education cutbacks attacked by Burnham councillor
Burnham-On-Sea parent and town councillor has this week accused
Somerset County Council of a "dereliction of duty of care
to children" following cost-cutting changes to its home education
Groves, right, says the "irresponsible and ill-considered"
policy changes have potentially major implications for children.
changes will see parents who educate their children at home no
longer having frequent periodic visits from County Council education
spokesman for Somerset County Council explained the changes: "As
of September, due to the significant financial challenges facing
the council, we changed our support on Elected Home Education
(EHE) and all parents were sent a letter. This explained that
we would only be meeting our statutory requirements and no longer
conduct general visits."
statutory requirements are a duty to safeguard and promote the
welfare of all children including children who are home
educated; and ensuring parents are providing suitable education
for their child of statutory school age and considering the use
of School Attendance Orders to ensure they do."
the County Council will only contact families if we are advised
that the EHE is not happening or is unsuitable. We would stress
that if a parent exercises their right to EHE then they are solely
responsible for that education."
cutbacks have concerned several parents in the Burnham area, including
Cllr Helen Groves, who told Burnham-On-Sea.com: "I have been
contacted by several parents of home-educated children in the
Burnham-On-Sea area over the course of the last month in regards
to their concerns about the policy changes of Somerset County
"Whilst the overwhelming majority of parents who choose to
home educate are acting in the very best interests of their children,
it is an area in which there has never been very much monitoring
parents make this difficult decision in response to issues of
bullying within school environments where there is no reasonable
alternative possible. Whilst supporting the rights of parents
to make the decisions they feel are necessary for the wellbeing
of their children, I am horrified that what little system of checks
and supported was provided."
initial visit and a quarterly visit thereafter to offer support/guidance
and to ensure the statutory requirement that the home educated
child is receiving at least the minimum of 12 hours of education
of some form per week has been withdrawn."
"In my view, this is a dereliction of a duty of care towards
these children. Not only may this leave parents and children within
this situation struggling, but it creates situation of unacceptable
County Council Statement that it 'will only contact families if
we are advised that the EHE is not happening or is unsuitable'
fails to recognise that the previous system may well be the only
outside contact for a child at risk and without that contact there
are inadequate safeguards for these children."
"Whilst the overwhelming majority of parents who home educate
are loving parents motivated only by a desire to help their children
and their right to do so should be protected, it is unacceptable
to ignore the risks of serious harm occurring in rare instances,
as in the case of Khyra Ishaq."
"I sincerely hope that Somerset County council will recognise
this is an ill considered policy and will address it quickly because
no child should have to pay for the error, be that through their
basic right to education not being met or worse."