Memorandum submitted by ReactivEO
About ReactivEO, the Authors of this submission
We are all members of a local home education group (ActivEO)
that organises educational activities among some 50 families across
Having become aware of the Badman review and the possible effects on us and our home educated children, a number of us have got together to coordinate our response to Badman. (Note: ActivEO is an apolitical organisation, and as such could not provide a response).
Approximately 20 families have worked directly on this response, drawing on their personal experiences via an ad-hoc social network of some 200 home-ed families, but closer to 90 families have given direct support, ideas and encouragement. It is notable that many non-home educating families have expressed support for us and believe the Badman recommendations undermine family values and infringe a freedom they currently choose not to exercise.
Scope of this memorandum
In keeping with the request of the Select Committee we looked into the conduct of the review and related consultations.
To this end we concentrated on the how the review does not adhere to the government's own code of practice on consultation and the poor level and quality of evidence gathered and the bias of the report.
These points are laid out in the appendix to this memorandum.
However recent events have highlighted the second point mentioned above even more succinctly.
Quality of Research
The latest request for more information from local authorities to justify the reviews findings and recommendations further highlight the use of personal opinion and bias.
The request is not for more information on EHE in general, but a specific request for information to back up already made accusations of child abuse.
To provide as it is said 'good quality factual information', this surely begs the question, what were the original conclusions and recommendations based on if not if not good quality factual information?
On this basis one can also argue that the other recommendations also suffer from the same lack of 'good quality factual information'.
The request for the information at this stage, when there is already a consultation active and proposals for legislation in the queens speech based on the recommendations that purportedly were arrived at by the evidence gathered by the review, is concerning to all.
It is worrying to think that potential legislative changes that will further erode individual's rights and make criminals of many people are not based on 'good quality factual information'.
The following is a link to the dcsf request.
We believe that this review into elective home education is flawed and factually incorrect and that its recommendations be suspended.
We also think it a great shame that this opportunity to look into EHE, the reasons for its growing popularity and the benefits it offers to the children and society have been lost.
Summary of the main points:
A) We would like to call into
question the fact that this review does not adhere to the
1a) Criterion 1.2, when to consult, states that "there is no point consulting when everything is already settled". Yet legislation has already been drafted and parts of it added to the Queen's speech, despite the fact that the results of the current consultation will not be made public until next January. Therefore the consultation won't affect policy outcome.
2a) Criterion 3.2 states that consultation exercises should be clear about the scope of the exercise, setting out what has already been decided, and so is not in the scope of the consultation". This consultation was ostensibly about finding out whether home education was used as a cover for forced marriage, domestic servitude or abuse. No evidence was found of any of these things and yet 24 recommendations were still drafted. This would imply that the scope of the consultation was not clear at all, and that much of the legislation had been decided before the consultation took place.
3a) Criterion 3.3 states that "estimates of the costs and benefits of the policy options under consideration should normally form an integral part of consultation exercises" and yet no cost analysis was produced for LAs.
4a) Criterion 3.5 states that "questions in the consultation should be as clear as possible, a mixture of open and closed questions will often be desirable, and consideration should be given to offering consultees the opportunity to express views on related issues not specifically addressed in the questions". This was not done. The online questionnaire available to the public contained only a limited number of closed and extremely leading questions, which were very difficult to give anything other than an affirmative answer to. There was no scope for deviating from what was asked.
5a) Criterion 4.4 states how "thought should be given to alternative versions of consultation documents which could be used to reach a wider audience", yet the only method of response was an online form.
6a) Criterion 5.1 states that "when preparing a consultation exercise it is important to consider carefully how the burden of consultation can be minimized" It goes on to state that parties "will not welcome being asked the same questions time and time again". Yet this is exactly what has happened to home educators, who have been asked similar questions over and over again in producing section 4 of the November 2006 Education Inspection Bill, in the July 2007 Home Education Guidelines for National Authorities, in the October 2008 Every Child Matters Draft Education Bill and again for the Badman Review.
