Flexible schooling

From The SchomEmunity Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

Related terms



Flexible schooling is a loose term that can be used in reference to a number of educational approaches. However the term is usually used in conjunction with a pupil centred approach to learning, where the needs of the pupil come first.

Many parents who choose to educate their children outside of the formal education system home schooling also attend flexible schools run by organisations such as the Human Scale Education group who encourage a more varied approach to learning. Their schools offer small classes of mixed ages. Parents are given a democratic say in the running of the school.

The term can also be used in reference to more conventional schools that offer a broader curriculum to pupils. For example, in the UK, allowing year nine pupils to start GSCE syllabuses. The appeal of this approach is that it allows pupils to widen the subjects that they take on at Key Stage Four. The extra time created within the timetable can also be used for other opportunities, such as enterprise projects.

Such initiative add depth and breadth to pupils education, it encourages teamwork, but also independent research and study skills. The extra time allowed for such pursuits ensure that other teaching and learning is not disrupted. However, teachers need to enthusiastic and well informed to support pupils.

The definition can also be used in reference to pupils that are registered with a school but are absent for periods of time, for example due to long periods of illness or pregnancy. It is common for such pupils to be educated at home (cf home schooling). Some local authorities offer one to one teaching provision for pupils that have been excluded from main stream schooling, their curriculum tends to be wider with less focus on academic pursuits, and a greater emphasis on life skills.

Education in the developing world has moved towards a more non-formal approach over the last few decades. As the needs of the pupils differ so widely and skills are given a greater focus a less academic approach is favoured (Rodgers, 2004), though to different levels in different countries. The interest does not however lie solely in the developing nations, as western governments have begun to realise that in such dramatically changing societies it could be beneficial to offer a wider range of education and school environments.

A move towards a more flexible timetable could bring big changes for teaching staff. Especially in the UK since the ‘Flexible Working’ legislation of 2003, which stated that all employees with children under six, or disabled children under eighteen are entitled to negotiate more flexible work hours with their employers. For head teachers this has meant an increase in the number of part time teachers and split timetabling. Responses towards this have been mixed; studies show that part time teachers suffer from lower stress levels; however their career development opportunities are affected.


Rogers, Alan. (2004) Looking again at non-formal and informal education - towards a new paradigm, The encyclopaedia of informal education website. http://www.infed.org/biblio/non_formal_paradigm.htm (visited 01-July-05)

Roberts, Caroline (2005) Flexible Working, TES, May 23 2005. http://www.tes.co.uk/search/story/?story_id=2097489 (visited 09-July-05)

Useful Links

Human Scale Education
A UK based organisation that run a number of schools offering a non formal approach to education. The site lists the schools and the ethos of the scheme.
http://www.hse.org.uk (Visited 01-July-05)

Families Online
Lists articles books and websites that will help parents searching for alternative schooling for their children.
http://www.familiesonline.co.uk (Visited 01-July-05)