Memorandum submitted by the Home Educated Youth Council


● Introduction to the Home Educated Youth Council

● Analysis of children's responses to the review, and the effect of children's views on the report

● Conduct of the review

● Every Child Matters, and its place in home education

● Analysis and commentary on selected recommendations of the report

● Conclusion

● References

1 - Introduction

1.1 The Home Educated Youth Council (HEYC) is a group formed in response to the Badman Report, by home educated children and young people who feel their voices haven't been heard, and their opinions ignored. HEYC is an organisation entirely run by children and young people under 25, with the average age sitting at around 16 years.

1.2 Currently, HEYC is focusing on responding to the Badman Report and the resulting consultation Home Education - Registration and Monitoring Proposals, as the views of children in these matters are vitally important, and don't appear to have been taken into account thus far, despite the claim that the review is trying to balance the rights of parents and of children.

2 - Responses of children to the review questionnaire

2.1 The data used here was acquired in a Freedom of Information request.1 

Q1: 88.5% of children thought the current system for safeguarding children at home is adequate. 2.6% thought it wasn't, and 8.9% were unsure. 9.5% of this question's respondents were EHE2 children.

Q2: 96.0% thought EHE children could achieve the 5 Every Child Matters outcomes. Broken down: 99.0% thought EHE children could be healthy, 98.5% thought EHE children could stay safe, 97.5% thought EHE children could enjoy and achieve, 96.4% thought EHE children could "make a positive contribution" (though 12.5% were confused as to whence the contribution was directed), and 87.4% thought EHE children could achieve economic well-being. Only 0.6% of children thought EHE children couldn't achieve these, and 3.4% were unsure. 9.6% of this question's respondents were EHE children.

Q3: 15.5% thought government and local authorities had an obligation to ensure that all children in the country achieve the ECM outcomes, 73.1% didn't, and 11.4% were unsure. 9.7% of this question's respondents were EHE children.

Q4: 43.0% thought changes should be made to the current system for supporting EHE families, 40.9% thought there should be no changes, and 16.1% were unsure. 51.7% of comments either stated no support was provided, or didn't want anything material from the government. 9.3% of this question's respondents were EHE children.

Q5: 16.5% thought changes should be made to current monitoring arrangements, 72.3% thought no changes should be made, and 11.2% were unsure. 40.5% of comments stated that no monitoring at all was necessary, while only 3.2% suggested stricter monitoring in the form of registration or checks against 96.8% who felt no more monitoring was needed. 9.4% of this question's respondents were EHE children.

Q6: Only 3 children made comments suggesting monitoring should be made more regular or any similar proposals, with all other comments - 98.6% of the 219 comments - either questioning the concerns of abuse being connected to EHE, stating current arrangements were adequate, or other comments proposing non-invasive measures.

2.2 This does not support the belief held by Graham Badman that there is an "imbalance" between the rights of the parent and of the child (itself a misleading idea - in law parents have a duty to educate as they feel is best, not a right to do as they like3 4) since EHE children clearly feel they can achieve all the ECM outcomes and need no more monitoring, feeling the current system is adequate. Some would like to see an increase in support for EHE families.

2.3 The views of children don't appear to have been taken into account in this review at all, which brings into question the report's supposed aim of supporting children's rights. It seems only the 'right' views of children end up being taken into account; the 'right' views being the views of the government. This breach of s.12 of UNCRC5 calls into question the validity of everything in this review, as it is clearly written with an ulterior motive than protecting children's rights.

3 - Conduct of the review

3.1 There is evidence the data the review was based on was insufficient, and partially selected. In a letter to local authorities6, Graham Badman as good as admits the review was based on insufficient evidence, and that the result was predetermined by his own opinions and focus bias. It seems to us Mr. Badman decided the outcome of the review when he was commissioned to undertake it.

3.2 This is not how a report should be made, and we object strongly to this behaviour. All evidence Graham Badman intended to use to support his report should have been collected before its completion. In his letter Mr. Badman still only requests additional information that will support his conclusions that home education can put children at risk, rather than looking to find the truth of the matter. There is already proof against these prejudices78. We don't think EHE children are absolutely safe from abuse, but it's easy to see they are at less risk than most children.

3.3 We object strongly to the use of UNCRC article 12 in paragraph 3.3 of the Report. This paragraph states "under the current legislation and guidance, local authorities have no right of access to the child to determine or ascertain such views." This is in no way a fact, it is a misinformed statement, if not an outright lie. The very existence of this letter, and the existence of the Home Educated Youth Council can be considered proof EHE children have numerous opportunities to express themselves, and don't need LA inspectors to ascertain, or even possibly interpret their opinions. Furthermore, the LA has no right to hear those views - it is up to the child to express them to whomsoever they wish.

