Memorandum submitted by Berkshire Home Education Group
Inquiry into the DCSF-commissioned review of elective home education
As the Berkshire Home Education Group we urgently ask you to object to the recommendations made by Mr. Graham Badman in his Review of Elective Home Education and to those made in the government's subsequent consultation.
We ask you to do so because Mr. Badman's Review presents no ground to support any of the proposed changes in the status quo. Mr. Badman
1. Bases his recommendations on the assumption that home education might be a cover up for child abuse and/or forced marriages. However, nowhere in his report does he support this assumption with hard facts and the 'evidence' he does present appears to be faulty or untrue.
2. Has carried out his investigation in a scientifically and methodologically unsound way.
3. Fails to give an accurate
description of the current law governing home education in
4. Inaccurately states that local officials are limited to informal methods of seeking remediation, although a comprehensive system of checks and balances is already in place.
5. Inaccurately claims that English home educators are presently governed by the most liberal laws among peer nations.
6. Proposes a method of compulsory assessments of home educated children that violates the Human Rights Act of 1998 and Article 8 of the ECHR.
7. Proposes a method of home visits as a means of evaluation of the suitability of home education which fails the four standards for proper assessment: validity, reliability, impact, and practicability.
Mr. Badman laces his Review with thoughts, opinions and suspicions instead of objective, measurable data. When he does present 'evidence' for the possibility of abuse, it appears to be misleading, faulty or untrue. The fact that Mr. Badman has suddenly felt the urge to ask local authorities around the country for more information, underlines the poor quality of his investigation.
In terms of methodology, we have several complaints.
The questionnaire used was suggestive, subjective and unbalanced.
The experts consulted during the review, portrayed no expertise regarding the issue of home education. Their input is therefore questionable.
Consulted home educators received a rather limited questionnaire with very different questions from the 'experts'. The conclusions Mr. Badman made, based on the different questionnaires, are consequently invalid, biased and unbalanced.
Both the objectivity and the
professionalism of the Review are called into question by its failure to fully
describe the complete operation of current law.
Section 437 (1) of the Education act
imposes a duty on "a local education authority" to give notice to any parent
"if it appears that a child of compulsory school age in their area is not
receiving suitable education."
The law permits parents two paths to seek review of the attendance order:
Administrative review. Under Section 442, a parent may request the local authority to remove the attendance order on the grounds that suitable education is being provided. If the local authority refuses to remove the order, the parent may appeal to the Secretary of State who is given wide discretion in fashioning a course of action for the child in question.
Thus, effective means are clearly available
to pursue home educating parents who fail to provide a proper education for
Mr. Badman writes: "International
comparison suggests that of all countries with highly developed education
Just as in
Therefore it is inaccurate to suggest that
Badman's key recommendation is that local authorities should be given the power to:
· Compel entry into the homes of families engaged in home education.
· Separate the child from his or her parents.
· Interrogate the child both concerning his or her wishes and to satisfy the interrogator that the child's education is "suitable."
This approach flies in the face of Article
8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. This Article, protecting the
privacy of both family life and the home, has been made binding on the
There is serious doubt that local authority representatives would be qualified to evaluate the effectiveness of a home education program. There are significant differences in the methods and strategies of successful home education and those employed in institutional schools.
Besides, any form of assessment (including testing and measurement) is generally required to meet four professional standards for accuracy and reliability.
A clear statement of these standards is
found in a publication by the British Council describing certain examinations
for English proficiency:
Validity is the extent to which a test can be shown to produce scores which
are an accurate reflection of the subject tested. Evaluators who have neither
professional expertise nor in-depth study of home education are unqualified to
make valid assessments, for example.
Reliability concerns the extent to which assessors can be depended upon for
making decisions about the candidate. Subjective assessments of children cannot
produce results that have any semblance of national consistency, accuracy, or
Impact concerns the effects, beneficial or otherwise, which an examination has on the candidates or other users, whether these are educational, social, economic or political, or various combinations of these.
The impact on the child must be considered. When a strange adult appears in the home with the announced purpose of questioning the child separately and apart from his or her parents, a considerable degree of anxiety can be anticipated, especially if the child's future depends on the stranger's views of his answers.
Moreover, the long-range impact on the
child's view of a free society is severely damaged. This is a high-stakes
venture with almost no chance of producing results that would survive the other
measures of assessment for validity and reliability.
Practicability can be defined as the extent to which an examination is practicable
in terms of the resources needed to produce and administer it." For one, the
costs for implementing the Badman method of home interrogations would be
Mr. Badman's recommendations for a method of assessment fail all four of the criteria outlined by the British Council.
Mr. Badman's Review into Elective Home Education provides no acceptable basis for change, nor is there ground for widespread alarm concerning the well-being of home educated children. Both Mr. Badman's and the government's recommendations are premature and disproportionate.
We, hope that the Committee will reject the Review, its recommendations and the government's consultation on the basis of the above.