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Agenda item

Public Questions and Petitions

To receive any questions or petitions from members of the public



Jane Peters asked the following question:-



I am writing to alert you to a gross injustice regarding your constituents and future voters.


Much has been made over many years of what a "problem" home education is, often tenuously associating it with lack of socialisation and poor outcomes, not to mention child abuse. There have been many hours of parliamentary, committee, and council time devoted to commissioning reports and campaigns around compulsory registration.

In addition to this, there are further costs associated with officers checking on the appropriateness of provision and progress of "known" home educators.


Here is how you can quickly and easily improve the situation in Sheffield.


For more than four years I have been requesting that Sheffield provides these students with access to examinations (functional skills, GCSEs, IGCSEs, A levels etc). This will provide the LEA with measurable results, aid future planning, improve college entries and career progression for these students and therefore also have a positive impact on benefits claims in the long term. It will also provide clarity for both families and EHE officers as to possible outcomes and encourage engagement.


From this summer there will be no exam centres/schools within a 40 mile radius (offering a good range of subjects) who are willing to accept private candidates (eg Home Educated Students).

This makes successful outcomes almost impossible. What is the point of checks, registration etc if students cannot access qualifications as proof of the standards they have reached?


Due to the lack of a local centre, costs are now spiralling - addition of travel costs, parking, accommodation etc. See the links below for some examples of exam fees from the nearest centres. Costs escalate further if you have SEN's and require access arrangements (eg extra time, room, scribe, computer use, reader etc) therefore one GCSE can cost £500-£1000. (This does not include tuition, books, resources etc)



Often, home educated students stagger exam entries, usually from Yr9 onwards, to manage costs but these prices are too high for many families and are not representative of the actual examination cost (usually around £50).


The cancelling of this summer's exams has meant the majority of home educating students will have had their entries through centres withdrawn, their education and progress will be halted and monies lost. This is despite initial government assurances to the contrary.


For November and next summer, it is likely that centres will have more entries than they can cope with. This may again, leave many students unable to take exams they have prepared for and unable to move on to college, university or work.


In Sheffield, you are responsible for an LEA with one of the highest rates of home education per head of population. It is likely there are enough home educated students to fill a large primary/small secondary school.


Where is the money going that would have been allocated for each of these students?


Is it really beyond the ability of the local authority to put in place a few rooms, desks, invigilators, a couple of times a year and provide the basic administration required for examinations or alternatively pay one or more schools/education providers to supply these services?


Again, where is the money going that would normally be allocated for the education of these students?


You are letting these students down, you are limiting their future choices. You are penalizing families who have provided their children with high quality education in line with the laws of this country. For many, home education is a positive and successful experience, but currently, within Sheffield, students are being actively prevented from completing their studies. Is this morally acceptable?

Are you allowing your focus on this subject to be drawn by salacious newspaper gossip? Or are you able to look at the facts and work towards a more positive model for home education?


May I ask you to seriously consider the consequences of the current, and on-going difficulties, ask questions and raise these issues with your colleagues, work with a sense of urgency towards a successful result - a place to take examinations in Sheffield for those not in school (this is an even larger group of students but includes home educators).


I look forward to your response and am happy to try to answer any further queries.





Councillor Abtisam Mohamed (Cabinet Member for Education and Skills) stated that she would provide a detailed, written response to Ms Peters.