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Response to SG from Mike Whiting - 130212

Page history last edited by Sarita 8 years, 5 months ago

FrontPage  Individual Letters to KCC

 

This is a response I received from Mike Whiting on 13th February to my email dated 22nd Jan. It is exactly the same as others' response from KCC!!

 

Dear Mrs Goacher

 

Thank you for your email of 22 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 such a thorough and informative response. 

 

I completely agree with you that children educated at home can be educated to an equal or better standard as the children attending school. As Patrick Leeson, Corporate Director for Education, Learning and Skills said in the Committee meeting, many parents educate their children "in a very confident way, a very responsible way, and the quality of what children experience is very good and those children have access to a wide range of opportunities outside the home as well to stimulate their learning and promote their educational achievements." This is certainly my belief. 

 

Kent County Council's Elective Home Education Consultant (EHEC) does hear from parents however that are not as confident and approach the County Council to request support and advice. I have spoken to Mr Fox, KCC's Elective Home Education Consultant, and he explained to me that, on the day we met, he had received approximately 20 enquiries from parents wanting our help. 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 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. 

 

With regard to your point about Graham Badman, I can confirm that he was not employed by Kent County Council at the time he was undertaking the home education review and therefore his comments were not made on behalf of Kent County Council.

 

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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