Saturday, July 08, 2006

Kent LA

Friday's meeting with Kent LA went very well. I was meeting with the one man who deals with all 780 children known to the LA who are home educated. He doesn't like to be called an inspector - but he is the one who carries out the reviews/visits etc.

He was very well informed, very positive. He had a pack of leaflets and information he takes to visits - including the EO breakdown of the Education Act (more readable he said than the original), the details of all support groups and organisations known to him, information on work experience etc etc. Again, all very positive.

However, he was suprised that although he personally has a reasonably good name across Kent, the LA doesn't. We pointed out to him the Kent LA website - saying that parents had to "apply in writing" to HE (in his own words, that's not what the law says), their own procedures for newly deregistered children which breaks the DPA (he did not know of the letter they send to the police etc requesting information on children) and the attitude of the EWOs in Kent - some of whom are anti HE (that he admitted to having already heard).

He promised to deal with the EWOs - he is due to meet next week with them anyway. He noted that the website needs changing. He made a note to deal with the department that writes those letters.

He also invited me to help him in the drafting of new procedures for his role - something he had recently begun work on and was able to show me.

He has offered to include me in future, relevant meetings and consultations which is helpful. Giving him - for the moment - the benefit of the doubt and taking his comments at face value, it is a positive step in the right direction. At least I now feel I have someone to take complaints to. If he can at least get the website changed, and the EWOs dealt with, that will be a big step. And to get the letters changed would stop a lot of fear being generated unnecessarily to new HE families in Kent.

He said he is also prepared to look into sharing LA resources such as swimming lessons, cycling proficiency etc - but he is suitably cynical (as I am) of anything coming of it.

All in all, it was positive. I get the feeling that the other LAs I'm going to are not going to be as accomodating. Also, just because this "inspector" feels this way, that does not necessarily reflect across the whole of the LA that is involved with home educators.

Still, a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step (grief, I've been around Roarke too long!) and this is but a start.

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