3.4 Within the questionnaire for local authorities lies a query about the "characteristics" of their EHE population.9 It specifically singles out SEN children, Gypsy, Roma, Traveller and BME. This is highly reminiscent of the 2007 EHE guidelines consultation, in which a paragraph was included which singled out Gypsy/Roma/Travellers as being unable to provide a good education.10 After an outcry, it was removed from the final version of the guidelines.11 If "characteristics" include race, then a standard list of ethnicities should have been used.12 

4 - Every Child Matters

4.1 ECM shouldn't have been used as a basis for this report, as it is irrelevant to EHE families. The aim of ECM is to "give all children the support they need to: be healthy; stay safe; enjoy and achieve; make a positive contribution; achieve economic well-being". 'Support' is a word implying choice on the child's part, so the fact the review's terms of reference use the word 'ensure' therefore goes against the entire ECM ethos.

4.2 The Children Act 200413 forms the basis of ECM. It doesn't at all imply that children be forced to achieve these outcomes; it's clearly meant for children's services authorities, and those they work with. For this reason, ECM shouldn't have been mentioned in the terms of reference as something to be "ensured".

5 - Recommendations of the report

5.1 Many of the recommendations of the report are outrageous, and are in direct conflict with our rights as children and people.

5.2 The report is plagued with problems, and in principle we oppose all of these recommendations. We cannot cover them entirely, due to lack of space.

5.3 Recommendation 1

5.3.1 Recommends annual registration. Parents have a right and a duty, in law, to provide their children with a suitable education14. Parents have the right to choose to educate in a way that isn't monitored or supported by the government, as allowed by section 7 of the Education Act and article 2 of the ECHR15.

5.3.2 Further to this, HEYC challenges the term 'registration'. This recommendation suggests every year, parents who wish to home educate should have to fill in paperwork, giving personal details and a 'statement of... educational approach, intent and desired/planned outcomes for the child over the following twelve months'. Then, would be monitored, and judged against their plan. If they succeed, they may repeat the process next year; if not, they won't be allowed to re-register. The consultation following the report suggests failure to register when home educating be a criminal offence, so parents who aren't allowed to register won't be able to home educate.

5.3.3 This isn't registration, it is licensing. Therefore, home education is being made illegal without a license from the government, and it is a lie that the government respects the right of parents to home educate, and has no plans to change that position. The right and duty of parents to home educate if they feel it is the best option for their child, has been utterly disrespected by this review, and it is disgraceful that the government should try to suggest otherwise.

5.3.4 Historically and biologically, the natural environment of a child's education is at home. This is a fundamental truth that cannot be changed by any legislation or regime. Even children who go to school learn in their homes, after school hours. Home education is the default of humanity, and it cannot be licensed, repressed, or stopped. Clearly the government doesn't understand this basic principle of childhood, and therefore are unqualified to make recommendations in this area.

5.3.5 We challenge requiring the parent/carer to provide a "statement of educational approach" for the year. Educational approaches vary over time, the parent cannot be expected to know how they will be providing a child's education at any point in the future.

5.4 Recommendation 2

5.4.1 This seems to assume a curriculum is necessary to learn, and recommends one should be imposed on home educators, many of whom are not in the school system so they can avoid curricula. A 'broad and balanced' curriculum may directly contravene section 7 of the Education Act 1996, as children are not disposed to have 'broad and balanced' aptitudes and abilities, making it both illegal and immoral for parents to force a child to follow a set curriculum. This goes against the entire ideology of home education.

5.4.2 An American study16, shows in general home educators achieve more academically than children who go to school, even though less money is spent on their mostly non-curricular education. Since EHE doesn't appear to differ hugely in approach in the UK to the USA, this study can be assumed valid for EHE children in this country. No review needs to be carried out to find the definition of a "suitable" and "efficient" education; section 7 of the Education Act 1996 states the legal definition of a suitable education, and as Graham Badman pointed out in his report, an efficient education has been defined in case law as one that "achieves that which it sets out to achieve."

5.5 Recommendation 7

5.5.1 This recommendation suggests LA inspectors be given the right to speak with children alone, to see if they are safe, that this recommendation be linked to Recommendation 1, and "That parents be required to allow the child through exhibition or other means to demonstrate both attainment and progress..."

5.5.2 This latter point is unreasonable, as a child has no duty to learn anything, only the parent to provide an education, and therefore this wouldn't give an accurate assessment of educational provision. A child may not wish to demonstrate their attainment and progress, which would clearly make an inspection futile. Considering the attitude of the government towards home education, it seems inevitable this power would be abused.

5.5.3 We are doubtful that being alone with children would allow inspectors to accurately determine whether a child is being abused, especially if it is a non-social situation - something that cannot be legislated. It directly clashes with the UNCRC Article 1617, in that it would be arbitrary. If the child refused to go, or to speak with the inspector, the power would become almost meaningless. If, to prevent this, inspectors were given the power to force a child to accompany them, or to demand they answer questions, it would be a gross violation of that child's rights, and can eminently be challenged in a court of law.

5.5.4 In no other situation can anyone enter a private residence, when the occupier isn't suspected of having committed a crime, and EHE is known to be perfectly legal18. This is because in the UK there is a presumption of innocence. To allow inspection without suspicion is to turn this principle on its head, or to consider EHE an inherently suspicious practice, which it is not.

