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Friday, 06 December 2019 19:48

Elective Home Education & Children Missing from Education 2018-19: Kent and Medway

 The number of children leaving Kent schools for Elective Home Education (EHE) in 2018-19   continues to increase sharply year on year, now up by 70% to 1310 over the past four years. Medway has seen its first fall in numbers for five years, to 226 families opting for EHE down from 278 in the previous year.

The figure of 830 Kent ‘Children Missing from Education’ (CME), with no known destination is way down on the 2292 of two years ago,  with larger figures in some areas caused by families returning to their homeland, notably in Gravesham and Thanet, both home to large numbers of Eastern European families, and by Traveller families.

The four highest EHE schools are the same as in 2017-18, and are four out of the top six the previous year, yet no-one appears to question what is going on in these schools. They are High Weald Academy, losing 4.8% of its statutory aged population (11-16); Hartsdown Academy 4.1%, Oasis Academy Isle of Sheppey, 3.6%; and New Line Learning Academy 3.4%, all losing on average more than one child from every class last year to home education. There were no schools in Medway losing more than 2% of their statutory roll to EHE.

I am still waiting census information to see if off-rolling continues, a practice whereby schools encourage pupils to leave in the final years before GCSE and A Levels, in order to boost their examination outcomes, but there are four schools with over half of their EHEs in Years 10 and 11 that may cause concern.

Many families positively and responsibly choose to home educate and there are plenty of resources to advise them, with some local groups identified  here, happy to support those looking to Home Educate. KCC publishes a helpful webpage with guidance and local policy. However, too many others make this decision  for more negative reasons explored in some detail in my 2017 article here.  

It is perhaps surprising that of the CME children,496 vanished from primary schools, over half of the total. 88 of these were from Gravesham primary schools. I have talked to several local primary headteachers who confirm these are mainly children moving back to Eastern Europe and have also talked with headteachers with a large population of Travellers, in both cases losing children without being able to confirm their destination. However, for too many others there must still be concerns they have become victims of criminality.

Elective Home Education 
Kent and Medway 2018-19      
   EHE  EHE %
All Kent Secondary
High Weald Academy 12 4.8%
Hartsdown Academy 26 4.1%
Oasis Academy
Isle of Sheppey
47 3.6%
New Line Learning Academy 19 3.4%
Thamesview School 23 2.8%
Orchards Academy 14 2.7%
Sandwich Technology  28 2.3%
Hugh Christie School 16 2.1%
Note: No Medway school reaches this threshold. For a possible reason, see below.
Kent Secondary Schools
All four highest EHE schools have numerous common factors amongst them that: there is no other obvious local school for dissatisfied families to transfer to for any of them,  so EHE may be seen as the only possibility; three are in the top eight for fixed term exclusions in 2018-19, all four featuring for years previously; all their 2019 GCSE Progress 8 performances are classified as ‘Well Below Average’; they are all in the six Kent schools with lowest percentage of Year Seven places offered last March; in the top nine schools by Local Authority Allocations. The first three were explored in more detail last year, here
The Four Highest Elective Home Education Schools
Hartsdown High Weald Oasis IOS New Line Learning
% EHE 4.1% 4.8% 3.6% 3.4%
% Fixed Term
73% 32% 78% 23% 
% Places Filled
Before LAA**
59%  61%  43% 44%
Local Authority
101  42 79 79

 * See updated article here. 

** March 2019 Secondary Allocations data

Some years ago when I looked at schools with data such as this, it was relatively easy to forecast their demise and five have since closed. With academisation such a decision is far more difficult, but most recently both Pent Valley School and Oasis Hextable Academy closed in the last four years, poor leadership playing a major part in their failures.

No Kent secondary school has a high proportion of Children Missing from Education (CME) - children disappearing without trace for the Local Authority to follow up. The three Dover non-selective schools are all amongst the highest proportions, suggesting there may be a common factor there: St Edmund’s Catholic (2.6% of statutory population); Astor College (1.8%); Dover Christ Church Academy (1.5%). Others are Ebbsfleet Academy (2.3%), although well down on its previous highs for EHE, topping the table two years ago; Northfleet Technology College and Thamesview (both 1.5%, and both Gravesham; see the Primary School entry below)

Kent Primary Schools
There is no consistent pattern year on year for the five primary schools with the highest proportion of EHE, although two of those at the top of the list had a difficult year in 2018-19 which may have had an effect on parental decisions. The schools are: Parkside, Canterbury, with 5.5% of their 91 children leaving for EHE; Cranbrook (3.5%); Seal, Sevenoaks (3.4%); Hadlow, Tonbridge (3.2%); Eastchurch, Sheppey (3.1%).

There are a number of primary schools which, through no fault of their own, have seen a high proportion of children classified as Missing from Education. Many have returned to Eastern Europe; up to 7.7% of the statutory school roll in one case. Six Gravesham primaries are amongst the top 20 schools on the list. Traveller families also often move on without notice, one small school losing 23.3% of its school roll in this way.

Medway Schools
No Medway school reaches my Kent cut off levels, highest secondary numbers being Robert Napier and Rainham School for Girls each seeing 1.3% of their pupils depart for EHE. With all secondary schools having a Good Ofsted and spaces free in six non-selective schools, those unhappy with their school are likely to be able to find an alternative. No primary school has lost five or more pupils to EHE. No Medway school has five or more children classified as CME, with a total of 18 children, 11 from secondary schools gone missing.



Last modified on Monday, 29 June 2020 20:13

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