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Reply to Chez Moy from Mike Whiting

Page history last edited by Maire Stafford 8 years, 5 months ago

Reply from mike whiting: Dear Ms Moy

Thank you for your email of 21st January regarding the Education, Learning and Skills Policy Overview and Scrutiny Committee. I have received correspondence from other parents who have raised similar questions as those you made in your email so I hope you will excuse my standardised response.

I am sorry to learn that you were displeased by the comments made by the Members. The majority of Members are not education professionals by background, however, I can testify that we do take the responsibilities placed upon us by our electorate very seriously and this includes meeting with the professional officers to gain a detailed understanding of the policies put to us. I apologise if you feel that in this instance we were not as briefed as you would have wished and I thank you for taking the time to send me your informative enquiry. In response to your question about the statute, I am aware that Mr Gary Cooke wishes to apologise for any incorrect statement he made during the Committee meeting. He had thought this to be the case, however, he now realises no new statue is planned.

I agree with you that many families that home educate are not lonely and the children gain a good education from the outings and activities available to them, that would not necessarily be available at a school. That said, I believe Mr Kit Smith was speaking from his own personal experience and was expressing the desire of some parents he has met to receive more support and advice from the County Council. Having spoken to our Elective Home Education Consultant (EHEC), Mr Fox, I understand that he does receive requests from parents for support from KCC, in fact, on the day we met, he had received approximately such 20 enquiries from parents. Following receipt of those enquiries, Mr Fox, writes to the parent to offer an appointment which they can choose to accept or decline. The type of support Mr Fox offers on his visit may be one or more of the following:

Advice for parents choosing whether to educate at home;
Advice on curriculum planning & providing sources of learning materials;
Encouraging links with other home educators and support groups;
Providing links with other services such as distance-learning groups, further education colleges and the CXK service; and
Will act as a referee for home educated children for college entrance or employment.
This support by the Council is referred to in part 5 of the Elective Home Education Guidelines for Local Authorities 2007. Mr Fox informs me that he receives positive feedback from parental surveys and that offering home visits is a long established practice in Kent and many other local authorities. The additional three staff proposed would support Mr Fox with this work and Kent County Council does intend to involve home educators before any changes to support for Elective Home Education are finalised.

Mr Fox is in regular contact with the various home education bodies and if you would like him to attend one of those groups so that he can provide you with further details on home visits, then I know he would be delighted to do so. He can be contacted at tim.fox@kent.gov.uk.

The only circumstance when engaging with the local authority is no longer voluntary basis if it appears to the Council that a child is not receiving a suitable education, as we do have a statutory duty to act in these cases. The Education Act 1996 states that if this happens, we are required to serve notice in writing to the parent to provide evidence of the education provided within 15 days.

I would like to conclude by clarifying our intention is to provide the best outcomes to the young people of this county. We realise that “one size does not fit all” and therefore there needs to be a range of educational opportunities available and that parents are best placed to decide what is best for their child.

Yours sincerely

Mike Whiting
Cabinet Member for Education, Learning and Skills

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