Memorandum submitted by Tania Berlow



This memorandum considers some of the statistical evidence from the Review into Elective Home Education (hereafter the Review) and compares it to evidence collated by myself in a spreadsheet link which contains data obtained through Freedom of Information requests to all English Local Authorities . In order to fully appreciate the statistics it is essential that the link to the spreadsheet is used in conjunction with this submission.
Here is the link-

・     An  introduction  and personal experiences gathering statistics through Freedom of Information requests

・    Factual information summary of the breakdown of the statistics in the spreadsheet link
・    Some examples of educational concerns from the Local Authorities
・    Analysis of educational concerns within the Home Education Community
・    Comments about the use of the questionnaires  given to Local Authorities in the Review and concerns regarding statistics
・    Important questions not addressed in the Review
・    Conclusions


1.1      I have been working on gathering statistics via Freedom of Information requests (FOI's) about the number of educational concerns there are for Electively Home Educated children from all 152 Local Authorities (LA's). Many of the Local Authorities were on annual leave over the summer break and did not reply until after the time limit for a response had passed. Some of these Local Authorities needed further questions asked in order to clarify their data. To my dismay,many interpreted this as a reason to wait another 20 working days. Some of the difficulties were overcome by raising to ' internal review' after the first 20 day time limit but still there were LA's who refused to elaborate or simply did not respond in time for this submission. The overall effect of the stalling from the LA's meant that until this week, I have not felt there was a reliable enough picture with a robust enough sample size. I cut short my holiday in the summer to work on these statistics and have most of it committed to memeory and a much clearer picture of what the situation is from both sides of this wall that is betwen many home educators and the LA's . One of the main problems has been  the limited amount of time to gather all the information needed to make a submission to the Select Dommittee. The DCSF has released information piecemeal and with each new FOI response comes another set of questions and concerns regarding this Review.
1.2      A further compounding difficulty is that  being Jewish,  I belong to a minority group which happens to have its major High Holy Days around the date of this submission.
 1.3     I contend that the spreadsheet statistics and comments  make a compelling case for questioning the disproportionate recommendations of the Review and also provide a case for wondering why so many questions were left untouched in the Review.  I read that the author of the Review is now asking Local Authorities for further data and has been given an extension  by the Star Committee.  I am personally mentioned as ' disputing the evidence base that shows that a small but significant
proportion of home educated children are receiving no, or an inadequate,

1.4 There is no 'evidence base' for the above assertion. I have seen all the evidence and workings that the DCSF has released and the questions about education were asked of 25 Local Authorities. Some local Authorities in the Review did have high figures. I can explain the majority of these particular LA's figures if I could finally get responses to the in depth follow on questionnaire used in the review and sent to 25 LA's . I can also give you a national average amongst 85% of LA's. There is no way the author of the Review could collate all this again with his time frame. It is over 500 work hours. I welcome my statistics to be used by the author for they are complete and actual data not 'estimates' . I would like the author to be asked by this Committee to produce this evidence base so it can be compared to the spreadsheet findings  and also the abuse and neglect spreadsheet submitted by others and compiled by Ahed (Action for Home Education).

1.5      I have requested to be heard for oral evidence as my findings are difficult to summarise without being asked direct questions regarding them. I have spoken to upwards of 30 LA's and can see a pattern which is not possible to explain in a 3000 word submission.

                  2   Factual information on the breakdown of the statistics in the spreadsheet

2.1      Any new FOI responses after the date of this submission will still be added to the spreadsheet. For the most concise and up to date figures please look at the spreadsheet link. There may be a different number of LA responses and a different overall concern rate percentage to what is quoted in this submission today.
2.2      I can however summarise my findings  below:

129 LA's out of 151 have responded so far (85%).
32% of LA's have no educational concerns for any of their registered EHE population.
56% of LA's have less than 5%.
71.5% of LA's have less than 10%.
16.3% of LA's have  10-15%.
12.2% of LA's have  a higher than 15% concern rate.
There is a total of 14,500  registered children accounted for.
There are 800  noted concerns about the education of these 14,500  children.
 Overall if you average the concerns amongst the 129 LA's there is a 5.7% educational  concern rate.  