7a) Criterion 6 states that "consultation responses should be analysed carefully and clear feedback should be provided". In particular, 6.1 states that it is primarily a qualitative rather than quantitive exercise. Despite this, Badman draws out very dubious statistics from the responses, which do not follow acceptable methodology. He quotes the median for children known to LAs with no reference as to why this has been used instead of the more common mean, and extrapolates figures from 25 of the 150 LAs to national level, when 65 of the 90 asked gave no response. If this was because there were no figures to report, his methods would skew the results enormously. He also fails to mention that EHE children are often known to SS because some LAs refer automatically just by virtue of the child being out of school, or because children have SEN. This casts serious doubts on any results and implications drawn from them. Also, using "known to SS" instead of quoting "recorded abuse" is misleading and is an error of operationalisation.
8a) Criterion 6.2 states that "it is important to understand who different bodies represent, and how the response has been pulled together". Yet in point 8.6 of the review, Badman states that he has also analysed "recent serious case reviews" without being clear as to what these are, and when there are no recent serious case reviews which directly have relevance to home education.
Throughout the review, Badman uses bias rather than fact. This is contrary to the method of a non prejudiced reviewer.
1b) He uses the phrase "I believe" 16 times in his review. This is a personal opinion rather than a factual finding. In addition, he uses subjective expressions e.g. 3.1 and 8.5 "I am not persuaded." 10.2 "I am not convinced." 10.4 "I suspect."
2b) Selective use of quotes, which are misleading. For example at 4.8 he uses a quote from the Education Division of the Church of England which says "that young children not in formal education are missing the benefits and challenges of learning in a community with their peers." Etc etc yet he ignores other sections from their response e.g.
"5 As Christians, we cannot condone the use of home education as a cover for any form of child abuse. We are not aware of any research that shows how prevalent this is or whether it is widespread. Prevention of abuse under the cover of home education seems to be the main reason for this review, and in making it so, has the effect of tarnishing the reputation of the many parents who choose to home educate their children from the best of motives."
And their conclusion:
"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 home-educating this should be a matter for Children's Services."
Likewise, His quote from the NSPCC has been revoked by the NSPCC and they have apologised for making incorrect links to child abuse and EHE (See section 8.6).
3b) Badman says that he has analysed serious case reviews (8.6), yet he does not say which ones they are. What is known is that of all the published cases of child abuse, children were either in care, or known to social services and were under investigation, yet SS still failed to save these children. The only known case of an elective home educating family seriously abusing their children is the "Eunice Spry" case, and again, this family were known to social services (indeed, the children requested help from SS). However, he does not make any of this clear in his review. In addition, he continues to refer to these cases as if the family had chosen to home educate, when this is not the case.
4b) Throughout the review, references are made to what LA's want, and noted. Home educators stated requirements are mostly ignored. Badman has not once asked why some LA's fail to meet the needs of Elective Home Educators. This demonstrates a bias to LA's.
5b) Despite enormous quantities of research into the benefits of Home Education, he chooses to ignore it. This is seen from the outset of the introduction, 1.2 where he states:
"I am impressed, but not convinced... He has found facts, e.g. that the people he has met "are extraordinarily accomplished" yet he dismisses that this could be a universal picture. He has not stated what is "accomplished" and he demonstrates his failure to understand Home Education by not reviewing in depth the nature and outcomes of home education.
6b) Recommendation 22 assumes that Home Educating families are abusers, and are more likely to abuse than non home educators. The statistics do not bear this out, and just from information requested via "The Freedom of Information Act" for information withheld from the review:
local authorities have answered for over 14 thousand children
The added bias is that Badman does not even state why Electively Home Educated families are known to Social Services. Some LA's take it upon themselves to automatically inform SS every time a child is removed from the school register to be home educated.
6b) Annex C. This questionnaire is poorly worded and misleading. The Every Child Matters Outcomes are neither legally enforceable, nor applicable to people outside of government organisations. Home Educators are not part of the state schooling system; therefore these questions alone are outside the scope for this re view on Home Education.
C) Inappropriate quoting of European Law.
Conclusion 11.1. Whilst Education was compulsory in pre WWW2 Germany, it was normal for children to be educated both in school and at home. In 1938, under Adolph Hitler, the Nazis made attendance at school compulsory, with non compliance a punishable offence. They also closed down all private schools.
Within Reactiveo, we have had German
families who had to flee from
Is this what Graham Badman intends for this country?
Change of situation in
11.1. Mention of