Memorandum submitted by Roy and Jackie Thurley
· The Badman Review was not an impartial review because of the composition of the committee.
· The evidence quoted was selective, and did not give due weight to research indicating greater achievement from home educated children.
· No evidence has been provided that home educated children are more likely to suffer abuse than those in state or private education, although that was seen to be one of the reasons for the review being made.
· The proposal to allow state officials to interview a child in their home without either parent present represents a huge increase of state intervention into personal privacy, and would appear to violate the human rights of both the parents and the child.
1. My wife and I are educating our child at home, and have done so throughout her almost eleven years to date. We are concerned both with the conduct and the conclusions of the Badman Review, and respectfully request that the Committee consider the following points.
2. We are concerned that the "expert committee" which produced the report was unbalanced in its composition, and that the Chairman of it was potentially biased in advance of the conclusions. We understand that there was only one person on the committee who had any personal experience of Home Education, which seems hardly adequate for a committee investigating the subject. With the Chairman coming from a background in Local Government, he could be seen to be biased in favour of state education.
3. Perhaps because of this unbalance on the committee, it would seem that some of the responses from Home Education support groups have not been thoroughly represented, or indeed fairly represented, in the report. Existing regulations have been compared with those which pertain in Europe, but not with those from the USA, where home education is much more popular. This gives the impression that the committee was producing evidence to suit the conclusions it wished to make, rather than drawing conclusions from the available evidence.
4. Concerning the existing regulations, these were not even set out in the report, despite being branded as "unworkable". There was also no evidence provided to support the assertion that the current regulations are unworkable.
5. There is a large amount of evidence in the public domain concerning the outcomes for children who have been home educated. Much of this evidence emanates from the USA, but there is also some from the UK. Almost all of this was completely ignored by the committee, perhaps because the outcomes show in almost all cases that home educated children are better achievers than those who come through the state system.
6. We recognise that there is the potential for child abuse to go undetected in those who are educated at home, but no evidence has been provided to indicate that this is actually a problem. Although statistics were quoted concerning the proportion of home educated children known to social services, this does not indicate that these children were in any way at risk, as there are a whole range of reasons why children could be known. No statistics were provided of the proportion of home educated children amongst those who are recorded as being at risk. Again, was this because the figures do not support the conclusions to which the committee were aiming?
7. Moving on from the conduct of the enquiry to its conclusions, there are a number of points we would wish to make. The first point we have already made above - that the report appears to have been written to support the required conclusion, and is therefore biased.
8. Secondly, the proposals themselves may be unworkable, particularly as they will require substantial new money to be made available to local authorities to implement the recommendations, which may not be possible in a time of financial stringency. As there is very little detail on this aspect in the report, it is difficult to ascertain how workable the recommendations would be. Recommendation 28 of the report states that a costing of the proposals should be carried out within three months. This period expired on 11th September, and I am not aware of the costings having been made public at the date when this submission was made (15th September).
9. We wish to affirm, and would ask the government also to affirm, that it is the absolute right of a parent to choose to educate a child in the way in which he or she wishes. This right is at risk from these proposals because of over-regulation and the invasion of private lives by the state.
10. One recommendation with which we are particularly in disagreement concerns the right of a child to be interviewed in his or her own home by an official of the state without a parent being present. This would confer on the local authority official more rights than those enjoyed by a police officer! It also would result in a substantial shift away from the parent towards the state in regards to the responsibility to raise a child.
We recommend that the government abandon the proposals in the Review, and ensure that all those involved in home education, both individuals and local authorities, are made fully aware of the existing law and how it should be implemented.