Memorandum submitted by SG Marshall and L Daley

The review was based on a flawed premise - there is no greater risk of abuse for electively home educated children - it is in fact less.

Children known to social care is not the same as children at risk of abuse.

The abuse rate in the EHE community is one quarter of that in the general child population.

Badman's figures are skewed through self-selection of LAs who have a problem with EHE. 40% did not answer the first consultation and a mere 17% answered the second questionnaire.

At least 106 LAs have a zero rate of abuse amongst the EHE children in their locality.

England is not the only liberal country as far as home educating law goes. Many states in the USA are just as liberal as is Canada. Germany banned home education under Hitler in 1938. New Zealand have just scrapped reviews of home educators provision as it is a waste of money for such a low risk group.

80-95% of respondents to the public online consultation wanted no change to the status quo but have been completely ignored.

Graham Badman is now asking LAs for more evidence to bolster his case before the Select Committee. This seems highly irregular.

A petition calling on the government to reject the report entirely has over 3,300 signatures, so it is not 'a few home educators, as Badman claims.

Look at those LAs who have a good relationship with home educators to see what can be learnt from them.

 

Introduction

1. We are Stuart G. Marshall FRSH P Dip. BSc. Cert Ed. FETC and Lynn Daley BSc. BEng. Cert Ed. FETC. We are home educating our two children along with running two successful companies and a home education support group. We are both qualified FE teachers with many years experience and produce educational materials, including books and DVDs for FE colleges.

Evidence

2. We aim to show that the premise of the review, i.e. that elective home educated children are more at risk of abuse than schooled children is simply not true. Neither does school provide a safe environment or a suitable education for many children. 40% of children leave primary school without the basic skills that they need.[1] One in six leave secondary school without the government target of 5 good GCSE passes.[2]

3. In paragraph 8.12 of his review, Badman[3] states: "...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."

4. This lead to headlines such as Children educated at home more at risk of abuse[4] in the national press. The above article went on to claim:

5. "Children educated at home are twice as likely to be on social services registers for being at risk of abuse as the rest of the population, the head of a government inquiry into home education said yesterday."

6. Clearly known to Children's Social Care, which includes those children in need of services because they have a disability for example, and at risk of abuse are two separate matters and should not be conflated. Anecdotal evidence for example suggests that the proportion of EHE children with disabilities is greater than in the general population as it is these children in particular whose needs are not met being met by many schools. This is not a problme as families are uch more able to cater to their children's needs on a one to one basis.

7. Home educators therefore placed many requests to the DCFS under the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) 2000 to release the evidence that Badman had used for these assertions. In one annex which was released[5] Badman states that 90 of the 150 Local Authorities (LAs) replied to his initial request for evidence. It is worth noting that this is only a 60% response rate and it is reasonable to assume that the other 40% did not reply as they felt that the current regulatory framework for Elective Home Education is perfectly adequate.

8. These 90 LAs answered a questionnaire along the lines of Appendix C in the Badman review. Some answered a longer online version which is no longer available. However, both versions asked:

9. "Thinking about your local area, in the last five years, how many cases have you come across that use the premise of home education as a 'cover' for child abuse, forced marriage or other aspects of child neglect?" [6]

10. As far as we are aware, the figures gained in answer to this question have not been released. Nor where they given in the report.

11. A further questionnaire[7] was then sent to these 90 LAs, a copy of which has been released under a FOI request but was not published in the report. The full results of this questionnaire have not been published but a summary can be found in this release from the DCSF[8] in which it states that 25 LAs provided partial answers. 25 LAs is a very small (16.7%), self-selecting sample on which to base the claim that EHE children are twice as likely to be known to Children's Social Care.

12. It is interesting to note that the proportion of children at risk of abuse is not stated. Since this figure would provide more solid evidence for Badman's assertion that EHE children need greater protection and oversight, it begs the question why it was not published in the report.

13. In order to discover what the abuse rate actually is, a series of FOI requests were placed to all LAs using the What Do They Know website[9]. Figures for the 2008-09 academic year have been obtained for 128 of the 150 LAs which are listed in Appendix A (these figures along with links to the original FOI requests[10] are available online). These figures show that the abuse rate amongst EHE children is 0.29% which is a quarter of the abuse rate amongst all children of 1.3%. This rate is calculated from a figure of 142,459 children at risk of abuse or neglect taken from the Children in Need Survey 2005[11] (the latest survey available) out of a total child population of 11,000,000. This figure has been extrapolated up as the Survey only gave a 61% snapshot.

14. Table A, page 19 of the Children in Need Survey 2005 also shows that Badman's statement about some LAs having a disproportionately higher incidence of children known to social care is disingenuous since the LAs vary enormously for all children. They range from 10 per thousand in Hampshire and 14 per thousand in North Yorkshire to 37 per thousand in Kingston upon Hull and Westminster at 67 per thousand, with the English average at 21 per thousand.

15. Our figures also show that a total of 106 LAs have zero EHE children at risk of abuse and another 12 have a lower rate than the average for all children. This is over 92% of the 128 LAs who have provided full figures for analysis. Only 10 LAs have an EHE abuse rate higher than the national average accounting for only 25 children in total.

