Memorandum submitted by Karen FitzGerald
Elective Home Education Inquiry
· Home education and safeguarding are separate issues
· Graham Badman has not understood home education and how children learn out of school
· The 'evidence' is neither substantiated nor representative; pro-home education evidence is ignored
· Existing laws governing home education are adequate
· Recommendations are ill-conceived, expensive and contravene English, European and Human rights legislation; affect all children and change the relationship of the State, parents and children
1. There are two separate strands to this Review, arguably three; education, protection and welfare. Had the Terms of Reference delineated these different aspects, the resulting report would have been clearer. Continually playing the child protection card is emotive and hinders constructive debate.
Home Education: the legal bases
E of the Review of Elective Home Education sets out the legislative framework
governing home education (and the separate 'safeguarding' responsibilities of
Ian Dowty considers "the powers available to Local Authorities completely
adequate to ensure that children of compulsory school age receive a suitable
view was shared by Lord Adonis and quoted by Andrew George, MP, during the home
education debate at Westminster Hall [b].
further questions whether the Revised Statutory Guidance for Local Authorities
to identify children not receiving a suitable education, issued January 2009, "is not an unlawful extension outside the
scope of the enabling section 436A Education Act 1996" and "whether
it goes no further than the 'duty to be alert' proposed in Phillips v Brown" [a]
the guidelines are truly "unworkable" as stated in paragraph 1.3 of the Review,
why don't all Local Authorities find them unworkable and why isn't the issue
addressed with the individual Authorities?
Home Education: practice and effectiveness
many references to not being prescriptive, the Review seeks to enforce the school
model on home educators.
Thomas and Harriet Pattison found informal learning, also described as
autonomous or child-led, as highly efficient [c]
by Dr. Paula Rothermel found home educated children often out-performed school
their going peers, especially among lower socio-economic groups [d]
only are the voices of such Consultees not heard, their evidence is arbitrarily
is the responsibility of parents (Annex E), yet Recommendation 1 makes the
choice to educate other than at school dependent on the Local Authority
granting an annual licence.
Effectively this is the State registering a child, which contravenes
existing Regulations [f] and primary legislation [g] [h]
requirement of a plan and outcomes, against which children will be later be
measured (Recommendations 7 and 8), shows Badman has neither understood home
education practice nor accepted its effectiveness [c, d]
highlights the conflict of interest in giving Local Authorities parental
responsibility and judicial duty, and the use of laws that reverse the
presumption of innocence enshrined in Article 6 European Convention of Human
parents are driven to home educate following prolonged bullying which the
school is unable to stop. Andrew George,
MP, made this point [b] and Education Otherwise, among others, find it
necessary to provide specialist anti-bullying support [i]. It seems unbelievably cruel to suggest a
child stay in this damaging situation for another 20 days (Recommendation 1).
15. IF controversial registration and monitoring were put in place, a transparent appeals system would be needed.
education perhaps most accurately describes education out of school. Much time
is spent in the community by children whose education is home-based, thus there
are many opportunities for 'other eyes to bear' [j]. The children's survey 'Home educated, not
hidden' demonstrates this fact [k]
Terms of Reference sought to identify "The extent to which home education could
be used as a 'cover' for child abuse ....." but no findings are given.
there is no safeguarding issue there is no right of access to the home under
current law (Recommendation 7). If it
were mandated it would apply to all children.
National Association of Social Workers in Education accepts that "Elective Home
Education has become conflated with safeguarding concerns which may exist
regardless of the method by which a child receives education" [l]
23 refers both to "properly evidenced concerns" and "anything else which may
affect their (parents') ability to provide a suitable and efficient education". The latter is too subjective and the former
outside the remit of "those charged with
monitoring ... home education".
21. If registration is refused or revoked on safeguarding grounds (Recommendation 24), is it safe for that child (children) to be with those parents at all?
Child Matters is not about child protection.
Further, Local Authorities do not have any duty to ensure home educated
children achieve the five ECM outcomes [h]
notes "it is really important to re-affirm the difference in approach between
child protection and the delivery of services ... particularly in the case of
home educating families [a]. Recommendation
22 conflates these issues.
9: Why is training in the subjective Common Assessment Framework necessary?
the Children's Act 2004, a Local Authority must have regard not only to
guidance issued by the government but, crucially, also
elsewhere, Badman arbitrarily dismisses the views of parents in section 8,
raises questions which require further research
while basing recommendations on his own views and, by his own admission,
a 'small sample' of Local Authorities [n]
Otherwise have been told by home educators that their outcomes were dismissed,
although the input from just four families in the NFER study was accepted [h]
form a Freedom of Information enquiry revealed that just 25 out of 153 Local
Authorities replied to Badman's original request for information [o]
29. Recommendation 21 refers explicitly to "current speculation" and "child protection concerns .... which may well be exaggerated"
now is Badman calling for "good quality factual information" that is
"statistically robust" [n]. Surely this
is an admission that the Review and its recommendations are prejudiced and thus
31. In considering the 'balance between the rights of the parents and the rights of the child' [m] and 'giving children a voice' [o], does Badman realise this applies to schooled children too?!!
Children with Special Educational Needs
I am not qualified to comment on the Recommendations made in respect of children identified as having special educational needs, but hope you will listen to those with knowledge of the area.
Article 29 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child endorses "respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms" in the education of the child and, notably,
"the preparation of the child for responsible life in a free society, in the spirit of understanding, peace, tolerance equality ...."
Badman has written his own prescriptive philosophy of education. His report is contradictory, unlawful, unrepresentative
and unsubstantiated, citing safeguarding issues to push forward damaging
If accepted they will destroy home-based education as currently practised by many with its attendant positive results, the happiness of these children and their families which is surely at the heart of well-being and achievement, affect all children and change the relationship of the State, parents and children irrevocably.
[a] Ian Dowty 'The Home Education Review' Education Otherwise Newsletter June 2009
[b] Mark Field's Westminster Hall debate on Home Education, 9 June 2009
[c] Thomas, A and Pattison, H (2007) How Children Learn at Home. London, Continuum International Publishing Group
P (2002) Home Education: Rationales, Practices and Outcomes. Unpublished PhD Thesis,
[e] Review of Elective Home education, paragraph 10.2
Registration Regulations England 2006
434, Education Act 1996
of a meeting held with Barrister Ian Dowty, Home Education Advisory Service and
Education, 4 July 2009.
Otherwise, Registered Charity No. 1055120
[j] Review of Elective Home education, paragraph 8.4
[k] Children's survey at http:// www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=veji5Wd5BwIHLOxVB1hCRA_3d_3d
[l] Review of Elective Home Education, paragraph 8.8
[m] Review of Elective Home education, paragraph 1.5
[n] Letter from Graham Badman, DSCF, dated
18 September 2009
[o] Education Otherwise Press Release 18 September 2009
[p] Review of Elective Home Education,