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Open Letter to Patrick Leeson - 012012

Page history last edited by Clare 8 years, 10 months ago

FrontPage KCC Plans Responses to KCC Responses from KCC What You Can Do

 

This letter has now been sent - please do not edit it further but please do add your signature or comments.

 

Dear Mr. Leeson,

 

We are a group of Kent home educators who are extremely concerned about KCC proposals for a new Children Educated at Home policy. We write with regard to a document issued by yourself on behalf of the Education Learning and Skills Directorate, dated 13 January 2012, subject: “Kent Children and Young People Educated at Home”.

 

We understand that you are proposing changes to the existing Kent Children Educated at Home Policy. Home educators welcome a review and detailed scrutiny of the existing policy, as it no longer reflects government guidelines issued in 2007 and statutory guidance issued in 2009.

 

This review affects every home educating family and as stakeholders we request to be consulted on your proposed changes and recommendations prior to any submission to Council Scrutiny. Kent home educators have for many years worked alongside KCC, despite its lack of adherence to the 2007 EHE Guidelines and proper consultation.

 

However, this latest string of proposals has not been constructed in consultation with home educators, nor it would seem the council’s legal department. Home educators in Kent are deeply concerned by the lack of understanding of the law with regard to home education and of the actual legal duties that the local authority has in this respect.

 

The document you have produced is founded upon two erroneous principles according to current English law and is outside of KCC’s legal duties and responsibilities. First, in the introduction (p.145) you state that the local authority “has a duty to ensure that the education provided is appropriate in terms of the law.” However, the local authority has no such duty. Section 7 of the 1996 Education Act places that duty firmly with parents. In seeking to assume this responsibility the council may be opening itself up to actions of negligence. The LA’s only duty is to make enquiries where there is reason to believe that a suitable education is not being received (section 437, Education Act 1996).

 

Secondly, the document also states: “..the LA has a duty to safeguard the well-being of all children within its area.” The duties of the LA are contained in section 175(1) of the Education Act 2002 and sections 17 and 47 of the Children Act 1989, neither of which state that an LA has the duty or the power to ensure or to actively investigate the welfare of all children.  They state that LA officers must promote the welfare of children in the pursuit of their existing duties and report problems if they become aware of them. There is no duty to seek out families where there are no existing concerns. Home education is not in and of itself a reason for concern . This is confirmed in the 2007 Elective Home Education Guidelines to Local Authorities.

 

Based on these two statements, it would appear the ELS Directorate will exceed its duty as stated in Law, without taking into account the fine detail of the actual proposals. An Impact Assessment should have been conducted; a breakdown analysis of your proposals and how they will cause the LA to act outside of its remit is to follow.

 

The Directorate are looking to make cuts and redundancies within the education sector yet is about to increase spending to introduce a system beyond its remit and powers and, more importantly, beyond what it is required to do by law. This appears to be a misappropriation of funds.

 

These proposals will only serve to alienate the home education community when KCC should be developing and fostering positive relationships by seeking their views. In attempting to implement what is in effect an ultra vires registration and monitoring scheme, and assuming duties where you have none, you are treading on the freedoms of every parent and child in the county. This does not engender confidence among home educators. If the LA really wanted to support home educating parents, it would respect the Law and the rights of parents to carry out their legal duties without uninvited interference from government. It would also seek the views of the home educating community – not everyone wants or needs support from the LA and the council should respect this whilst providing support for those who do request it.

 

We would like to remind you of the local authority’s statutory duty to involve all stakeholders in the formulation of policy. Section 138 of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 imposes such a duty on all local authorities to inform, consult and involve the people they serve in order to meet the needs and expectations of the citizens who use their services. 

 

We expect this existing process to be suspended and a new draft policy be drawn up in conjunction with home educators. We also ask that the Directorate notify all known home educators of its intentions to review the EHE policy and detail how they can input into the process via a public consultation. Through local group networks and meetings, we can disseminate the information to ensure that as many home educators as possible are aware and can participate in the consultation process.

 

We would certainly welcome the opportunity to meet with you and all relevant and interested parties to discuss how the LA can satisfy its legal obligations whilst respecting the freedoms and rights of its citizens. After all, the LA is there to act in service to the people, not the other way around.

 

 

We look forward to hearing from you to arrange a mutually convenient time for us to meet,

 

 

Kent Home Educators Action Group

 

Comments (13)

vanda alexander said

at 12:55 am on Jan 23, 2012

Although I am not known to KCC please add my name to this letter.

phoenix said

at 11:26 pm on Jan 23, 2012

Though I am not under KCC's jurisdiction, please add my name.

Lisa Dillon said

at 11:31 pm on Jan 23, 2012

Please add my name. Currently home educating in Medway.

Jane Pointon said

at 1:31 pm on Jan 24, 2012

Jane Pointon - I am not in KCC but please add my name.

susanrice said

at 2:06 pm on Jan 24, 2012

If there is still time, please also add my husband Nick's name. We are known to KCC and are in the Sevenoaks area.

Maire Stafford said

at 2:53 pm on Jan 24, 2012

Maire and Bruce Stafford please.

Clare said

at 3:38 pm on Jan 24, 2012

Section 138 of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007

I am not sure this is where the requirement to consult lies?
Is this to do with Health only?

I think it is the Merits Committee or someone like that which imposes the duty - I will check

Ian & Susan Smales said

at 3:44 pm on Jan 24, 2012

Please add our names - if it's not too late

Clare said

at 4:15 pm on Jan 24, 2012

Ok I checked and now see that this LGPIHA 2007 does cover local authority duties.
I had been thinking of
the Better Regulation Executive's Code of Practice on Consulation - which pertains to national govt.

http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http://www.bis.gov.uk/files/file47158.pdf

dewbolee said

at 4:54 pm on Jan 24, 2012

Please add my name.

Fran Slater said

at 8:38 pm on Jan 24, 2012

Please add my name. Fran Slater

KitKatLamb said

at 11:36 pm on Jan 24, 2012

Put our signatures to it as well please - Richard and Katya Lamb. We are disgusted by how wrong KCC has got the policy.

Sarita said

at 8:53 pm on Jan 25, 2012

Thanks, Clare. I didn't think of that!!

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