Memorandum submitted by Christina Anne Eastwood

 

 

Summary:

Introduction: area of expertise

When comparing English home education regulations with those of other countries the USA was ignored.

The report used the proportion of home educated children known to social services as a measure of child abuse. The correct measure would be the proportion of children at risk.

The balance of the committee was unrepresentative with only one member having any experience of home education.

The report does not address the issue of funding sufficiently.

Recommendations

 

1. Introduction

 

We have educated our own children at home. After home education our son went to a local school for sixth form where he achieved good A level results and he is now happy working in industry. My daughter never went to school at all and is now starting her second year as an undergraduate reading maths at Aberystwyth University where she is achieving outstanding results (average of 90%) and is very happy. This gives us some understanding of the field of home education. In addition we are involved in an organisation which we helped to set up that provides an exam centre where home educated children can sit highly respected International O level, GCSE, AS level and A level examinations and a home education support group. Our regular contact with the children at the centre and the support group helps us to keep a finger on the pulse of home education and we also have a younger son who is continuing his education at home.

 

2. Evidence from the USA

 

The report mentions home education in Europe and also in Tasmania. It fails to draw on evidence from the USA. Since home education is probably more widespread in the USA than anywhere else in the world this is surprising. A vast area of evidence, expertise and experience has been completely overlooked in the report because of this.

 

3. The measure of child abuse

 

Evidence from LEAs shows that incidence of child abuse in the home educating community is half that in the community in general. This report is therefore proposing a gross misdirection of scarce resources. The report used the proportion of home educated children known to Social Services as its criteria for measuring abuse which is claimed was disproportionately high in some authorities. This figure, however, includes children reported by Education Welfare Officers, children with special needs and many others who are not necessary at risk. The report should have used the proportion of children classified as being at risk.

 

 

4. The balance of the committee

 

On the committee of experts only Professor James Conroy had any expertise in the area of home education. As the report was about home education this seems surprising and has not made for a balanced report.

 

5. Funding

 

Recommendation 28 states that a costing of the reports proposals should be carried out within three months (i.e. by 11th September.) This has not happened and the report itself does not contain enough detail to ascertain whether its proposals are affordable. The only attempt so far at assessing what the reports proposals would cost has come from Home Education Advisory Service which suggests that if implemented as they stand the report's proposals would cost 500 million.[1]

 

6. Recommendations

That the government, rather than proceeding on a costly course of action based on a report that has not looked at all the international evidence and which has used incorrect statistical measures, puts measures in place to enable all LEAs to act in accordance with the Elective Home Education Guidelines (November 2007) which were produced after wide and thorough consultation.

 

September 2009



[1] HEAS Press Release, July 15, 2009