16. Of the LAs who did not provide figures 9 of them stated that they did not keep records of numbers of their EHE population who were at risk of abuse, which suggests that numbers were low. In addition, 7 refused to answer either because the numbers were so low that it could identify individual children or because they did not keep a list and would have to trawl through each individual child's record to check, again suggesting very little problem.

17. In paragraph 11.1 of his report, Badman states that England is one of the most liberal countries in which to home educate. He fails to mention that Canada and many states in the USA are equally as liberal. As a country who's legal history is based on a presumption of innocence this is as it should be. For the report to mention the fact that EHE is illegal in Germany without also mentioning that this law was enacted by Adolf Hitler in order to ensure that all children could be indoctrinated into the Hitler Youth is simply incredible[12].

18. In addition, in February 2009 the New Zealand government announced that they would no longer conduct monitoring reviews on elective home educators, since they were such a low risk group:

19. "Echoing then Minister of Education Dr Lockwood Smith in 1994, that he could not justify the expense of regular reviews on such a low-risk group as home educators, Chief Review Officer Graham Stoop wrote in February this year that reviews of home educators are not efficient or effective. Posted on the ERO website is the following: "From 1 July 2009 ERO will carry out reviews only when requested by the Secretary for Education, or in other particular circumstances"[13]

20. Are English home educating families really so different from New Zealand families?

21. The responses to the public consultation have also been released by the DCSF in a FOI request[14]. Despite an overwhelming 80-95% of the responses stating that the current system is fine and children are easily able to meet the ECM targets Badman chose to ignore those in favour of the status quo.

22. Finally, Graham Badman has recently asked the LAs for further evidence[15] to bolster his case for more rigorous monitoring of elective home educators. This seems highly irregular to say the least. In his letter he claims that a small number of home educators have refused to accept some of his figures. This is not the case: many EHE groups, both local and national are united in their rejection of the whole report. The petition on the government website: We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Reject the Report to the Secretary of State on the Review of Elective Home Education in England by Graham Badman[16] has over 3,300 signatures.

Recommendations

23. We suggest that there is no evidence that elective home education is being used as a cover for abuse or forced marriage, nor that many children are not receiving a suitable education, although the same cannot be said of schools, and call on the committee to reject this review and end the constant harassment that home educators have endured for the last few years.

24. Look at those LAs, such as Milton Keynes, who have a good relationship with home educators and spread this good practise to the others.

25. Provide home educators with the legal safeguards that other minority groups receive.

 

September 2009

 


Appendix 1 - Abuse Rate for Electively Home Educated Children

LA

EHE children at risk of abuse

Total No of EHE Children

Abuse Rate

Barking and Dagenham

0

70

0.0%

Barnet

0

54

0.0%

Barnsley

0

66

0.0%

Bath and North East Somerset

0

52

0.0%

Bedfordshire

0

112

0.0%

Bexley

0

124

0.0%

Birmingham

1

339

0.3%

Blackburn with Darwen

0

50

0.0%

Blackpool

2

104

1.9%

Bolton

Refused to say

93

Unknown

Bournemouth

0

81

0.0%

Bracknell Forest

0

21

0.0%

Bradford

2

118

1.7%

Brent

0

104

0.0%

Brighton and Hove

3

157

1.9%

Bristol, City of

0

119

0.0%

Bromley

2

127

1.6%

Buckinghamshire

0

178

0.0%

Bury

0

39

0.0%

Calderdale Borough Council

0

28

0.0%

Cambridgeshire

not known

278

Unknown

Camden

0

61

0.0%

Cheshire

not known

244

Unknown

City of London

0

1

0.0%

Cornwall

not known

349

Unknown

Coventry

0

55

0.0%

Croydon

1

112

0.9%

Cumbria

0

248

0.0%

Darlington

0

87

0.0%

Derby City 

Refused to say

82

Unknown

Derbyshire

0

283

0.0%

Devon

not known

674

Unknown

Doncaster

0

227

0.0%

Dorset County Council

0

161

0.0%

Dudley

0

152

0.0%

Durham 

0

50

0.0%

Ealing

0

49

0.0%

East Riding of Yorkshire

0

138

0.0%

East Sussex

not known

300

Unknown

Enfield

3

70

4.3%

Essex county

0

576

0.0%

Gateshead

0

28

0.0%

Gloucestershire

0

289

0.0%

Greenwich

0

93

0.0%

Hackney

0

57

0.0%

Halton

0

30

0.0%

Hammersmith and Fulham

0

51

0.0%

Hampshire

0

420

0.0%

Haringey

0

84

0.0%

Harrow

0

67

0.0%

Hartlepool

0

12

0.0%

Havering

1

114

0.9%

Herefordshire

0

107

0.0%

Hertfordshire

1

350

0.3%

Hillingdon

0

108

0.0%

Hounslow

0

47

0.0%

Hull

0

120

0.0%

Isle of Wight

0

183

0.0%

Isles of Scilly

0

0

0.0%

Islington

0

52

0.0%

Kensington and Chelsea

0

35

0.0%

Kent

0

674

0.0%

Kingston upon Thames

0

33

0.0%

Kirklees

0

92

0.0%

Knowsley

0

6

0.0%

Lambeth

awaiting response

 

