This has been passed on from a home education group and doesnt sound good.
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 I am extremely concerned about what is about to happen here in Kent. http://democracy.kent.gov.uk/documents/ ... 20home.pdf
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 and other supporters of the home ed movement. Leesons' career in education has only ever been from the schooled perspective.
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 (I'm 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 (again, I am trying to find out what this will mean).
Policy changes and proposals:
Three new posts are to be created to ensure that all registered home educated children are visited once per year (I'm not sure how they can ensure this when they have no legal recourse for this). 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. (These recommendations do worry me, because there is not really one thing there for the benefit of our children, who might not want to pursue a life driven by their standards)
The document concludes by stating that all known HE children will be visited this year (how exactly, when we could all refuse, I would love to know!).
Why I am concerned:
1. Firstly, this won't be a case of good, old Tim Fox popping round for a cup of tea, a chat and a pat on the back. 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, I 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 I am surprised 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 (email me if you want to see Graham Stuart's response).
4. The document is so full of inaccuracies and misquotes in terms of their own duties and capacities, that it is clear to me that nobody at KCC understands the law, 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. I think it is disgusting that they can justify the spending on duties that they do not have when they could arrange (cost-free) for us 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!!!
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!