2.3    There were 33 reports of 'ultra-vires' actions either by the LA itself (contained in the FOI  response ) or by the EHE community who were given the option of commenting on their own LA. This is 25% of all responding LA's and is likely to be under-estimated. Ultra-vires is defined as acting outside of current law and 2007 EHE guidelines.

2.4       Those LA's with a higher than average percent of educational concerns accounted for almost double the amount of ultra-vires actions than did the LA's with a lower than average concern rate. The 4 LA's with the highest concern rates  were all shown to be ultra-vires.

2.5      There are a total of 14500 children and 800 educational concerns. Of these 800 concerns only 47 School Attendance Orders (SAO) have been issued or are in the process of being issued. The SAO rate is only  5.5% of all 800 concerns but only 0.3% of the total registered EHE community as a whole.
2.6      There are  22 LA's who said they could not answer the question due to the amount of time it would take ,or did not respond even to internal review in time for this submission. There are a further 12 LA's where clarification has been sought for the category of concerns who also have not managed to respond in time.
2.7     I compared the spreadsheet with the Review which contacted 90 LA's asking for their opinions and a few estimations of their numbers of educational concerns .The Review mainly used a mere 25 LA's for more in depth statistics (which remain indecipherable). A  few LA's met in person with the author of the Review as did some home educator groups.  Having made 167 Freedom of Information requests and spoken to 30 LA's ,  My conclusion about the Local Authorities is similar to the author's conclusion about home educators. I 'believe' they are a disparate lot when it comes to their procedures and policies regarding  EHE and how they categorise any type of concern, be it educational or safeguarding (or whether they conflate the two).Therefore I conclude that the  Review does not separate educational concerns from abuse and neglect concerns as there is no data in the Review which breaks it down separately. In addition I contend that many of the responses from the Local Authorities are estimates whereas the spreadsheet is hard data obtained through Freedom of Information requests. Of greater worry is that the 25 Local Authorities who answered more in depth to actual numbers , seem to have listed children more than once so for example if 'Jonny' had previously been de-registered because of truancy issues and happened have an alcoholic father with some domestic violence issues previously raised (in the past 5 years) and as a result his mother was noted to have depression, then 'Jonny' would appear four time in the columns. If you answer that Jonny does not receive full time education  as defined in the Initial questionnaire for the Review as 20 hours a week, then he would appear five times.  No where in any EHE guidance does 20 hours appear as a bench mark -indeed the EHE 2007 guidelines specifically say this is not to be used for EHE. I would details the exact paragraph where the Guidelines detail this but the DCSF have taken the 2007 guidelines down from their website so now no-one has access except those who stored them in PDF.

Examples of  types of Local Authorities concerns

    3.1   The 'educational concern' rate for 129 out of 152 Local Authorities (85%of all English LA's)) stands at an average of 5.7% This figure includes children where the LA  has responded that they have concerns even when this particular LA  indicates these concerns to be ultra-vires. Below are some of the examples of what constitutes ultra-vires activity and some of the other reasons given for concern.

    3.2   Listing children under the 'concern' category when parents decline a visit if the parents have previously submitted a report and plan over which there are no concerns. This means that a family with no previous indication of any concerns will be treated as though they must have a visit or risk the wrath of the LA. Guidance and legislation do not give LA's the duty to visit where there are no concerns and parents have every right to refuse a visit. This also can include families for whom there were no previous concerns but have merely moved house and not notified the LA, as they have no duty to inform them. Trafford reported that any family, no matter if there have been no previous concerns and no matter if they have sent in an educational plan as per 2007 guidelines, will be treated as suspect and a safeguarding procedure will be implemented whereupon the police will be called out to visit them and a case conference will be discussed with Social Services. Trafford indicated that this was the case for all of Greater Manchester and seemed to think that the Review had given them the go ahead to do this. They did not seem to care much for the 2007 guidelines when I mentioned them nor parental rights regarding visits and the option to send in a written plan. A handful  of LA's mentioned that they do not visit as a matter of course and indicated they understood guidelines and law. However many LA's expect to visit and are suspicious if a family declines. Some even have written their own policies in contradiction to guidelines.

