in plain English, then this would not happen! Can anybody here tell me what a 'place of love' is?