Memorandum submitted by Carolyn Crawshaw

 

Summary

 

The terms of reference of the review suggest that the legal responsibility for educating a child currently lies with the local authority and not with the parent.

 

Moreover the key development that arises from Badman's recommendations is just such a situation; where that legal responsibility is switched from parent to state. Yet this change is neither highlighted nor even identified. It simply arises by default from the recommendations.

 

Badman says there has to be a balance between the rights of the parents and the rights of the child. This incorrectly suggests the two are in opposition and is misleading in its positioning of the parent. It is the parent's legal responsibility to educate the child- it is not a right.

 

The report was conducted too hastily to allow for a proper investigation into the views of home educators. The selective quoting of respondents, the lack of fair representation of comments by home educators and the lack of home education experts on the expert reference group mean that the public consultation was therefore inadequate.

 

The recommendations are, in my opinion, potentially damaging to the outcomes of many home educated children and their families in England.

 

 

1. The conduct of the Review.

 

1.1. As a member of the Hertfordshire group who met Mr Badman during his investigation, I would say that the review was not conducted with fair consideration of the needs and interests of most home educators. The short period of time given to consultation; the narrow range of questioning in the original call for evidence from home educators; the fact that only e-mail responses were taken from home educators and finally my experience of the lack of true dialogue at the Hertfordshire meeting lead me to believe that the desire to impose registration and monitoring was in place before the Review took place and the search was only for evidence to prove the necessity of this and evidence to the contrary was played down or ignored.

1.2. The expert reference group had only one participant with in-depth knowledge of home education -James Conroy. It is not clear whether or not he attended meetings.

 

 

 

2. Nature of the documents

 

2.1. One of the only two quotations chosen from the 3.000 or so responses from home educators is completely unrepresentative of the 100 or so home educating parents that I meet in my day to day activities.

2.2. Quotations from bodies with little knowledge of home education are given in much more detail.

2.3. The response from the Church of England is unrepresentative of their full response.

 

3. Scope of the terms of reference

 

3.1. The terms of reference assume that the current legal position of the parent having responsibility for educating the child has already been changed to a position where the local authorities have primary responsibility. "The review will investigate whether local authorities are providing the right....support to home educating families to ensure they are undertaking their duties to provide a suitable full time education to their children." The language suggests that a local authority needs to be involved to ensure a suitable education. This is not the case for thousands of home educated children who have no local authority input. "Whether any changes to the current regime for monitoring the standard of home education are needed..." The language suggests the local education authority has the responsibility rather than the parent- how else could it determine the standard it wants to monitor. In fact of course the current position is that the parent has responsibility for the education of the child. The local authority may or may not be involved. Where it is involved it is in a supportive/consultative role- but it is not monitoring standards.

 

3.2. The Review focussed only on practice in England. The terms of reference actually said that it should focus on practice in England but may consider relevant material from elsewhere. In 2.1 Badman said that the scope of the review was to be limited to practice in England. This suggests he did not properly follow the terms of reference.

 

3.3. The result was that much relevant and highly regarded research on the very positive outcomes for home educated children from USA and Canada was not analysed. Where Mr Badman claims good results for home educated children may be attributable to parental characteristics research studies of several thousand families show that children from families where parents do not have higher education qualifications out- perform their school going peers significantly -and more than children of parents with higher education qualifications. (ref: The Fraser Institute Survey of Research into Home Education).

 

3.4. The lack of local research does not in itself indicate a need for radical change but rather a need for research in order to ascertain if change need be implemented.

 

4. Recommendations

 

4.1. Recommendation 1: Registration. It is my legal responsibility to educate my child just as it is my responsibility to feed them and otherwise look after their health. I should not need to register this responsibility. If I am fit to care for the child's general well being I am fit to educate them. In effect registration will simply be registration of caring parents for no purpose. Should an unsuitable parent be home educating this will not be discovered by registration and it is highly likely that s/he will fail to register -through ineptitude or criminality.

 

4.2. Recommendation 1: Parent to provide a Statement of educational approach and intent. Such a statement would strike at the heart of the nurturing, child-led education that I think is most appropriate for my children. The successful outcomes of my older children were not always measurable in their younger days. To try to measure their progress against any pre- determined targets would have changed and hampered their personal development. I have had experience of an inspector refusing to believe that my shy elder son could read because he refused to do so for the inspector. At that time, the inspector could not insist, nor make recommendations that targets be met. My sensitive third son would find even kindly interest shown in his attainment by a stranger, very stressful.

 

4.3. Recommendation 1 &8. As an ex teacher and current home educator I can see that whilst the recommendations for monitoring (exhibition of work and statement of intent etc) might be appropriate in a school setting they may be entirely inappropriate in a home ed setting and render certain successful methods of home educating inoperable.

 

4.4. Recommendation 7. No school going child is subjected to the level of scrutiny recommended.

 

4.5. Recommendation 10. The recommendation that LEAs should provide free entry to home educated candidates for GCSEs would be laudable were it not for the caveat that they should have shown their preparedness through routine monitoring. Yet again this demonstrates a prejudice that some home educated children and parents don't deserve funding to sit an exam. Again it demonstrates his lack of understanding of those home educated children and parents who choose to take public exams.

 

 

September 2009