Memorandum submitted by Catholic Home Educators
We as Catholic
Home Educators have grave reservations
as to the basis, drafting, conduct and conclusions of the Badman review - the
way in which, when it failed to meet the criteria for Consultation, it was
speedily changed to a Review; the slandering of home-educating families; the
statistical basis for its evidence and its unquestioned acceptance by the
Minister for Schools, Children and Families. We ask the committee to
investigate why yet another review into Home Education was conducted so
close on the heels of the previous one; whether the assertions made by Graham
Badman in the review, to justify the perceived need for it, have
any basis in hard evidence; whether in fact, there is a problem to address;
whether the measures he proposes to address the alleged problem are
proportionate, and indeed desirable, in a society which values civil liberties;
also, what the financial, administrative and social implications would be of
enacting the proposals.
2. This submission is made on behalf of the signatories in our capacity as
Home-Educators. Between us we have many years of experience in educating
children; some have had experience in mainstream classrooms,
others have successfully educated children from birth until adulthood using
a variety of approaches. We have worked
with other home-educating
families both within our Catholic Home Education Community and with other
families in our localities of all faiths and none.
3. Since time immemorial, it has been families and especially parents who
have had primary responsibility for children, with the State in more recent
years providing a safety net for that small percentage of children whose
parents had been proven to be abusing them. For several years now, however,
there has been an increasingly clear and determined strategy by law and
policy-makers to cause children to spend less and less time with parents and
to rely more and more in the first instance on State employees, such as
health-care workers, social workers and teachers, thus undermining both
authority, and family relationships in general, in the process. Although there
has been a tendency for some while on the part of officialdom to regard
parents with increasing suspicion, the preparation, drafting and
publication of the Badman review and the acceptance of its recommendations
by Ed Balls, marks a watershed in relations between parents and the State.
4. Here was a process which failed to meet the criteria for a Consultation
and so was quickly changed to a Review instead. It was the fourth such
process in four years on the subject of home education. The statistics used
in it are woolly and highly unreliable; the author uses the phrase "I
believe" some 16 times in the report without supporting his assertions with
reliable evidence. Home-educators themselves were not heeded in the course of
the Review; we were both deprived of our right to be heard and of the
information needed to understand the basis for many of the statements made in
the Review (See Appendix 1). Whilst this is not strictly a trial, a public
judgement is being made about us as a group, a judgement upon which legally
binding measures are intended to be made which would have a profound effect
upon us. Badman insinuates that home-educated children are at higher than
average risk of abuse, whereas the evidence shows the contrary, and uses this
slander to justify the introduction of some truly draconian measures. Forcing
entry into family homes and removing children for interview without the consent
or even presence of a parent is bad enough, but to
inflict compulsory registration on all families is in fact even more dramatic;
it runs a coach and horses through the traditional scenario of the State in its
role as provider of schooling, acting under delegated authority from the
parents, in loco parentis. In effect it means that it is the State and not the
parents who become the primary guardians of children and the parents who will
have to satisfy the State of their suitability and on the criteria that the
5. These proposals affect every parent in the country and indeed every
citizen, given that if implemented they will enshrine in law a fundamental
and profound shift in political power away from the citizen to the State. If
implemented, they will deeply affect family life in this country; we as a
society will be losing our right to self-determination at a very fundamental
level and yet no cogent evidence has been produced of a need for any such
drastic action. No attempt has been made to think through the psychological
and social implications of implementing these unjustified, extreme and
ill-conceived proposals; equally little attention has been paid to their
financial and administrative implications. Social services are already
extremely over-stretched and are missing cases of abuse and neglect as a
Interestingly, New Zealand
has recently dismantled its compulsory
monitoring scheme for home-educators, on the grounds that it was both
expensive and unnecessary.
6. We ask the Select Committee to call Graham Badman to account and to
require answers to the following questions:
Why yet another review into Home Education was conducted so close on the heels
of the previous one?
Why were the views of home-educating families given so little weight?
What evidence is there that there was a need for further regulation of
What is the statistical basis of Badman's slanderous assertion that
home-educated children are at greater risk than schooled children? Figures
collected via freedom of information enquiries show that the rate of abuse
in the HE community is actually disproportionately low.
Why are such
skewed and unreliable statistics being used as a basis for the
report? (See Appendix 2).
In particular why were children of
families described as "known to the LA" counted as being at risk,
when the most were known merely because the families had accessed services due
to Special Needs? Why did Badman and the DCSF include figures for disabled
children and false positive
Why did only 60% (i.e. 90) of local authorities respond to the survey sent
out by Badman and why did only 25 reply to the question about home-educated
children known to social care? Why would 72% of the respondents leave blank
the answer to a question if they had any data to report?
Why have the full figures still not been released for public scrutiny?
Why has Lord Adonis not been listened to when he asserted in his report
that;" the party with the keenest personal interest in securing the best
available education for a child ordinarily is, or ought to be, the parent of
assessment has Badman conducted into the risk involved in LA
officials being alone with a child, both to the child of psychological harm
and potentially to the official (given that teachers and other professionals
are instructed never to be alone with a child)?
What consideration has Badman given to Equality & Inclusion, especially
assessment has Badman done of the impact of the implementation of his
proposals on Special Needs children?
7. We also ask that Ed Balls be required to go on record with answers to
the following questions:
Gordon Brown has recently announced the need for a substantial cut in public
services. How will this extra proposed regulation be funded?
Social Services have over the last year become seriously overstretched. Where
will the staff be found to conduct the vast number of routine home visits
which will be required if the proposals are implemented?
Can routine forced entry to people's homes and forced removal of their
children for interview without any grounds for suspecting abuse and without the
presence or even permission of a parent, ever be justified in a country that
likes to think of itself as a democracy?
It is proposed that local authority officers be required to visit and
interview home-educated children who do not wish to see them; will this not
directly contravene the requirement placed on them by section 53 of the
Children Act 2004, to, where reasonably practicable, take into account the
wishes and feelings with regard to the provision of services?
8.There is a great deal of ignorance about home-education and one of the
reasons for this is that so many parents have lost confidence in their own
ability to parent, after years of constant messages that someone else
always knows better about their children than they do. This is a fallacy.
Confident parents, parents given the facts about health and education and
then left to draw their own conclusions, the time to spend with their
children; these are what make for happy well-educated children, whether or
not they are at school. Unless there is clear evidence to the contrary,
parents turn out to be innately competent at helping their own children
learn and grow and they are the ones who are the key players in supporting
healthy child development. Parents can only fulfil this role effectively
when they have the freedom to do the job they are so uniquely qualified to
 Not published. See http://regulatorylaw..co.uk/Disclosure:_Equality_of_arms.html
 Not published. See Letter to Action for Home Education from William
Wallace BSc MSc MPhil FSS AFIMA on http://ahed.pbworks.com/LiesDamnedLiesStatistics#StatisticianComment