    3.3   Using 20 hours or 23 hours as a guide for the definition of 'full time'-even although this is not in guidance and specifically mentions in CME material that children who receive education otherwise than at school for varying reasons - a service which the local authority provides, should not be considered the same as EHE children when it comes to the definition of full time. The Ivatts report on EHE in the Gypsy/Roma and Traveller community in 2006 also mentions 20 hours with no indication of where this figure comes from.( However some LA's consider it adequate to provide 5 hours a week tuition for children unable to attend school who are not EHE (for example ill children, excluded pupils and truants). AS previously mentioned, the Review itself asks in one of its questions in the first questionnaire to 'estimate the proportion of children not receiving a suitable full time (20hrs) education'  making it appear that this is in fact current guidelines. If one compares the FOI responses of LA's to this initial questionnaire you get answers that look very different. If a local authority answered for example that they has a 3% concern rate to my FOI request, they may have answered in the review that only 80% were receiving a 'full time' suitable education. Several LA's have indicated they are already changing their procedures and policies following this Review and  before this Review even reaches consultation stage.

    3.4  Requiring written work or evidence of a particular 'school-like' structure. Assessments based on school attainment (Key Stages) or using Educational psychology assessment tools. One LA released it's responses to the in depth questionnaire and attached the actual case review notes for two families. They used these case studies as  examples where there 'could be' safeguarding concerns as the family happened to spend half the year overseas. Despite the fact that the report was glowing in educational terms and the fact that the family concerned had no idea that there may have been safeguarding 'issues' about them. This same case study indicated that the visitor assessed the child according to the peer group at school and also used an educational psychology assessment tool .Both these measures are not current protocol for the EHE population. This LA had to take down the public response as several people complained. The family was readily identifiable and by the end of the day the family were informed by myself of the day's events regarding their child (whose actual name was redacted).The second family in these case notes were a religious family and the father refused visits  'vociferously' . The concern of the LA was that he was more concerned about 'his rights' ( as opposed to his childrens or the LA's?) .Current guidelines are clear that there is not a duty on parents to accept visits nor on LA's to conduct them and that written evidence is enough. This family had sent written evidence and a plan and there were no safeguarding issues nor educational concerns but were used as an example -in the absence of any real cases of concern? Currently there is no onus on families to produce their children's written work for the LA's to assess. My own daughter has always happily shown her work but not all children want to  . I had visits because I trusted my Local Authority and the person visiting but mainly because my daughters father was taking me to court as he wanted her to go to school and the LA were able to show she was happy and progressing and they had no concerns. In this regard I needed the LA , however, had her father not been of the type to make issues where none exist, I can think of no reason why I might want any LA involvement and my particular LA is respectful of this parental choice and recognise what the law firmly states and how guidelines interpret this law.
    3.5  Some local authorities have included in their figures children who have just de-registered and conclude that because they have not yet been processed them they will be counted as 'concerns' until parents proven 'innocent'  by whichever policy and procedure the LA follows. Again it was not possible in all cases to decipher how many of each particular LA's concerns were due to this but they are included in the 5.7% overall rate of concern. Also included are children who have simply moved house. There is no onus to inform an LA of a house move not in the general population nor the EHE population.
    3.6  Although not ultra vires, the 5.7% concern rate includes the children for whom there are concerns about parental literacy (particularly in the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities  who would invariably be known to the LA through Traveller Liaisons). Some LA's have high rates of concern and high rates of G/R/T community. Some LA's did not comment on the percentage of GRT but those whose responses we have to the initial questionnaires have answered this question and it is included in the comments section. These concerns are well known and the Ivatts report has commented extensively on the G/R/T EHE community.