5.6 Recommendation 9

5.6.1 For the most part, this is a reasonable recommendation. If home educators are monitored at all, it is vital that those who monitor them are trained suitably, though we don't think that mandatory monitoring is acceptable or desirable.

5.6.2 The main problem is where Mr. Badman suggests a few of the recommendations be considered and acted on more quickly than the others, including recommendation 7, but not this one. It would be unacceptable and downright idiotic to allow people to inspect, and make essential judgments on the suitability of home education, when they are untrained in the methods used.

5.7 Recommendation 15

5.7.1 The logic behind this recommendation is to ensure schools don't simply persuade parents to remove 'problem' children to avoid the hassle and cost of permanent exclusion. However, it also stops schools and LAs even mentioning EHE (for fear that be seen as 'advice'), even in situations where it might greatly benefit the child.

5.7.2 Parents aren't so easily swayed as to remove a child from school when they don't want to, even with advice, but in the case of a parent wanting an alternative to the school system for an unhappy child, not knowing about EHE could lead to the child remaining in a detrimental situation. EHE should be known to parents as an equal option.

5.8 Recommendation 23

5.8.1 This recommendation is clearly unreasonable. Almost anything could be construed as affecting parents' ability to provide a suitable education, from divorce to a broken leg to job redundancy. To require all authorities who deal with home educating adults to inform the LA of any 'properly evidenced concerns' they have about the parent's ability to provide a suitable and efficient education is asking the impossible. For one thing, how will such authorities find out that the parent is home educating? If they don't know the educational philosophy of the parent, how can they tell what would affect the suitability of the education?

5.8.2 This is very poorly thought through, impossible to implement properly, and far too easy a power to abuse.

5.9 Recommendation 24

5.9.1 This is preposterous. To declare a household unfit to look after a child during school hours, but not at any other time, is illogical. If there are child protection issues, they should be followed through with Social Services. If there are not, there is no reason not to home educate.

5.9.2 The argument that a child in school is safer than a child who is educated at home because they would be 'seen' is outrageous. We have evidence19 that proves the abuse rate of home educated children is disproportionately low, as compared to the abuse rate of children in the UK. The argument that a child in school is 'seen' more is irrelevant here, because the abuse has already been noticed.  This recommendation suggests where abuse is found, the child should be forced into school, but this wouldn't solve any problems with abuse that would prompt an authority to act on this recommendation.

5.9.3 The power to revoke registration due to 'concerns' is far too open-ended. A malicious, anonymous phone call could be enough to raise 'concerns', and would require no actual evidence to be found. As explained above, there is no reason to send a child to school either way, especially until evidence has been found, as any authority acting on this recommendation could consider the problem solved once the child concerned was entered into the school leaving much more opportunity for abuse. This recommendation is illogical, suggesting an action that wouldn't solve a unique and redundant problem.

6 Conclusion

6.1 HEYC considers this review to have a faulty base; a biased, prejudiced, and poorly structured argument; and a set of ridiculous, illogical, immoral, and unworkable recommendations. We would like to see further inquiry into any possible secondary motives behind the conception and creation of the report.

September 2009



1 Bell, Josephine. (2009). Responses to the Consultation - Statistics. Available: Last accessed 20 September 2009.

2 Electively Home Educated/Educating

3 Department for Children, Schools and Families. 2009. Report to the Secretary of State on the Review of Elective Home Education in England. Graham Badman. London: TSO

4 Education Act 1996, Section 7. London: HMSO

5 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child

6 White, Lisa. (2009). Elective Home Education (EHE) review - request for supplementary data. Available: Last accessed 21 September 2009.

7 Ray, Brian D.. (2009). The Progress Report 2009. Available: Last accessed 21 September 2009.

8 Daley, L. (2009). Abuse in Elective Home Education. Available: Last accessed 21 September 2009.

9 (Page 60, Question 6) Department for Children, Schools and Families. 2009. Report to the Secretary of State on the Review of Elective Home Education in England. Graham Badman. London: TSO

10 (Paragraph 3.4) Department for Education and Skills. (2007). Elective Home Education Guidelines (Draft). Available: Last accessed 21 September 2009.

11 Department for Education and Skills. (2007). Consultation on Home Education Guidelines - Results. Available: Last accessed 21 September 2009.

12 Department for Children, Schools and Families. (2006). Final Key List of extended Ethnic Groups. Available: Last accessed 21 September 2009.

13 Children Act 2004, Section 10, parts 1 and 2. London: HMSO

14 Education Act 1996, Section 7. London: HMSO

15 Human Rights Act 1998, Schedule 1, Part II. London: HMSO

16 Ray, Brian D.. (2009). The Progress Report 2009. Available: Last accessed 21 September 2009.

17 United Nations (1989). Convention on the Rights of the Child. Available: Last accessed 21 September 2009.

18 Education Act 1996, Section 7. London: HMSO

19 Daley, L. (2009). Abuse in Elective Home Education. Available: Last accessed 21 September 2009.