New models for organising education: ‘Flexi-schooling’ – how one school does it well

Paul Gutherson

Janette Mountford-Lees

This report describes and comments on how Hollinsclough has supported ‘flexi-schooling’, an approach to education which offers to parents, some of whom wish to educate their children at home, opportunities for part-time attendance at the school

Our interest in the flexi-school approach began at a time when we had falling numbers at Hollinsclough: at one point we only had five children on the roll. The fear was that the school would no longer be deemed viable – a big blow for the village and the local community. During this time we had an enquiry from a parent who home-schooled her children, asking if we would consider part-time education for her children as she had difficulty finding a school that would agree to this. The idea seemed to fit with Hollinsclough’s approach to inclusive education and with the support of the then Director of Education for Staffordshire we began to investigate the possibilities of flexi-schooling.

We believe that education should be tailored to the needs of each child, and responsive to their different but developing abilities, irrespective of their age. One of the advantages of such a small school is that we get to know each child and their family to a depth that may not be possible in a larger school. This means we can give each child a personalised learning plan with all the advantages of, for example, one-to-one tuition as well as participation in group work and whole class teaching. We felt that we could develop a working partnership with parents who electively home-school their children but still seek some support from the school system.