Unknown

Lancashire

0

479

0.0%

Leeds

0

150

0.0%

Leicester City

refused to say

159

Unknown

Leicestershire county

1

205

0.5%

Lewisham

not known

183

Unknown

Lincolnshire

not known

403

Unknown

Liverpool 

0

63

0.0%

Luton 

1

110

0.9%

Manchester

0

64

0.0%

Medway

0

99

0.0%

Merton

Refused to say

36

Unknown

Middlesbrough

not known

 

Unknown

Milton Keynes

0

118

0.0%

Newcastle upon Tyne

2

awaiting response

Unknown

Newham

0

59

0.0%

Norfolk

0

474

0.0%

North East Lincolnshire

0

60

0.0%

North Lincolnshire

0

38

0.0%

North Somerset

0

122

0.0%

North Tyneside

0

16

0.0%

North Yorkshire

2

264

0.8%

Northamptonshire

2

279

0.7%

Northumberland county

0

57

0.0%

Nottingham City 

Refused to say

103

Unknown

Nottinghamshire

2

awaiting response

Unknown

Oldham

0

54

0.0%

Oxfordshire

0

287

0.0%

Peterborough

6

108

5.6%

Plymouth

1

112

0.9%

Poole

0

41

0.0%

Portsmouth

refused to say

44

Unknown

Reading

0

55

0.0%

Redbridge

0

60

0.0%

Redcar and Cleveland

0

28

0.0%

Richmond upon Thames

0

46

0.0%

Rochdale borough council

0

79

0.0%

Rotherham 

0

82

0.0%

Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead

0

31

0.0%

Rutland

0

9

0.0%

Salford

0

33

0.0%

Sandwell

0

85

0.0%

Sefton

0

54

0.0%

Sheffield

1

147

0.7%

Shropshire

1

162

0.6%

Slough

0

36

0.0%

Solihull

0

59

0.0%

Somerset

0

249

0.0%

South Gloucestershire

0

97

0.0%

South Tyneside

0

24

0.0%

Southampton

0

82

0.0%

Southend-on-Sea

0

58

0.0%

Southwark

0

87

0.0%

St Helens

0

32

0.0%

Staffordshire

0

321

0.0%

Stockport

0

44

0.0%

Stockton on Tees

0

26

0.0%

Stoke on Trent

0

60

0.0%

Suffolk County Council

0

303

0.0%

Sunderland

0

42

0.0%

Surrey

0

630

0.0%

Sutton

1

62

1.6%

Swindon

0

87

0.0%

Tameside

0

39

0.0%

Telford and Wrekin

0

95

0.0%

Thurrock

0

 

0.0%

Torbay

0

92

0.0%

Tower Hamlets

0

72

0.0%

Trafford

0

41

0.0%

Wakefield

0

88

0.0%

Walsall 

0

76

0.0%

Waltham Forest

4

63

6.3%

Wandsworth

4

awaiting response

Unknown

Warrington

awaiting response

 

Unknown

Warwickshire

4

142

2.8%

West Berkshire

2

45

4.4%

West Sussex

not known

385

Unknown

Westminster

0

39

0.0%

Wigan

0

75

0.0%

Wiltshire county council

0

148

0.0%

Wirral

0

39

0.0%

Wokingham 

0

57

0.0%

Wolverhampton

awaiting response

100

Unknown

Worcestershire

refused to say

195

Unknown

City of York

0

67

0.0%

 



[1] http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/education/school_league_tables/article6738359.ece

[2] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1896234/One-in-six-leaving-without-basic-GCSEs.html

[3] Badman, G, 2009, Report to the Secretary of State on the Review of Elective Home Education in England, The Stationery Office

[4] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/children-educated-at-home-more-at-risk-of-abuse-1703220.html

[5]http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/14543/response/41308/attach/html/3/Safeguarding%20evidence%20briefing%20paper%202%204.doc.html

[6] Question 22, Appendix C, page 65

[7]http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/15157/response/40873/attach/html/3/Additional%20data%20request.doc.html

[8]http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/14543/response/41308/attach/html/3/Safeguarding%20evidence%20briefing%20paper%202%204.doc.html

[9] http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/

[10]http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0Ai6DMKb7rpYfcmJyazUtR0VkclVkY21maTY3ME1paGc&hl=en_GB

[11] Table 5 Abuse or Neglect http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/rsgateway/DB/VOL/v000647/vweb02-2006.pdf

[12] http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2008/feb/24/schools.uk

[13] http://hef.org.nz/2009/no-more-ero-reviews/

[14]http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/14635/response/41721/attach/html/3/Responses%20to%20the%20Consultation%20-%20Statistics%20-%20Annex%20A.doc.html

[15] http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/everychildmatters/publications/documents/laeelectivehomeeducation/

[16] http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/EHEreview/