Memorandum submitted by Ann Samuel Till
I am a long term home educator. A supporter of HERA and have been a member of Education Otherwise for about 18 years. I sent a brief response to Graham Badman's Review of Elective Home Education in England (the review) mainly endorsing the response of HERA. I also played the lead role in all of the Scottish consultations and reviews concerning home education on behalf of Education Otherwise in Scotland (I have home educated in both Scotland and England). I also spent years giving information and support on a home education helpline for parents. I am currently living in England and my child is now beyond the age for compulsory education but I continue to support other home education families.
I share the view expressed by HERA that the conduct of the review and the subsequent report are seriously flawed. The report should be scrapped and the consultation on some of the report's recommendations should be abandoned before any more time or money is spent on it.
My reasons for believing the report to be flawed are adequately expressed by HERA in its response to the select committee and I will not detail them again.
They include in summary:
· A lack of evidence for the recommendations
· A lack of data supporting the urgency exclaimed by ED Balls
· The Report in failing to understand the diverse nature of home education fails also to give proper attention to the situation where the initiative for deregistration comes from the school of a persistent truant rather than being the initiative of the parent for home educating the child.
· I believe that home educating consultees views have been seriously misrepresented
· The report disregards the vast and increasing body of home education research.
· The report does not give weight or due attention to the views of home educators thereby disregarding the many constructive views, comments and suggestions made. Particularly the review does not acknowledge the overwhelming view of home educators and many others (including officers from local authorities) that legislation, processes and measures already exist to ensure adequate safeguarding of children in home education.
· The Review Panel had hardly any EHE expertise.
· The Review questions were designed such that those asked of home educators (being different from those asked of Local authorities) allowed less scope in the answers. They were thus inequitable.
· It is an unfair and wrong imposition on home educators to subject them to these repeated consultations. It is tantamount to state harassment especially given the flawed nature of this review and the distorted result.
· The recommendation that family homes can be entered, children separated from parents and interviewed alone by strangers without just cause for concern is not only gross interference in family life and in itself an abuse of a child's right to be protected by its parent but would constitute an undermining of a fundamental principle of law in this society namely that parents and not the state are responsible for bringing up (and educating) their children and the state only has a duty to intervene should parents fail in those responsibilities or should there be a serious risk of such failure or abuse. The choice of a particular type of education provision is not a ground for safeguarding concern. Mr Badman fails to recognise the constitutional enormity of his recommendation and its relevance to all parents.
· The recommendations as well as being completely unnecessary are probably largely impractical and cost prohibitive. But more significantly with regard to safeguarding are likely to spread the inadequate safeguarding resources so wide as to make it more likely that children at real risk will be missed.
I would further like to make the following additional point:
Should these recommendations be enacted there is a high likelihood of non compliance,
not because the parents of home educated are law breakers but because it is in the nature of all parents to put protection of their young above all else.
The conduct of the review was flawed , the methodology was flawed and the interpretation of the responses and evidence was flawed. This is enough in itself to scrap the review and it's recommendations.
Mr Badman has not understood HE , He has not understood the HE community and he has not understood the legal principles underpinning parenting in British society. I assert that he has actually shown contempt for parents, particularly home educating parents in the way he has conducted this review. Furthermore he has badly misjudged the expertise and wealth of resource in HE parents and children and their resilience to this treatment.