Memorandum submitted by Dave Bennett-Jones
I welcome your interest in this matter and applaud the approach that you have taken in relation to the manner in which the Badman review was undertaken. In so doing, you are clearly displaying the characteristics of the Liberal democracy in which we live and flourish - whose principles, in my belief are being undermined by actions undertaken at present.
Our democracy is assured by transparency, adequate checks and balances, the power of the electorate, lest I forget to mention professionalism and non-autocratic tendencies which other countries exhibit daily. These principles are on display within the various educations acts empowering public institutions , NGO's, and parents to seek the educational welfare of their children. It is on these principles that home educating parents cling to, which in turn make our democracy the power house of principle in this world.
I feel somewhat disheartened by the fact that the review goes against this trend and so clearly exhibits a hidden agenda, and certainly no electoral mandate to justify some of the Secretary of States' assertions. I feel as if from the outset the objective has been to monitor the activities of parents who choose to exercise statute empowered rights. Everything that I have found in relation to the draft legislative programme 2009/10 and more specifically the Improving Schools and Safeguarding Children Bills clearly illustrates this intention. It clearly states:
"Improving monitoring arrangements for children educated at home."
It is my opinion that from the outset - and I hope this was not intentional, although by the methods undertaken it has been the result; the plans have antagonised the relationship between Mr. Badman and home educators.
Rather than truly seeking to understand the various methods that are undertaken when home educating, examining the provision of assistance, support and quality of relationships with LA's , and perhaps undertaking measures to mend and improve these relationships, he clearly sought - and was provided a mandate, from the outset to find evidence to support the position that mandatory registration with many ensuring consequences should be pursued. The Secretary of State and Mr. Badman have recently written to LA's asking them within a very short window of time to provide statistics on various home educating trends so as to support this position.
Why is there such intense focus on monitoring and potentially criminalising law abiding, taxpaying, hard working parents? What have we done? We have made a choice to educate our children at home.
The answers to me are clear, the DCSF and Mr. Badman along with a raft of other people do not understand nor want to understand the principles of home educating, and as a result are embarking on a series of actions that will jeopardise the relationship between the two most important groups of peoples in our society, Government and its people.