Decision to reinterpret whether flexischooling is allowed

Alison Sauer made this Freedom of Information request to Department for Education

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was successful.

Dear Department for Education,

I should like to request the following information in relation to a recent decision by your department.

============
DEFINITIONS

On the questions that follow, and for the purpose of this request

- the term DOCUMENTATION refers to ALL communications both internal and external and includes but is not limited to text messages, e-mails, faxes, letters and transcripts of telephone calls that are held by yourself or originated by you up to and including the end of business on 15th of March 2013.

the term FS refers to flexischooling whether spelt flexi-schooling, flexischooling or referred to by any other term.

the term THE DECISION is the decision taken by your department in February 2013 to reinterpret the legal position regarding FS and to the subsequent revisions of the attendance guidance and relevant section of the 2007 "Elective Home Education Guidelines"
=============

I should prefer to receive your reply in electronic format at this email address, however, I am happy to receive it by post if that is more convenient and my postal address is supplied.

It would be helpful if you were to provide any brief notes which might be necessary to understand the context of the information provided, although I recognise that you are not obliged to do this. If for any reason you feel this request is unclear, please contact me by email. For any of the questions or part of any question, if you are not the appropriate authority for the request please let me know as soon as is convenient.

If the information requested contains sections of confidential information, please blank out or remove these sections, and mark clearly that they have been removed.

QUESTIONS

1. Was a financial impact assessment conducted and were any projections drawn up on the likely financial impact of THE DECISION on the DfE's budgets and on schools' finances? Please provide DOCUMENTATION relating to all financial assessments and projections that were used in reaching THE DECISION.

2. What are your department’s best and worst case estimates, for academic years 2013-14 and 2014-15, of pupils moving from FS to full-time school and from FS to elective home education as a direct or indirect result of THE DECISION? Please include DOCUMENTATION relating to these estimates.

3. What assessment did the DfE conduct on the ability of schools to absorb the "extra" work imposed by FS pupils moving to full time school? What measures is the department taking to alleviate these pupil pressures on schools? Please provide DOCUMENTATION that formed part of any assessment in this regard.

4. Which stakeholders were consulted prior to reaching THE DECISION? Please send DOCUMENTATION evidencing all consultation that provided input into THE DECISION.

5. If your department decided that no consultation was necessary prior to reaching THE DECISION please provide DOCUMENTATION that supported the view that no consultation was necessary.

6. What measures is your department putting in place to support those children, including children with special needs and other vulnerable groups, who will be effectively forced out of schools as a result of THE DECISION? What support is your department putting in place for their parents/carers? Please send DOCUMENTATION evidencing the deliberations and considerations on this matter.

Yours faithfully,

Alison Sauer

Department for Education

Dear Ms Sauer

Thank you for your recent enquiry. A reply will be sent to you as soon as possible. For information the departmental standard for correspondence received is that responses should be sent within 20 working days as you are requesting information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Your correspondence has been allocated reference number 2013/0021978

Thank you

Department for Education
Public Communications Unit
Tel: 0370 000 2288

Dear Department for Education,

I should like to request the following information in relation to a
recent decision by your department.

============
DEFINITIONS

On the questions that follow, and for the purpose of this request

- the term DOCUMENTATION refers to ALL communications both internal
and external and includes but is not limited to text messages,
e-mails, faxes, letters and transcripts of telephone calls that are
held by yourself or originated by you up to and including the end
of business on 15th of March 2013.

the term FS refers to flexischooling whether spelt flexi-schooling,
flexischooling or referred to by any other term.

the term THE DECISION is the decision taken by your department in
February 2013 to reinterpret the legal position regarding FS and to
the subsequent revisions of the attendance guidance and relevant
section of the 2007 "Elective Home Education Guidelines"
=============

I should prefer to receive your reply in electronic format at this
email address, however, I am happy to receive it by post if that is
more convenient and my postal address is supplied.

It would be helpful if you were to provide any brief notes which
might be necessary to understand the context of the information
provided, although I recognise that you are not obliged to do this.
If for any reason you feel this request is unclear, please contact
me by email. For any of the questions or part of any question, if
you are not the appropriate authority for the request please let me
know as soon as is convenient.

If the information requested contains sections of confidential
information, please blank out or remove these sections, and mark
clearly that they have been removed.

QUESTIONS

1. Was a financial impact assessment conducted and were any
projections drawn up on the likely financial impact of THE DECISION
on the DfE's budgets and on schools' finances? Please provide
DOCUMENTATION relating to all financial assessments and projections
that were used in reaching THE DECISION.