    3.7 Also included are previously excluded or truanting children. These are children who would be  already known to the LA  through CME . Interesting is the  increasing numbers in this category compared with previous investigations 5 years ago done by Mike Fortune Wood who runs HE-UK. This may be explained by the new CME legislation with statutory guidelines -failure of parents to ensure attendance results in fines and jail and also costs each LA a significant sum of money. It is unclear whether parents are catching onto the 'de-registration to avoid prosecution' motif or if LA's themselves are encouraging it as then they have less outlay both in terms of finances and input for what are often children who would be troublesome cases whether in school, in LA tuition programs or at home. What is evident is that not all 'deregistered' due to truancy or exclusion are necessarily educational concerns for once the EHE department takes over some of these children improve their attitude , some find EHE is a better option for them. Children who develop school phobia (refusal) also frequently come under CME as truants. Once parents realise they can home educate the situation improves all round, however many LA's consider school refusal to be the childs problem and try and force the family to support efforts to return the child to a school. Those families that decide they know best and finally deregister for their child are often noted as 'concerns'. It is interesting to note that if asked in more detail it seems that although , for example, ten children appear in this category, some LA's have not got educational concerns for all ten
    3.8   The concern rate includes numbers where it was not possible to ascertain the reasons for these concerns and also clear reasons such as no educational provision, inadequate provision not meeting age ,aptitude or ability. These clarifications are marked as such on the spreadsheet. It was not possible to collate the interesting conversations I had with various LA's but I have many examples if asked to give verbal evidence.

         4  Analysis
・       4.1 The spreadsheet may hold the key to why so many EHE families do not wish any involvement with their Local Authority. Whilst not wishing to include all LA's in this category , there was no general picture given by the LA's  of equity for an educational choice which is equally as valid in law as school attendance. There was a top down approach with LA's considering themselves to be 'in charge' rather than 'in partnership'. The  zero educational concern rate for one third of all responding local authorities does not necessarily mean that their literature and practices are in line with current law and guidelines and therefore even a zero educational concern rate does not indicate that a particular Local Authority has good relations with its EHE community. 15% of  the 41 'zero concern'  LA's indicated ultra-vires activity. That means that although they indicated no concerns currently, they do have policies which do not indicate an understanding of law and guidelines.
・    4.2  There is also a concern amongst home educators about  the employment of ex-school teachers without further training in differing educational approaches, whose EHE department  may or may not like or follow current guidelines and law. Until these issues are addressed it seems unlikely that relationships will improve. The Review has done much damage to the prospect of improving relationships in the near future. Of great alarm is the statistics used in the Review which are refuted by the larger sample size from the statistics gathered by home educators . In order to get some of the detail which seems to be lacking in the Review questionnaire answers  , I had to be like a 'dog with a bone' to pick apart many of the LA responses to the Freedom of Information requests. However, the data from all the FOI's regarding abuse (Ahed statistics) and this 'Suitable Education ' spreadsheet, add weight to the argument that  the review has taken  a sledgehammer to crack a nut with out properly discerning exactly what sort of nut this is. The feeling is that this lack of discernment was entirely intentional - what was not discussed in the Review is much more revealing that what was discussed.
・    4.3  The comments on the spreadsheets  regarding Home Educating families experiences of Local Authorities replicate the findings of the Scottish Consumer Council's report which , unlike the recent Review, did listen to home educators views and did make clear to Local Authorities why the Scottish guidelines were introduced in 2007 without a need for changing laws.
・    4.4  The English guidelines in 2007 were lifted straight from the Scottish Parliament's findings except that the English LA's were not provided an explanation of the findings of the Scottish Consumer Council which made clear the extent of the harassment and bullying of home educators amongst Local Authorities. Instead our English Local authorities were handed guidelines with out any background information and were the told in CME legislation in early 2009 that they had a duty to identify (so far as is possible) EHE children missing education . According to the opinions of many Local Authorities , this CME legislation weakened the case for following the 2007 EHE guidelines and they are now choosing to interpret the CME legislation without due heed to the wording  ' so far as is possible' - i.e. they must act within current EHE guidelines and law .The situation regarding individual hostile practices of Local Authorities in Scotland was greatly reduced because the Scottish Consumer Council Report made public the behind closed doors attitudes and actions of Local Authorities towards the EHE community so that the Local Authorities could no longer get away with such practices.

