The status of the new home education policy in Kent is uncertain.
Roger Gough, Cabinet Member for Education and Health Reform, told a parent in April 2015 that “the revised EHE policy has not yet been adopted or implemented; as per the Cabinet discussion and decision on 28 January, it will not be until engagement over this proposed policy is complete”.
However, in March 2015 a home educating parent in Kent received a message insisting on a meeting which said “attached is a copy of our draft Elective Home Education Policy which has been endorsed by Kent Cabinet Committee … we will register x as a Child Missing Education until such time as a visit with x has taken place”
In response to an enquiry, Roger Gough has said he expects contact to be made with the wider EHE community very soon “as part of the wider consultation on the policy” adding that the timing of this wider consultation is dependent on completing planned improvements to the elective home education web page on the Kent County Council website.
2014 Kent Draft Home Education Policy
In July 2014 Kent Council was on the point of finalising a new elective home education policy. Following complaints from home educators and a letter from Graham Stuart MP, the council decided to delay consideration of any new policy until there had been consultation with local home educators.
The key people behind this policy are Patrick Leeson, Corporate Director, Education and Young People’s Services, and Roger Gough, Cabinet Member for Education and Health Reform.
September 2014 Meeting
The council held one meeting on September 2nd 2014 with a small group of Kent home educators. The sole criterion for attendance seems to be whether the home educator had written to the council leader Paul Carter. Home educators who had written to other people at the council were not included.
At the meeting in September 2014 the council promised to consult more widely with the home education community and also said it would keep home educators informed. There was a council note-taker at the meeting but the minutes were not provided to parents until 6 weeks later.
Waiting 6 weeks for the council to send out minutes of the meeting to participants contributed to the delay in home educators providing feedback about the meeting to the local home education community. Another aspect to the delay could have been the expectation from participants that the council was about to initiate the promised consultation with the wider community.
January 2015 Policy Agreed
On January 28th 2015 Kent County Council Cabinet approved a new elective home education policy which had not been discussed with home educators. The policy can be found here [extract from the Agenda and Reports Pack for the Cabinet meeting on January 28th] Minutes
Home educators in Kent were not aware that the policy had been approved and have not been asked for their views.
Extracts from Kent County Council’s Elective Home Education Policy“Where one or more of the conditions set out below are met, KCC will expect every child whose parent(s) elect to home educate to participate in a meeting with an EHE Officer and the child at a mutually convenient time and place in order to satisfy KCC of the suitability of the education provision proposed.To ensure that the critical voice of the child is heard and to establish education suitability, KCC will request that both the child and evidence of learning are seen.Where one or more of the conditions set out below are met, education will not be recorded as suitable if this meeting is not facilitated.The conditions where this meeting would be required are:
- (a) The child has a history of persistent unauthorised absence from school (by persistent absence, KCC mean absence of 15% or higher);
- (b) The child has a record of poor attainment at school as measured by progression in performance using prior attainment and National Curriculum test results as the basis for assessment;
- (c) The child has previously been permanently excluded from school(s) or has been subject to more than one fixed term exclusion whilst at school;
- (d) The child has been referred to early help and/or to children’s social care.From past experience the presence of one or more of these factors is a strong indication that the child in question may well not be receiving a suitable education and may be seriously under-achieving.Evidence at this meeting could include a report about the education provided, an assessment by a qualified third party or by showing samples of their child’s learning supported with input from the child.Should the offer of a meeting be declined where one of the above four conditions are present, the LA will not be able to state that a suitable education is being offered.The LA will also record that there has been no opportunity to speak to the child regarding their education.In this case the child’s name will be added to the Children Missing Education register until such time as it becomes possible to ascertain that they are receiving suitable education.This information will also be made available for the KCC Children’s Social Services Teams.”
Making a Formal Complaint
KentCounty Council’s complaints policy says “contact the corporate director of the service you have been dealing with” via the online form, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by writing a letter to the corporate director.
For home education, this would be Patrick Leeson, Corporate Director, Education and Young People’s Services, Sessions House, County Hall, Maidstone, Kent, ME14 1XQ.
TheGOV.UK website says if you feel that a council service hasn’t been properly delivered, you can make an official complaint and if this doesn’t resolve the issue, you may be able to get the Local Government Ombudsman to look into it.
The Ombudsman usually only considers a complaint once it has been through the local council’s complaints procedure, which is why it would be necessary to write to Patrick Leeson in the first instance.
Tips from the Ombudsman about making complaints.
- Don’t delay
- When you have decided to complain, make sure you are complaining to the right organisation and the right department within that organisation.
- Ask for a copy of the council’s complaints procedure and find out who will be handling your complaint.
- Tell the council straight away that this is a complaint, and that you want it put through the complaints procedure.
- Cover all the relevant points, but be as brief as you can.
- Make it easy to read by using numbered lists and headings to highlight the important issues.
- Give your contact telephone and email details, as well as your address. Then, if the person dealing with the complaint needs more information, he or she can contact you and ask.
- Keep notes of any telephone calls about the complaint, including the name of the person you spoke to. This may be important later.
- Explain clearly what you hope to achieve by complaining.
- It may take some time for your complaint to be considered. Don’t be afraid to chase politely if nothing seems to be happening to progress matters.
- If you are unhappy with the reply, you may have the opportunity to take your complaint to a second stage; again, do so as soon as possible and explain why you are not satisfied with the first reply.
Status of Elective Home Education Guidelines
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Kent Council new home education policy