2. What are your department’s best and worst case estimates, for
academic years 2013-14 and 2014-15, of pupils moving from FS to
full-time school and from FS to elective home education as a direct
or indirect result of THE DECISION? Please include DOCUMENTATION
relating to these estimates.

3. What assessment did the DfE conduct on the ability of schools to
absorb the "extra" work imposed by FS pupils moving to full time
school? What measures is the department taking to alleviate these
pupil pressures on schools? Please provide DOCUMENTATION that
formed part of any assessment in this regard.

4. Which stakeholders were consulted prior to reaching THE
DECISION? Please send DOCUMENTATION evidencing all consultation
that provided input into THE DECISION.

5. If your department decided that no consultation was necessary
prior to reaching THE DECISION please provide DOCUMENTATION that
supported the view that no consultation was necessary.

6. What measures is your department putting in place to support
those children, including children with special needs and other
vulnerable groups, who will be effectively forced out of schools as
a result of THE DECISION? What support is your department putting
in place for their parents/carers? Please send DOCUMENTATION
evidencing the deliberations and considerations on this matter.

Yours faithfully,

Alison Sauer

-------------------------------------------------------------------

Please use this email address for all replies to this request:
[FOI #154045 email]

Is [DfE request email] the wrong address for Freedom of
Information requests to Department for Education? If so, please
contact us using this form:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/contact

Disclaimer: This message and any reply that you make will be
published on the internet. Our privacy and copyright policies:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/offic...

If you find this service useful as an FOI officer, please ask your
web manager to link to us from your organisation's FOI page.

show quoted sections

Department for Education

Dear Ms Sauer,
Thank you for your request for information, which was received on 21
March.  You requested “the following information in relation to a recent
decision by your department.

DEFINITIONS
    
On the questions that follow, and for the purpose of this request

 

The term DOCUMENTATION refers to ALL communications both internal and
external and includes but is not limited to text messages, e-mails, faxes,
letters and transcripts of telephone calls that are held by yourself or
originated by you up to and including the end of business on 15th of March
2013.

 

The term FS refers to flexischooling whether spelt flexi-schooling,
flexischooling or referred to by any other term.

 

The term THE DECISION is the decision taken by your department in February
2013 to reinterpret the legal position regarding FS and to the subsequent
revisions of the attendance guidance and relevant section of the 2007
"Elective Home Education Guidelines"

 

I should prefer to receive your reply in electronic format at this email
address, however, I am happy to receive it by post if that is more
convenient and my postal address is supplied.

 

It would be helpful if you were to provide any brief notes which might be
necessary to understand the context of the information provided, although
I recognise that you are not obliged to do this. If for any reason you
feel this request is unclear, please contact me by email. For any of the
questions or part of any question, if you are not the appropriate
authority for the request please let me know as soon as is convenient.

 

If the information requested contains sections of confidential
information, please blank out or remove these sections, and mark clearly
that they have been removed.
    
QUESTIONS
    
     1. Was a financial impact assessment conducted and were any
     projections drawn up on the likely financial impact of THE DECISION
     on the DfE's budgets and on schools' finances? Please provide
     DOCUMENTATION relating to all financial assessments and projections
     that were used in reaching THE DECISION.
    
     2. What are your department’s best and worst case estimates, for
     academic years 2013-14 and 2014-15, of pupils moving from FS to
     full-time school and from FS to elective home education as a direct
     or indirect result of THE DECISION? Please include DOCUMENTATION
     relating to these estimates.
    
     3. What assessment did the DfE conduct on the ability of schools to
     absorb the "extra" work imposed by FS pupils moving to full time
     school? What measures is the department taking to alleviate these
     pupil pressures on schools? Please provide DOCUMENTATION that
     formed part of any assessment in this regard.
    
     4. Which stakeholders were consulted prior to reaching THE
     DECISION? Please send DOCUMENTATION evidencing all consultation
     that provided input into THE DECISION.
    
     5. If your department decided that no consultation was necessary
     prior to reaching THE DECISION please provide DOCUMENTATION that
     supported the view that no consultation was necessary.
    
     6. What measures is your department putting in place to support
     those children, including children with special needs and other
     vulnerable groups, who will be effectively forced out of schools as
     a result of THE DECISION? What support is your department putting
     in place for their parents/carers? Please send DOCUMENTATION
     evidencing the deliberations and considerations on this matter.”

 

I have dealt with your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000
(“the Act”).

 

I have established that:

 

1.     No financial impact assessment was conducted.  Schools receive a
full unit of funding for pupils on their admission register including
those in flexi-schooling arrangements.  If a pupil was withdrawn from
school to receive full-time elective home education the school would be
able to fill the school place with another pupil.

