Memorandum submitted by North and West Yorkshire Home Educators
· Comments on the
Conduct of the Review, including on;
1. The terms of reference
2. The launch of the review
3. Character of the questions in the Consultation
4. Misrepresentation of evidence
5. Tampering with data
6. Unreliable statistics
7. Related consultations
8. Impact assessment
10. Post-review call for supporting evidence
· The constitution of
the review team, including;
11. positive points
12. negative points
13. Issues around independence/impartiality
14. Local Authority obstruction
15. DCSF obstruction
recommendations made by the review
· The Conduct of the Review and Related Consultations
1. The Scope of
the Terms of Reference for the Review
The terms of reference wrongly assume:
· That home education was
known to be a possible cover for abuse and that the "extent"
of actual risk needs investigating and preventing. The review has failed
to substantiate this claim and FOI requests have shown there is no
significant evidence. furthermore all cited cases of abuse have been in
families not hidden from the LA. This claim has laid the lives of home educated
children open to public scandal and harassment.
It is also discriminatory to isolate a group for investigation in this way for
risks of abuse in the home when other parents would not be so
there is a system in place for monitoring home education standards. There is
not - current monitoring is ultra vires. There are no set standards other than
those set by Education Act 1996 Section7.
The review set out to study how LAs carry out their duties by
investigating the extent to which they are successful in carrying out policies
that are outside their legal remit. New regulations cannot be made on this
there are barriers for those with a duty to safeguard. There are none - current
law is sufficient. Those barriers experienced by LAs are to ultra vires
practices such as compulsory home visits in the absence of reasonable concern.
· That Every Child Matters
Outcomes apply to home education - ECM outcomes are terms of reference for LAs
to be mindful of during the course of their legitimate duties, not for parents
or children to adhere to.
parents are partners with the LA and others in the education of their children
- They are not. Parents delegate their duty to educate their children to LAs
when they send children to school. Responsibility for education always rests
with the parent.
2. Launch of the Review:
The review was launched with a public attack,
repeated in the Press on many occasions, on home educating parents from various
sources which proclaimed, without evidence, that home education might be used
as a cover for child abuse.
All home educating parents are classed as potential
child abusers by this review in contravention of:
Rights Act: ARTICLE 8
"Everyone has the right to respect for his private
and family life, his home and his correspondence."
1. No child shall be subjected to ... attacks on
his or her honour and reputation.
2. The child has the right to the protection of the law
against such interference or attacks.
(Recognizing that the child, for the full and harmonious
development of his or her personality, should grow up in a family environment,
in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding,)
States Parties recognize the important function
performed by the mass media ...
To this end, States Parties shall:
(e) Encourage the development of appropriate guidelines
for the protection of the child from information and material injurious to his
or her well-being.
Character of the questions in the Consultation Document(s)
The questions in the online (six question) consultation
asked if children can attain the ECM five outcomes. The five outcomes are aims
for local authorities in the provision of services to children. They are
not a requirement for families or individual children to
attain. Children have a right to own their own lives and to develop their own
aims and objectives.
Misrepresentation of evidence:
Discussions with home educators were misrepresented or
used selectively and this unwelcome interpretation did not come to light until
FOI requests were made to DCSF.
Furthermore Dr P Rothermel's research was erroneously
dismissed by Badman, who concluded the size of the sample was too small because
he focussed only on a subsection of the research.
Cost implications and impact on families and services:
Baroness Delyth Morgan stated that the costs of
implementing this legislation will be minimal. It is our opinion, however, that
the costs of setting up the recommended state inspectorate of families and
children, its maintenance and enforcement will be considerable.
Staff working to safeguard children in real
need will find funds diverted away home educating families become subject to
routine investigation for safeguarding reasons.An estimated 50,000 children would
need to be assessed and visited in their home at least annually - compared to
the less than 20,000 known to LAs most not visited or annually assessed. The Home
Education Advisory Service (HEAS) has produced an analysis of the projected
costs estimating around £500 Million per year, which would not seem
unreasonable with that estimate of numbers, and there could always be more.
The proposal for forced right of access to
homes and access to children without their parents will undermine the
integrity and security of the home. It will confuse and damage
healthy children in a disproportionate and damaging exercise to seek out
abusers. It will contravene the right to both private and family life, and the
right to the assumption of innocence where there is no reasonable cause for
concern. Many of us will resist what amounts to state sponsored grooming
of children forced to accept unwelcome attentions against their will from
strangers in a position of authority. While not wanting to be alarmist, we see
this as pandering to a paedophile friendly agenda.
The review seeks make the education of all
children of compulsory education age the responsibility of the LA. Should
this happen, LAs would become liable for their well documented failures to
ensure the suitable education of all children; at the moment that
responsibility remains with the parent. The implications of this have not been
Also left unconsidered are the possible
costs to the judicial system. Many families will fight any criminal sanctions
that might be instigated. This might well take us back to the early days of
legal challenge to forced school attendance, when it was established that
parents had to satisfy a reasonable person that the provision of education for
a child would fit them for their place in society. It would not be surprising
if, just as then, home educating families won their legal battles, but at what
unnecessary financial cost to the nation?
Post-Review call for supporting evidence
Mr Graham Badman has recently called for
post review evidence. This would suggest that the original evidence he
collected was not sufficiently rigorous and therefore should not have been
used to inform his recommendations.
Mr Badman, former Director of
Children's Services for Kent,
cannot be said to be independent/impartial in the matter of elective home
Mr Badman's review aims to legalise long
term ultra vires policies and practices, which Mr Badman thought
appropriate in his role as Director of Children's Services for Kent, against
which home educators have previously sought the protection of law. They would
require fundamental changes to existing legislation.
