Kent home educators beware

Kent home educators beware

Postby Hope » Tue Jan 17, 2012 12:39 pm

This is very worrying - targeting free thinkers :thinks: :police:


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/s29354/Item%20B6%20Children%20educated%20at%20home.pdf

Background:
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.

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 (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!!!
Hope
 
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Re: Kent home educators beware

Postby FASEN8R » Tue Jan 17, 2012 10:07 pm

Hope wrote:This is very worrying - targeting free thinkers :thinks: :police:


I cant help but share your concern regarding this article Hope.
I'm currently trying to find out if they have such plans for this area.
Is it to be implemented nationwide?


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.


3 new posts?? How many home schooled children are there in the Kent area?? :puzz:
Our local Education Officer told us that in the whole of North East Lincolnshire there are only between 55 and 60 Home Educated children and as far as i'm aware there is only him doing the job of spying :giggle: ....sorry I meant 'monitoring' home educators! LOL

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 feel this is extremely important IF you want it. If you dont, you should have the choice to opt out of having any relationship whatsoever with the LA.
We are very lucky in all fairness to our LA. Our Education Officer is most friendly and we both came to the understanding that we are ONLY going to have him 'involved' IF AND ONLY IF we feel that we are gaining something of use.
On the other hand..... Whereas education is concerned, he doesn't seem to have any idea whatsoever as to what children 'should' know/be aware of at their individual ages!! I was quite shocked at this because I would of thought that an Education Officers job would be to ensure that the child/children were being educated suitable to their age, ability and aptitude??? As clearly stated within the Education Act.
Also, as you have quite rightly pointed out..........WHO decides whether the education is 'suitable' or 'satisfactory'?? :thinks:
We put this question to our local Ed Off and a retired teacher that he kindly brought round for our benefit (**will explain later...) and neither of them could give a definitive answer and pointed out, quite rightly, that each child is different. My question is this.....Who has the HIGHEST AUTHORITY when it comes to that decision of what your child requires? The LA or the Parent/guardian that is doing the home educating?? Theres no contest in my opinion.....and they couldn't disagree!!


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!!!


Again I fully agree with your comments. We have identified a local centre where our children could sit their exams IF they so chose to, BUT AT A COST TO US.
As you are aware, no funding is available for us rebels!! :giggle:

As for your comment regarding their failing schools......did you read my recent involvement with our local school regarding my eldest stepson??
Here's the link to my post: viewtopic.php?f=26&t=8647
They do not want us telling the children that they have rights and they certainly dont want everyone know that they could be breaking the law!! The very law that they are trying to impose on us at every opportunity!!

**Regarding the retired teachers involvement....
Just prior to Christmas we asked our Ed Off for a copy of the National Curriculum for the relevant ages of our children so that we could compare what we were teaching them. We explained to him that it was simply for guidance only and should we choose NOT to follow it then we were fully aware that we didn't need to. Now this is where our Ed Off works well with us as he suggested that he brought round a retired teacher that was willing to help home educators in their task. Immediately we smelt a rat and questioned his motives. Bearing in mind that we audio record EVERY visit, he told us that there was absolutely NO obligation to agree to it, listen to him, or in fact do anything he suggested!! So we thought we would give him the opportunity to prove his worth and agreed to the retired teacher to visit. It turned out to be a very interesting visit whereas the retired teacher seemed to mainly praise us for our intuative way of teaching our children. He in no way whatsoever told us how or what to teach them and told us that we were doing a fantastic job and shouldn't have any reason for concern, the kids were thriving and learning just fine!! He was also very interested and impressed with our reasons for withdrawing the children from school and TOTALLY AGREED with us.


I am however very interested in any further information regarding your post Hope and will keep an eye out at this end for the benefit of other readers.

:sun: :hug: :peace:

Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I may remember. Involve me and I Learn!!
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