2.     The Department collects information on the number of pupils on
schools’ admission registers but not information specifically relating to
pupils who are in flexi-schooling arrangements. Therefore we have no
estimates of pupils moving from flexi-schooling to full-time school or
from flexi-schooling to elective home education.

3.     No assessment was conducted on the ability of schools to absorb the
‘extra’ work impressed on pupils who are currently in a flexi-school
arrangement moving to full-time at school.  This is because there would be
no extra burden placed on schools. By the nature of the funding schools
receive, they are required to provide full time education (i.e. pupils
attending school each day it is open for education) for all their pupils.
Those pupils who are in a flexi-schooling arrangement are not utilising
the full requirement of the funding schools receive.

4.     and 5. No specific consultation was carried out in regard to
flexi-schooling and no consideration was given to such a consultation.  As
you are aware, the Department conducted a formal consultation on the
‘Advice on school attendance’.  In response to this consultation the
Department was asked for clarification on the use of Code B, which is used
to record pupils who attend educational activities outside schools’
premises. Some respondents wanted the Department to make clear that
educational activity outside the school premises did not include pupils
doing school work at home. A small number of respondents wanted
clarification on flexi-schooling.

6.     Section 19 of the Education Act 1996 places a duty upon local
authorities to provide a suitable education at school or otherwise for
each child of compulsory school age who, for reasons of illness, exclusion
or otherwise, would not receive it unless such arrangements were made. 
The education must be full-time unless the child’s health makes this
inappropriate.  Suitable education is defined in as ‘efficient education
suitable to the age, ability, aptitude and to any special educational
needs’, the child may have.  These are the arrangements that should be
used when pupils are unable to benefit from mainstream education.

As you are aware, flexi-schooling is a term used for an arrangement
whereby children are partly educated at school and partly educated at
home.  Unlike full-time home education any agreement between a pupil’s
parents and a school for the child to be flexi-schooled is at the head
teacher’s discretion

 

The Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 require the
proprietor of every school to keep an admission register and attendance
register; the admission register contains the personal details of every
pupil (including pupils under a flexi-schooling arrangement) that the
school educates while the attendance register is used to record pupils’
attendance.

 

The number of pupils entered on the admission register is the basis of
funding that is allocated to schools.  The vast majority of the
Department's funding for education on a day to day basis is channelled
through local authorities in the form of the Dedicated Schools Grant
(DSG). The DSG in turn is delegated, in the main, to each individual
school, via a local formula. This formula, which is used to decide how
much funding each individual school will receive, is designed and agreed
by each local authority in consultation with its Schools Forum; but the
majority of funding is based on pupil numbers. This means that schools can
receive a full unit of funding for pupils under a flexi-schooling
agreement. Therefore, pupils under a flexi-schooling agreement are assumed
to be in receipt of a full-time place at their school and the school
receives a full-unit of funding for such pupils.

 

The following information may also be useful to you.

 

As you are also aware, on 22 February the Government published revised
advice on school attendance. As part of this advice we categorically said
that schools could not agree to a flexi-schooling arrangement, you will be
interested to know that the flexi-schooling reference in this advice has
been removed.

In March the Government clarified its expectation on how schools should
record pupil’s school attendance under a flexi-schooling arrangement.

We advised that Schools should not record a pupil as attending an off-site
educational activity unless the school is actively responsible for
approving and supervising the off-site education, and has established
arrangements to ensure the safety and the welfare of the pupil while being
educated off-site.

Where parents have entered in to flexi-schooling arrangements, schools may
continue to offer those arrangements.  Pupils should be marked absent from
school during sessions when they are receiving home education.

 

Schools are ultimately responsible for the attainment of every pupil on
their admission register.  Whilst being home educated, parents and carers
are responsible for pupils, not schools.

 

If you have any queries about this letter, please contact me. Please
remember to quote the reference number 2013/0021978 in any future
communications.

 

If you are unhappy with the way your request has been handled, you should
make a complaint to the Department by writing to me within two calendar
months of the date of this letter.  Your complaint will be considered by
an independent review panel, who were not involved in the original
consideration of your request. 

 

If you are not content with the outcome of your complaint to the
Department, you may then contact the Information Commissioner’s Office.
Yours sincerely,

Karen Kennedy
Behaviour and Attendance in Schools Division
[email address]
[1]www.education.gov.uk

show quoted sections

Communications via the GSi may be automatically logged, monitored and/or
recorded for legal purposes.

References

Visible links
1. http://www.education.gov.uk/

Fiona Nicholson left an annotation ()

I've updated my flexischooling page to reflect this http://edyourself.org/articles/flexischo...