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2012 KCC Attempt to Register and Monitor HE

Page history last edited by Sarita 6 years, 1 month ago


I just saw this today but there is an apology to home educators on the KCC website regarding comments made about linking He children to schools. http://www.kent.gov.uk/education_and_learning/school_education/applying_for_a_school_place/educating_your_child_at_home.aspx



A follow up letter to Patrick Leeson has been drafted and is located here. We have yet to receive a response from PL to our open letter, which is now 22 days overdue. However, it would seem that councillors have finally got the message about polite and courteous acknowledgements



For the last four days home educators, and Graham Stuart MP, have finally been receiving responses from KCC to their emails. This is as a result of one home educator lodging a formal complaint at KCC! Well, the news is not good - Mike Whiting, Patrick Leeson and Gary Cooke have all sent us the SAME email. This is completely unacceptable and those HEers who have received the standardised email are in the process of replying. Even though we have received a response, they have failed to address our concerns and our call to consult with us.


We have, as a group, failed to receive a response from Patrick Leeson to our open letter. The action group will set up a page to start a response to Patrick Leeson from those of us who signed the open letter requesting a meaningful response and requesting possible dates for a meeting with him. If you wish to contribute to this response please go to the action wiki or email me (Sarita) for access.


We would also like to ask you to publicise this public wiki to as many Kent home educators as you can. KCC have endorsed plans to employ 3 more people for monitoring us. Who knows what kind of person will be employed to carry out a job that they have no legal entitlement to do. Tim Fox is not in any position to help us. They are acting outside the law, and have been for many years and, now when confronted about further actions to register and monitor us, they continue to fob us off. They are breaching our, and our children's, civil liberties - we cannot allow this.



Things are moving pretty fast - so if you have any correspondence that you have received from KCC and wish to share it please do add it if you have a login or email me and I can add it for you.


The page KCC Plans has all the details of what KCC proposals are including the webcast of the meeting where council members discussed Children Educated at Home. 


Kent County Council - Proposed Changes to HE Policy


Plans are afoot by the newly structured Education, Learning and Skills team at KCC to not only review current EHE policy but also proposals have last week been put forward to considerably increase registration and monitoring activity - to the point of creating 3 new posts in order to monitor the progress of all known home educated children in Kent once a year but also to find all unknown HE children. 


The following document appeared on a couple of national HE lists and having read through it we are extremely concerned about what is about to happen here in Kent. 


Kent Children and Young People Educated at Home - 13 Jan 2012



The person behind this document is Patrick Leeson who is currently Corporate Director of Education, Learning and Skills (ELS) at KCC. Prior to KCC (jul 2011) he was Director of Education and Care at Ofsted, when Ofsted published its report 'Local Authorities and Home Education', calling for a registration and monitoring scheme for all home educated children. The document that he has produced to implement here in Kent is directly lifted from that report. At the time, the report was condemned not only by the home education community nationally but also by Graham Stuart MP (you can view his comments here) and other supporters of the home ed movement. Leesons' career in education has only ever been from the schooled perspective.


Document Summary:

Essentially KCC are trying to extend their legal remits and responsibilities in stating that as part of their self-imposed duty to safeguard all children, they have to register and monitor all home ed children and find all unknown HE children as well. It goes on to state what they are currently doing and then what plans they have to achieve this.


What they are doing currently to achieve these aims:

1. They state that work is already underway to ascertain the extent of unknown home ed children. (They don't say how, but could it be that the recent truancy patrols are a part of this?).

2. Upon deregistration, the LA now requests information from various other agencies (we're assuming without the consent of the parent) in order to prioritise home visits. (I am trying to find out whether they can do this legally as prior to all of this Tim Fox used to have to send a letter requesting whether he could share details with other agencies.).

3. Due to the restructuring at KCC, home education no longer falls under the remit of Admissions and Transport but Advocacy and Entitlement. Within that department, Elective Home Education falls under the heading "Inclusion"!!


Policy changes and proposals:

Three new posts are to be created to ensure that all registered home educated children are visited once per year. These new positions will be responsible for:

- visiting home ed families in order to monitor children's progress (they have no legal duty to do this)

- take action when children educated at home are not receiving a 'satisfactory education' (this is not a legal definition and opens a huge can of worms for us if they decide to apply their own measures of suitability)

- appraise the progress of those identified as 'a cause for concern' (again, the distinct lack of definition as to what is a cause for concern is worrying as it could be highly subjective)

- ascertaining if there are any 'unregistered' home educated children (not only is this beyond their remit but using the terms 'registered and unregistered' have connotations of licensing and permission granting, which they have no right to do)

- establishing reasons for home education (the current government guidelines state that LAs should not be concerned by this, although I can see that they should know in order to improve their own services, however I feel they may use the information to intimidate and bully parents to place their children back into school or preventing withdrawal)

- gathering information about ethnicity and language

- acting on Ofsted's recommendations, namely, to explore reasons for withdrawal from school prior to deregistration with a view to keeping the child at school, ensuring that Connexions are put into contact with all HE children aged 14+, to create an information service for parents, training for LA officers on safeguarding and home visits. 


The document concludes by stating that all known HE children will be visited this year. 


Why we should be concerned:

 1. Firstly, there is no guarantee what the new post holders will be like, what their background is and how they feel about HE, regardless of any 'training' they might receive. It is clear what their job description is - registration and monitoring. Given that they are being given a license by the LA to act outside the law, one can only imagine the type of people they might recruit to do this!


2. This is a charter to set up a registration scheme, whereupon, the LA will be able to exhaust all their resources trying to keep children at school, when it might not be the best place for them. In exploring the reasons, it is possible that they may make it harder for parents to withdraw their children, imposing conditions and in effect a kind of permission-seeking process in order for parents to home educate. Also in using the terminology, they are seeking to use the deregistration process, not as a notification to cease funding a school place, but in order to keep an HE register.


3. They are acting way beyond their legal remit and surprising after the uproar over the Badman recommendations and the failed legislation. The Ofsted report did come out after all that but it was still condemned by Graham Stuart MP - Chairman of the Education Select Committee (click here to see his response). 


4. The document is so full of inaccuracies and misquotes in terms of their own duties and capacities, that it is clear there is little understanding of the law within KCC, or indeed how home ed works, which makes for extremely bad policy-making (Graham Badman, anyone?). 


5. This is an arrogant attempt to implement a policy that has failed on a national level. There is no mention of working positively with home educating parents so that we may feel compelled to forge a good relationship with the LA, no mention of ways they can enhance our children's education. It is disgusting that they can justify the spending on duties that they do not have when they could arrange (cost-free) for our children to be able to access exam centres, get discounts from Kent County Suppliers, keep a database of recommended resources such as tutors, courses, workshops etc.. Or they could be ploughing back the money into their failing schools!!!


Next Steps:

There is some work to be done in order to stop this nonsense, educate the ELS team on how the law works with regard to EHE and also an opportunity to approach them and work on a policy with them - to state what kind of a relationship we would like to foster with them so that we can all live harmoniously, with those who want support from the LA getting it and those who don't want anything to do with them, being left alone. The one duty they do have is to consult with all stakeholders when they draft new policy. This they have not done!


We need to approach them soon, as a single group, as their work is already under way, and we want to affect the draft process positively right from the start. To get involved, carry on reading, sign up to this wiki and start writing letters. Join us if you wish to collaborate on any group responses we send to KCC.


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