・    4.5 Many Local Authorities seem unaware of the amount of ill feeling amongst home educators to their ultra-vires activities. Those LA's with good practice seem unaware of the extent of this problem amongst some LA's. Couple that with no substantial form of incentive for families to have any contact with a Local Authority and it is obvious why the majority of home educating parents prefer to remain anonymous to their Local Authorities. If under no onus in law to do so, the majority of families  (possibly up to 75%)  simply cannot find any reasons why they would want  a stranger in their homes, who may or may not have an understanding of the varied approaches to education that is found in our community and who may or may not come from a Local Authority known to be hostile to Elective Home Education.  Before this review was published in June 2009, it was common knowledge amongst home educators that some areas were dreadful to try an educate at home in, due to the attitudes of the LA.
・    4.5   I happen to live in South Somerset, an area where the Local Authority is considered to be respectful and understanding of its EHE community .This Local Authority  have even helped fund thrice weekly meetings for EHE families. The EHE visitors from the Local Authority are made welcome to visit these meetings . However even in good practice areas ,the risk that personnel change could happen at any moment and someone who has different ideas about what is suitable education and their own views on EHE could instantly be in charge of policy  is enough to stop home educators from wanting to register. Compulsory registration and many of the Review recommendation will increase the powers of the hostile LA's and make the job of the good practice LA's intolerable and already built upon relationships unsustainable. At this point in time the majority of the attendees at my local meetings are unregistered and the LA is respectful of this choice. These LA's are far and few between. It will no doubt have been mentioned in many Select Committee submissions the issues that home educators have with their local authorities if they choose to educate in a way that does not resemble school. For educational philosophies such as autonomous education there is real anxiety that the Review will come into being and their way of life will be made 'illegal'. On the back of this review, many families are already hoping to move into a postcode where the LA is respectful and understands autonomous education-whether the Review becomes legislation or not , some Local Authorities have better relationships with the EHE community than others and the increase 'traffic' on the EHE lists has resulted in a much more connected and aware EHE community. This is one positive outcome of the review .
・    5  Concerns Regarding the Gathering of the Review Statistics
・    5.1  It cannot have escaped the Select Committee that the complaints about this recent Badman Review are based on the 'belief' that not only were the outcomes of the review predetermined (that is, some Local Authorities were intent on making sure the law and guidelines were changed to increase their powers due to a small amount of serious concerns) but that the statistics gathered to substantiate these opinions are not robust nor transparent in the Review.
5.2      In the process of gathering the statistics for the spreadsheet it has become clear that the figures given through Freedom of Information requests and those used in the Review , do not match up.  An explanation came from one LA when I directly asked them why this was? Apparently the Review asked only for 'estimates' whilst the FOI's requested hard data and reasons.  Also in some LA's  the Principle Education Welfare Officer answered the 'estimated' questions and they in turn asked each of their visiting officers for their individual case load estimates rather than look in actual files or hold meetings with all concerned present.

5.3  If the home education community's own work in finding out the hard data is to be believed then there is a small amount of substantiated abuse/neglect cases nationwide and  a small amount of educational concerns. Certainly smaller than the general population. If schools were reporting that only 5.7 % of their pupils were failing, truanting or being excluded the government would announce its Educational Policy a resounding success. The fact is that there are concerns and it is true that in some local Authorities, as the Review author points out, these concerns are higher than the average. What has not been made clear is that 'concern's regarding abuse or neglect are not the same as actual substantiated cases of abuse or neglect. Social Services if called in, have a threshold and any on-going cases would meet that threshold. These substantiated cases  do not exist in the number claimed by the Review. If there are concerns regarding abuse or neglect  , the Review seems to imply that only  a teacher or a LA official could possibly spot this-as though home educated children are hidden away from the rest of the world. The educational concerns vary from LA to LA depending on how much they stick to current guidelines and depending on the training in alternative methods of education that the visitors have . If the fact remains that there exist legitimate concerns , even if there were only 10 in the entire nation, is legislating for an entire community the correct way to go about solving the issues when those doing the monitoring may or may not be in a Local Authority with a draconian attitude? Giving all LA's more statutory powers when already they are abusing the power they have is a recipe for a disastrous confrontation. A high percentage (73%) of  354 home educating families in an informal survey indicated that should this Review make legislative changes to the current status quo they would be prepared to make a stand , risk fines and imprisonment. 81% of these 354  indicated they did not feel their views were taken into account at all, 76% thought the Review was not impartial, 77% said they felt that their LA offered no support at all.

