Memorandum submitted by Sarah Conyers
Conduct of the review and related consultations
Recommendations made by the review
- The Badman review contains little argument that is supported by evidence. (para 2.1)
- Evidence has not been used impartially (para 2.2)
- Very little evidence found that home educated children are more at risk of abuse than the rest of the population (paras 2.3 & 2.4)
- There was an absence of expertise in home education on the review panel (para 2.5)
- The recommendations of the review are too heavy handed given the lack of evidence found (paras 2.7 & 2.8)
- Review was poorly conducted (para 2.9)
- Recommendation 7 is an infringement of Article 8 ECHR (para 3.1)
- Recommendation 7 does not treat all children equally as required by ECHR (para 3.1)
2.0 Conduct of the Review
'We have seen
no evidence to show that the majority of home educated children do not achieve
the five Every Child Matters outcomes, and are therefore not convinced of the
need to change the current system of monitoring the standard of home education.
Where there are particular concerns about the children in a (sic) home-educating
this should be a matter for Children's Services.'
Mr Badman has therefore used quotes inappropriately
to justify his own agenda.
2.4.1 Figures obtained under a Freedom of Information request show that the rates of abuse within the Home Ed community are lower than that for all children (.78% for Home Ed and 1.76% for all children). This figure will include all children known to Social Services for reasons such as Special Needs and there is a higher proportion of Special Needs children amongst the Home Ed community. Therefore, this figure of .76% becomes even lower for actual cases of abuse rather than just known to Social Services.
3.0 Problems with the Review's recommendations
3.1 Recommendation 7 - That LA officials be given the right to demand entry into homes and seek to interview the children without their parents.
3.1.1 This is a gross infringement of human rights, Article 8 of the ECHR. The police and Social Services don't have this power without a warrant so how can this power be given to an LA official?
- "That parents be required to allow the child through exhibition or other means to demonstrate both attainment and progress in accord with the statement of intent lodged at the time of registration"
3.1.2 This is not equal with school children. Not all children at school attain and make progress in accordance with the plans at the beginning of the school year.
3.1.3 Mr Badman states that the views of the children must be heard as to whether they wish to be home educated. Are school educated children given a chance to have their say as to whether they wish to be educated at school? ECHR says that everyone must be treated equally, so if all home educated children are to be questioned then all school children must also be questioned (without their parents present)
3.2 Recommendation 1 - Compulsory national registration scheme
"Parents to provide a clear statement of their educational approach, intent and desired/planned outcomes for the child over the next twelve months."
3.2.1 For parents that are using an autonomous approach to home education this simply won't be possible. By it's very nature, autonomous education cannot predict outcomes as what the child learns will change day by day.
"Where a child is removed from a school roll to be home educated, the school must provide to the appropriate officer of the local authority a record of the child's achievements to date and expected achievements,...., together with any other school records"
If it's now the parents responsibility to educate their child, then surely this information should go to them and not the LA.
3.3 Recommendation 2 - What constitutes a suitable education
This recommendation would take away the right to educate children according to your own philosophy, ECHR Article 2.
3.4 Recommendation 10 - That all LA's should offer a menu of support to home educating families.
This recommendation has been ignored by the Secretary of State.
Similarly Recommendation 11 has been ignored.
3.5 Recommendation 12 - Mention of BECTA
More issues here over Mr Badman's impartiality, Mr Badman is on the Board of Directors of BECTA so it's not ethically right for him to recommend in his own interests.
3.6 Paragraph 8.2
"Many home educators argue that press coverage of this review has cast them as "guilty" with a need to prove "innocence" just by virtue of being a home educator. And many have argued for a measured response to prevent "hard cases becoming bad law". In addressing this issue I have tried to answer two fundamental questions:
First if there is abuse of children within the home education community, is it disproportionally (sic) high, relative to the general population?
Second, where abuse does exist, would a change of regulation with regard to elective home education have either prevented or ameliorated such abuse"
Despite saying he will answer these questions, he doesn't actually answer them in his report.
The answers are:
1. No there is no evidence of abuse within the home ed community apart from 3 high profile cases that on investigation have nothing to do with home education
2. A change in regulations would have made no difference in any of these cases. The laws are already in place to protect children where abuse is suspected and it's those laws that aren't working.
He has proved that "many home educators" were correct in their argument that we are being cast as guilty until proved innocent by forcing us to display our children to prove that they aren't being abused.
It maybe that "some" home educators abuse their children, but equally "some" school educating parents abuse their children. Just because "some" do shouldn't mean that we all should be tarred with the same brush and made to prove that we're not.
3.7 Recommendation 23 - "That LA adult services and other agencies be required to inform those charged with monitoring and support of home educators of any properly evidenced concerns that they have of parent's ability to provide a suitable education ...on such grounds as........
- anything else which may affect their ability to provide a suitable and efficient education"
This is a worrying "catch all" phrase which gives LA's carte blanche to decide that for whatever reason they like a parent is not able to provide an education.
3.8 Recommendation 24 - "That the DCSF make such change as is necessary to the legislative framework to enable LA's to refuse registration on safeguarding grounds......."
Mr Badman has said throughout the report that he accepts that parents have the right to home educate and then this recommendation appears at the end suggesting a scheme whereby parents have to seek permission to home educate.
3.9 Recommendation 28 - "That the DCSF and the LGA determine within 3 months how to provide to LA's sufficient resources to secure the recommendations of this report"
Secretary of State has said that there is to be no extra funding. If the
government is now proposing that every family must be visited then this is
certain to increase costs. These recommendations can not be enacted without