Memorandum submitted by John and Maureen Knecht
We have been home educating our daughter for 3 years and to begin with educated more formally but as time has elapsed we have become more autonomous, which works extremely well.
Along with the undersigned we would like to make the following submission to the Committee, regarding the Badman Review. There are many serious issues with this Review but we are submitting responses to just three.
q The Review was requested because of concern that home education could be used as a cover for child abuse, child trafficking, domestic servitude, and forced marriage. However, Mr Badman states in his review "I can find no evidence that elective home education is a particular factor in removal of children to forced marriage, servitude, trafficking or for inappropriate abusive activities." If the aim of the review was really to establish whether home education is a factor in such abuse and no evidence was found, then there is no need for any of these recommendations. At the very least, they are disproportionate.
q The whole tone of the Review conveys of a lack of trust for parents, is offensive and without grounds or evidence.
q These new proposals will give LA officials the powers to force children back into school if education provided does not conform to the narrow views held by some officials. Testing of children against annual plans will also lead to stress, especially for those children who were withdrawn from school because of bullying and special educational needs (SEN) being unmet .
q If Mr Badman is now seeking new
evidence this must surely point to a flawed collection of evidence in the first
1. The implementation of the
recommendations would not stop the (suspected but not proven) abuse. A
case which is quoted to support the allegations of abuse would be one such as
Mrs Spry, (who was also a Jehovah's Witness and a single parent but I haven't
heard of any call for the Jehovah's Witnesses or single parents to be
monitored and regulated.)
2. The DSCF know that this
case was not about EHE but about the failure of Social Services in
Gloucestershire to provide adequate services in this case. It is
documented that the commission of Social Care Inspection concluded that this
was the most significant factor rather than the fact that they were home
3. LA's have enough powers to take action if they are worried about a child's welfare under the 1989 (10)and 2004 Children Acts (11). If they have educational concerns, they can take action under the 1996 Education Act s437 (7). The need then is to provide further training to LA staff in using the legal powers that they have well.
4. Statistics independently collated from the LA submissions gained under the FOI Act shows that the EHE population has less than 1/2 (and possibly nearer a 1/3) of the rate of abuse of the general population. This can be viewed here:
6. Nursery worker, Vanessa George who was arrested for child abuse in Little Ted's nursery is an example of people who are intent on child abuse and will do it anyway. She will have been vetted, CRB checked and references taken. She was with other adults in the nursery and the child was 'seen'. She knew the consequences of her actions - but that did not stop her. Therefore the likelihood is that an abuser wanting to hide a child would not register anyway because of their disregard for the law.
7. The tone of review is lack of trust for parents to do the best for their children both in education and in ensuring health and happiness. In the Review it states that school "brings trusted eyes to bear". This by implication suggests that in home educating families there are no trusted eyes and that at school children are seen and protected.
8. However, home educated children and families in our area have many groups they attend. They come into contact with many adults and are probably more likely to be seen by 'trusted eyes' than school children.
9. In South West Surrey we have many clubs which include; climbing, at least two art classes, youth group, science, drama, reading clubs, history club, Spanish, French, swimming, Farnham and Godalming groups, and a very popular ice skating session once a week. Many of the groups are full and have waiting lists. So EHE children are far from 'hidden' as suggested in the review.
10. The review report states the school brings "trusted eyes to bear". However the figures for bullying, truancy and children leaving school unable to read properly are staggering, which indicates that schools do not always care for children as they should.
11. More than 360,000 children are injured in schools each year:
12. In 2007 450,000 children reported being bullied in school each week.
13. "More than one in five children will turn to suicide as a way out of being severely bullied", writes Debbie Andalo." It is an image that MPs highlighted in their report into bullying in school published in March 2007. The high incidence of bullying is also substantiated by figures from the child support charity ChildLine, which said it received 37,000 calls from young people who were bullied between 2005 and 2006 - a 12% rise compared with the previous year.
14. At least 16 children commit suicide each year as a result of school bullying. Neil Marr and Tim Field's book Bullycide: death at playtime, reveals the hidden epidemic of suicide caused by bullying and harassment.
15. An estimated 1 million children truant every year Government figures, reported in the guardian.
16. Official results for Key Stage 2 in 2009 http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/rsgateway/DB/SFR/s000865/index.shtml shows 4 in 10 children leaving school unable to read, write and add up properly.
17. Parents have a duty to provide a suitable and efficient education in school or otherwise. This review proposes enforcing an education according to the LA's opinion. Parents know their child best and this shift of responsibility to LAs would then mean that the LA could be legally responsible for the education and could be sued if the education provided was not satisfactory.
18. The European Convention on Human Rights Protocol 1 Article 2 states "In the exercise of any functions which it assumes in relation to education and to teaching, the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching in conformity with their own religions and philosophical convictions." Having to comply with LA's beliefs and philosophies would be against the Convention.
19. The cost of training LA staff in 'safeguarding' and, the additional staff that would be required to administer this monitoring has not been addressed. Baroness Morgan has stated that there would be no additional financial burden placed on LA's due to the Badman recommendations, so presumably no staff training would be forthcoming.
20. In autonomous and partly autonomous learning the child follows his own interest and goes at his own speed. He may take a whole year learning about a particular subject that interests and excites him. In stark contrast at school, SATs testing is too often the goal rather than providing a 'suitable' education for the individual child. In secondary school the young people are forced to learn up to ten or twelve subjects, many of them subjects in which they have no interest. This creates bored children who cause disruption in school, many of which will be in the figures of truancy, bullying etc. quoted above.
21. Mr Badman is now asking for more evidence,
surely this shows the Review evidence was flawed.
 CAPT, (Child Accident Prevention Trust) report, 2007 states, "more than 360,000 children were injured in school"