                   6    Important questions not addressed  in the Review.

6.1     A significant proportion of the 800 educational concerns in the spreadsheet I present, are due to previous exclusion and truancy i.e. an already known registered population . Some clearer hard data on the actual proportion was not something that could be achieved given the time limit with the spreadsheet. However seeing this is also mentioned as an area of concern in the Review, it is strange that there is not more detail given in the review as to actual numbers of deregistration due to avoidance of penalties and jail and the actual level of concern about the G/R/T community .Nor the reasons why a particular LA may have a 30% educational concern rate and others, no concerns at all. The review does not address these issues nor suggest differing ways to deal with particular problem areas, other than to  recommend changes to  legislation for the significant majority where there are no concerns at all. Are Local Authorities really succeeding with the excluded and truanting children it has on its CME register? Are these children being turned into model citizens with 5 GCSE's by the age of 16? Is it possible that some of these children actually do better once removed from the environment that is clearly not working for them? The NEET statistics were hardly filled in by any of the LA's regarding the EHE population but what is happening in the CME population where the children are still under the LA's  educational auspices? Is it not possible that a child with no academic inclination who hates being in school may be better off sitting at home and literally doing nothing that resembles a piece of academic work until they work out what it is they want to do? I am not advocating that this is a great scenario, simply that there is the possibility that nothing the government tries to do that will work for some children and the disaffection associated with these children  may not go away until and unless they are left alone to work it out for themselves -or not. Does intervention work or is the opportunity to return to college at any age the most important factor in helping young adults change their own situation?
6.2     The 7 Local Authorities with very high educational concern rates warrant further investigation. It is apparent that many of them are acting ultra-vires but  what is not clear is whether the breakdown of the socio-economic or cultural factors amongst families registered is significantly different from other Local Authorities. Are there some areas and cities  in England where there are more families who are failing in their duty to ensure adequate educational provision for their children? Or are there are areas in England where the Local Authorities have different opinions about their duty in law and guidance?

6.3     The review concluded that because some LA's had high rates of concern that there is a problem within the EHE community .However, Review responses do not  differentiate if they mean estimated safeguarding or educational concerns. It also appears that many of the LA's reported unsubstantiated 'concern' which may have been no more than a referral  because the child was 'not at school' and a member of the public or another profession was ignorant of EHE 's standing in law. There also are LA's who immediately involve Social Services over educational concerns and those who will call  the police if a family refuses a visit and couch this under 'safeguarding' when in guidance and law the LA has no right nor duty to compel a visit. Picking apart all these statistics did not happen in the review. How is it that  in 12 weeks home educators have come together and done this job and produced reliable statistics?
6.4     Is there confusion amongst LA's over what constitutes a suitable education for some parts of our society? If the education of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children (G/R/T) prepares them for the community in which they are part of but there are concerns that this education may not prepare them for the wider community which they may or may not become part of in adult life, then surely the ruling by Justice Woolf regarding the Orthodox Jewish Community should be considered? (R v Secretary of State for Education, ex parte Talmud Torah Mizrachi Hadassa School Trust. Judicial review 1985)  How many Orthodox Jewish children leave their community as adults and how many G/R/T children choose to do the same? In the case of the G/R/T community should it not be considered that it is a failing of the wider community to accept certain cultures and that this community have a higher truancy and exclusion rate because of the prejudices and hostility found towards them in mainstream educational setting which in many cases can itself be accused of failing to provide a suitable education? What about the  parents that several LA's have concerns about their 'ability to educate their children' due to low levels of literacy? Are these parents not for the most part graduates of  the school system? Is this really something which can be addressed through further monitoring and regulation of EHE?
6.5     Is there really an issue of epic proportion where families uproot and move home in order to avoid the Local Authority when there are real safeguarding issues or educational concerns?  If 'issues' are found in a child who attends school , simply being known cannot stop a family from moving areas and nothing compels them to check in with Social Services in the new area. Is this not an issue that ought to be addressed for all families in England by Social Services and not just by targeting home educators through the EHE departments where the visitors have no safeguarding qualifications and many are not even currently CRB checked?  Will the children's database solve these 'mobility' issues . The spreadsheet indicates that most of the 'missing' children were of no concern prior to them moving away from the area and seeing as families do not have to inform LA's of there whereabouts it is of great concern that these children are called 'missing' by some LA's.