Mr Badman's recent appeal to LAs for
evidence to support his findings post review, also displays his bias and
presumption of guilt of all home educators. His new questionnaire includes
those children for whom there has been no assessment and those who prefer
to offer information in response to LA enquiries in a legally acceptable
form that is not the preferred practice of the authority in the total of
children not receiving a suitable education. The other definitions of an
unsuitable education are also not
currently definitions in law: e.g. "full time" is not defined
for home education so a specific time in hours cannot be demanded if it is not
suited for a particular child.
Nektus is a private company specialising in
education management and was first registered as a company in October
2008. (Information from Companies House.) Mr and Mrs Badman are listed as
directors along with family members.
We believe that this compromises the
independence of Mr Badman as his company, set up before the review was
announced, could benefit financially from the regulation and management of
elective home education.
8. The members of the review team
Of the 12 panel members, 11 seem to have had
no experience of elective home education.
Mr Graham Badman, the leader of the
review, has, at all times when meeting with home educators. Demonstrated a lack
of understanding of home education, especially autonomous education and, as far
as we can gather, has read very little of the eminent body of literature
available to inform him in preparation for his task.
While experience of elective home education
is lacking in the panel members there is a high incidence of members
representing safeguarding for which there is no evidence of need so little
relevance to EHE, neither does the voluntary sector representation seem
relevant. There are 2 SEN representatives, both of whom are ardent supporters
of inclusion into mainstream for these children, which puts them in conflict
with the ideology of home education. 3 members are experts in ECM, so should
appreciate that the 5 outcomes should not bind parents and children, but have
not made this evident in Badman's understanding.
There is also the potential conflict of
interest in that 2 members of the panel, employed by charities offering
alternative educational provision, could gain from certain outcomes.
Recommendations Made by the Review on Elective Home Education
The launch, the report itself and the media
coverage all pay lip-service to the respect of the DCSF and Review Team for the
parents right to home educate as they see fit and claim that they only wish to
reconcile that properly with the rights of the child to a suitable education.
This seems to be no more than a deliberate attempt to alienate the public
toward home educators who "must have something to hide" if they don't
agree with the Review. Never apparent in these press releases are those details
demonstrating that the recommendations would effectively outlaw choice and
freedom in home education such that, for example, the autonomous education from
which many of our older children have benefited, will no longer be
To focus on the most contentious of the
We have already commented on our opinion and
antagonism towards the idea of giving LA officials access for monitoring
purposes to our children without parental presence.
Compulsory registration and monitoring system
This would require changes to primary
legislation. We do not see any need for such changes. Not only would they prove
costly financially but they would shift the burden of responsibility for
education from the parent to the state.
Legislating for the monitoring of home
education has already been mentioned as a foregone conclusion in the
"Improving schools and safeguarding children bill" on June 29th:
http://www.commonsleader.gov.uk/output/Page2831.asp four months before the public consultation on
the subject of the monitoring of home education is due to end. (The closing
date for responses 19th October 2009)
advises that "the DCSF review the current statutory definition of what
constitutes a "suitable" and "efficient" education in the light
of the Rose review of the primary curriculum."
The Rose review is about rearrangement
to the National Curriculum FOR SCHOOLS and does not apply to home educated
children who are to be educated according to section seven of the Education Act
The consultation document proposes that
"where there are serious concerns about the ability of the parent to
provide their child with a suitable education in a safe environment then they
should not be permitted to educate their child at home."
already makes provision for a School Attendance Order to be
issued where a parent fails to cause a child to receive a suitable education
otherwise than at school and Supervision or Care Orders to be issued where a
child is at risk.
It makes no sense whatsoever to claim that
if a child's home is unsafe then this can be remedied by sending the child to
school though the child will be in the home at all other times than school
hours. Safeguarding issues are not served by these recommendations
If it education is not suitable there is
already a remedy in Section 437 of the Education Act 1996. Consulting on this
issue was always, therefore, a waste of public funds.
This recommendation conflicts
directly with the Education Act 1996, Section 7 which provides
that the parent is responsible for deciding where a child's education takes
place and also with the Education
(Pupil Registration) Regulations 2006 which provide that a
parent may remove a child from the school register to educate the child
otherwise than at school and that deregistration must take place with immediate
It is also in direct conflict with that
fundamental principle of English law - the presumption of innocence.
There is no justice in a local authority having the right to prejudge whether a
parent may in the future fail in their legal duty to provide a suitable
education in accordance with the Education Act 1996. But by putting in the
phrase, "any other concern", it allows for LA personnel to do just
that, leaving the parent no opportunity for legal redress.
Home Educating families are a fairly average
cross section of the community. There are likely to be children at risk amongst
them, but, we would argue, that, not only will there be a lower percentage of
children at risk amongst home educating families, because the neglectful or
careless parent would be more likely to want a free child minding service and
those children who were at risk because of bullying in school will have been
removed from that situation, but there are already statutes in place to deal
with safeguarding issues.
We would recommend that, before you sit to
look at these recommendations, you read the work of Paula Rothermel and Alan
Thomas, and also Jan Fortune-Wood, Roland Meighan, John Holt, John Taylor Gatto
and Alice Miller; and that you look at some of the educational philosophies of
home educators, posted on the Education Otherwise website amongst others. Then
you may come to this with some understanding of where home educators are coming
from and how the changes recommended by Graham Badman could be damaging to the
concept of Home Education.
We don't know how true it is, but it has
been suggested that somewhere in the rubric of the Lisbon Treaty is a
recommendation to bring the EU in line with those member states where home
education is illegal-in line with Hitler's 3rd Reich directive. Sweden is
pushing ahead now. I see no reason why Lisbon
should be allowed to achieve what Hitler failed to manage.