Aberdeenshire Council has vetoed a move to develop a policy on flexi-schooling for children.
Members of the authority’s Education and Children Services’ committee voted against a motion to have the flexible option developed.
Instead, the council will continue to review its home education policy which will be brought back before councillors for discussion at a later date.
The flexi-schooling motion had been proposed by Labour councillor Alison Evison and seconded by the SNP’s Charles Buchan.
But committee chair Councillor Gillian Owen stressed that the discussion was not about making a decision on adopting or encouraging the practice of flexi-schooling but instead an opportunity to discuss the wider context.
Afterwards, Councillor Evison admitted it was disappointing that an agreement could not be reached with the Conservative/LibDem-led Administration to include the words ‘flexi-schooling’ in the process.
She said: “This would have given a clearer indication that the needs of each individual child will be given priority.
“However, we can take comfort in the fact that Aberdeenshire’s home-schooling policy will now be updated and we will work to ensure that flexi-schooling is clearly addressed within this.
“There is no record of detailed analysis of flexi-schooling having been carried out previously in Aberdeenshire and, given increasing demand, it remains appropriate that this analysis is carried out.
“I am pleased that our SNP/Labour/Communities Opposition Partnership has been able to show political leadership, respond to local concerns, and put an issue on the agenda which would otherwise not have been there.”
Councillor Owen said: “I must stress today’s discussion was not about making a decision on adopting or encouraging the practice of flexi schooling.
“It was simply an opportunity to discuss the national context, to understand the advantages and disadvantages of it, and to decide whether we should progress with a stand alone policy on flexi schooling.
“Committee agreed an amendment to the motion, acknowledging that the home education policy is currently being reviewed by officers and that this should be brought back for discussion at a later date.
“The fact is that legislation does not enable us to consider flexi schooling requests separately to home schooling requests anyway, so updating our home education policy to better guide parents on flexible options is where this is best placed.”
Aberdeenshire currently has arrangements in place to support flexible schooling in relation to young people with additional support needs through the GIRFEC – Getting It Right For Every Child – processes.
Any other applications would be assessed on a case-by-case basis and the ultimate decision will depend upon the proposal put forward, the strength of this in terms of meeting pupils’ needs and the costs involved.