Memorandum submitted by the Epsom & Sutton Home Education Group
Submitter: The Epsom & Sutton Home Education Group, a group of around 25 home educating families who meet regularly to share social interaction, educational resources and support.
● The Review fails to make a strong enough case for the necessity of the draconian and disproportionate measures it recommends.
● The Review fails to provide any serious evidence that home educated children are at any particular risk of abuse.
● Some of the evidence presented is quoted out of context or otherwise distorted.
● There were no home educators on the panel of the Review.
● The outcome of the Review was pre-judged as it seems the outcome of the ongoing Consultation is.
● Some of the Review's recommendations violate children's rights to the extent that they could be judged as abuse themselves.
1. The Review claims that "... on the basis of local authority evidence and case studies presented, even acknowledging the variation between authorities, the number of children known to children's social care in some local authorities is disproportionately high relative to the size of their home educating population." which is a meaningless statement given that the total number of home educating families is actually unknown. In fact, the Review has stated no evidence of any abuse hidden by home educators, and ignored the well-known and high incidence of abuse in schools, by comparison, completely.
2. Where abuse is suspected, the Social Services already have powers to deal with it adequately (albeit not always exercised correctly). This is the remit of the welfare services, not the education services, and therefore has no place in a review dealing with elective home education.
3. Given that the Review's recommendations include a substantial infringement on the privacy of the family, the individual and the child, the fact that they have presented no valid evidence for such drastic measures is extremely worrying.
4. Some evidence was ignored or distorted by the Review, such as the Church of England's submission which concluded: '10 We have seen no evidence to show that the majority of home educated children do not achieve the five Every Child Matters outcomes, and are therefore not convinced of the need to change the current system of monitoring the standard of home education. Where there are particular concerns about the children in a (sic) home-educating this should be a matter for Children's Services.' This statement was omitted from the Review while various trivial concerns expressed the Church were discussed at length.
5. Other large-scale and relevant studies on home education, such as by Paula Rothermel, were also dismissed and not even included.
6. Given that this was a Review on Elective Home Education, there were no home educators, home educated people, or experts/researchers specifically on home education included on the panel. In fact, with the exception of Professor James Conroy and possibly Professor Stephen Heppell, it seemed to be made entirely of specialists on school-based education or those with a professional interest in safeguarding issues.
7. Graham Badman was quoted more than once as saying that things would have to change, before the Review was concluded, showing that he had pre-judged on the issue on personal opinion, rather than weighing up evidence he had collected. The fact that 'improving monitoring arrangements for children educated at home' has already been included on the Improving Schools and Safeguarding Children Bill for inclusion in the Draft Legislative Programme for 2009/2010, despite the Consultation having another ten weeks to run, shows unseemly haste to push through these proposals and an obvious lack of intention to pay attention to the Consultation's findings.
8. The Review's recommendations that Local Authorities should have the right to enter private family homes and interview children without parents present, even if there are no grounds for any suspicion, violate the children's rights and allows them to be treated as criminals. It also violates the rights of parents to be innocent until proven guilty, as is the guiding principle of our legal system. As such, this proposal oversteps a significant boundary into private family life, and should only be considered in the most drastic of dire circumstances, which the Review has not remotely shown home education to be.