Memorandum submitted by Derry Hannam
1. The overall tone of the Badman Review and the subsequent Report appear to operate from the presumption that there are significant numbers of home educators who are using the option as a cover to enable some form of harm to or abuse of their children to occur.
No firm evidence existed prior to the review that this was the case and little seems to have been provided to the review team that would support this view and justify the Report's recommendations.
The fact that Mr Badman is currently seeking further evidence supports this view. In a telephone conversation with Lisa White of the DCFS I learned that the initial evidence lacked 'quality assurance.' Such evidence should not be used to justify major changes to the law affecting home education in that the state is now proposing to take final responsibility for providing 'efficient and suitable' education away from parents.
It was inappropriate and overhasty for the minister to accept the Report's recommendations immediately and in full in the light of this lack of 'quality assurance' with regard to the evidence and statistics on which they were based.
2. The Report is written in a way that reveals bias against home education and fails to give due regard to the educational philosophy of many home educators..
Although some 1300 home educating adults responded to the review only two are quoted in the report. The first, opposed to further local authority involvement, appears to have been selected to portray home educators as arrogant and unreasonable: ' no-one from the LA would in my opinion be on my child's intellectual level...'. The Report omits to mention that this child happens to be prodigiously gifted in science. The second parental quote, which the report describes as 'more measured' is content to have more LA involvement. A GCSE media studies student would be able to spot what is at work here namely that it is 'arrogant' to resist LA involvement and 'measured' to accept it. The conclusion is thus portrayed in the evidence.
Although some 200 home educated children submitted evidence to the Review it appears to have been completely ignored in the Report. It is to be hoped that the select committee will attempt to remedy this by-passing of Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child by interviewing representatives from the articulate Home Educate Youth Council (HEYC) as part of its enquiry. (www.heyc.org )
A similarly manipulative process is at work in the selective quotation from the much longer Church of England submission which appears to be endorsing the Report's conclusions whereas when the full submission is read it can be seen that the opposite is the case. The Church of England in fact sees no need to change the current arrangements for home education and does not support registration, prescription over what is to be learned nor inspection to 'test' that it has been learned.
The Report dismisses the philosophy of education of many home educators without any reasoned or balanced discussion that would justify so doing.
It is well understood by Mr Badman and presumably by the minister that the requirement for an annual declaration of intended curriculum for the forthcoming year effectively rules out the personalised and interest driven approach adopted by many home educators. Mr Badman may be 'minded' to reject arguments for 'autonomous' learning but unreasoned expression of his personal opinion should not be allowed to support recommendations that will have a major effect on a dedicated body of home educators. My own grandchildren are using this approach and it has led to the eldest, aged 6, recently observing that Terns are not the same as Seagulls, that they fly and fish in different ways despite their physical similarities, that some 'regurgitate' for their young and that terns 'migrate.' He is now interviewing local birdwatchers and ornithologists to discover more about the science of the study of bird migration. He is beginning to ask questions about human migration and why it occurs. If he was bogged down with SATs in an infant school I can assure the committee as an experienced inspector that it is unlikely that his interests and vocabulary would not be expanding at the rate that they are. His literacy and numeracy are emerging from the counting and reading that he is doing in the light of his observing and hypothesising (scientific method.) He has gone on to involve a mixed age group of home educated friends in his project. If Mr Badman is rejecting this approach to learning supported by no evidence whatsoever it is to be utterly deplored. It would be ignorance parading as expertise. An unworthy basis upon which to build a framework of life changing recommendations for home educators, many of whom make great sacrifices of time and money to demonstrate their care for their children. It is just outrageous to suggest that they are 'guilty until they prove themselves to be innocent.'
N.B The select committee will be very pressed for time and I do not consider myself to be sufficiently expert in the field of elective home education to offer myself for interview. However I would be very willing to do so should the committee wish me to.