6.6     It is  known that 2/3rds of adults who confide that they were neglected or abused at home did not reveal this at school and the school did not suspect anything was amiss nor have any concerns. Surely the only way to 'ensure' that children are safe and well is to interview each and every child in the land on a frequent routine basis. Would the state therefore become de facto parents? This monitoring would have to include the children of the rich and famous , the titled and the royal. Those at boarding school and those not enrolled in school . Will the proposed Children's Database solve many of the presumed issues regarding EHE?

   7   Conclusion
・    7.1   It must be asked what would Local Authorities do with more powers? To return to the question of 'suitable ' education, it seems that even although the recommendations ask for a change in law and guidelines, the current guidelines are not being used when there actually is an educational concern.  The spreadsheet statistics show that in 14 thousand children there are 800 concerns about education but only 47 School Attendance Orders. The Local Authorities are not using the powers they already have in the known cases and yet  the Review is  trying to say they want to be able to locate and  monitor up to 75% more EHE children in order to fulfil a duty which currently only requires them 'as far as is possible'  to locate possible children missing education. The Review does not even begin to explain this anomaly.  Why are the LA's not issuing School Attendance order if they have genuine concerns? If there are genuine concerns regarding abuse/neglect or education then there are already genuine steps a LA can take. Is the spreadsheet concern rate of 5.7% regarding education any better in the state schools when the outcomes of children leaving primary schools shows that up to 20% can barely read and write?
・    7.2  It is the contention of the concerned home educators that the recommendations of the review, given what we know of the actual substantiated cases of abuse/neglect or the educational concern rate, are disproportionate and disingenuous. The statistics used in the review are misleading and inadequate at best . Given that the basis of the review is about safeguarding and educational concerns, the lack of robust evidence is problematic in that it does not convince a discerning reader that there is a case to be put forward to change the status quo. This disproportionate response assumes guilt rather than presumed innocence and I would hope it has no place in our society any more than a compulsory registration and monitoring scheme for Moslems because we know that some Moslems may be building bombs around the kitchen table. When we already know that an unknown percentage of the 5.7% educational concerns are not legitimate concerns but merely concerns about families who do not bow under the pressure from LA's to submit to a visit or supply a forwarding address, or are because some LA's have ideas about what constitutes a suitable education which is not in line with current guidelines or law, or are children whose parents have been told or have discovered that school is not compulsory, is it any wonder the home education community is up in arms?

.    7.3  A  proper dialogue has not been initiated . There are clear areas of concern and they are not addressed as such in the Review. An open and frank discussion of real concerns on both sides and a forward plan would have been a much more beneficial way of dealing with any problems. Much of the problem seems to stem from either a misunderstanding or a dislike of the current guidelines. One suggestion made was to ask the EHE community to participate in a long term study of outcomes taking cohorts of children at different ages from five through to twenty. Paula Rothermel PHd  has done studies but her work was ignored in the Review.  There is currently no forum for Local Authorities and EHE families to come together and discuss on a local level their concerns.

・    7.4 The intention behind this Review  was to air the opinions of Local Authorities , who may or may not be understanding or following current guidelines and  the attitude  is more clearly realised in the knowledge that despite the contra-diction the EHE community has found in the Review, and the fact that the Review concluded that 'some' Local Authorities had higher numbers of concerns (educational and abuse/neglect), no-one responsible for the Review nor the DCSF have deemed it appropriate to ask certain national newspapers to retract their blaring headlines- these newspapers claim that the following quote came straight from the mouth of the author.
   ''Children Educated at Home More At Risk of Abuse''.  (The Independent).

July 2009