Memorandum submitted by RW Somerville,
I am a businessman, a director of several companies.
My wife is a solicitor but is now a full time mother.
I have had a lifelong interest in home education, was a voluntary children's sports coach for two decades and now help my wife home educate our two children who are aged 9 and 6, (both of whom love it.)
We are very concerned about what the "Badman" report into EHE which we consider to be misconceived and deeply flawed.
1) It is inefficient and a distraction . It and the (Contactpoint/ Girfec proposals) will produce such a mountain of bureaucracy , form filling and box ticking that resources will be drained from the areas where they are needed. Front line health visitors will have LESS time to target the cases that they know they should be concentrating on. This argument is magnified by the real money public sector cuts that must come.
2) The data itself did not support the assertions. Whatever was Mr Badman doing here? FOI requests by AH-ED produced data refuting the assertions, see:
Mr Badman has had to scrabble around desperately seeking some proper data.
3) It makes a mockery of civil liberties. "The Badman review proposes that local authorities should have the right to enter the home and interview children without the parents being present. It's remarkable that there has been so little outcry over this trampling of a fundamental civil liberty - namely the right not to have the state search your premises without a warrant. It's notable that someone convicted of a crime who has served their sentence cannot have their home entered by officers of the state unless a warrant is obtained. Yet here we are proposing that people who have not been convicted of anything, and are not even suspected of anything, can have their privacy invaded just because someone in a local authority feels like it".
That Mr Badman should recommend such a thing is significant in itself. It demonstrates that he does not a broad view of the law, the constitution and the rights of citizens. He is not of sufficient calibre to have authored this report. He is a specialist educationalist and out of his depth.
4) Hard cases produce bad law, the legislation is of the "knee jerk" kind.
David Spiegelhalter, (Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk at the University of Cambridge) wrote this:
"Perhaps the greatest danger of overreaction, though, happens when a government feels it must respond to popular clamour after a high-profile event involving an innocent or vulnerable victim. When a baby is killed, or there is a murder by someone identified as mentally ill or someone on probation, people are reasonably shocked and feel that "something must be done" to prevent such things happening again.
Why do they think that extra bureaucracy will help? While the causes of individual tragedies may be apparent, this does not mean that similar events can be easily prevented in future. That's because they are essentially unpredictable: the underlying problem is that the most shocking "bad" things happen to, or are done by, people deemed to be low-risk, and so attempts to prevent all "bad" things often have a high cost for little apparent gain. This idea is probably best explained through an example.
Let's consider what are officially termed "serious further offences" (SFOs) in the UK. Suppose 1 in 1600 of the total number of people on probation commits such an offence, but that some are more likely to offend than others. These high-risk people offend at three times the rate of the low-risk. Suppose 7.5 per cent of probationers are classified as high-risk. If you locked them all up, what might be the consequences? It is counter-intuitive, but you would make very little impact, and all for considerable cost and loss of liberty.
How so? Imagine you had 8000 people on probation. Of these, 600 (7.5 per cent) are high-risk, and 1 of them commits an SFO. The other 7400 are low-risk - only one-third as likely to commit an SFO - and 4 of these offend. Overall, by locking up all high-risk cases you will prevent only 1 out of the total of 5 offences: 80 per cent of the SFOs will still occur. So what appears to be a reasonable policy could be an overreaction."
which can be found at :
5) There has no account been taken of the disproportionality of the proposed legislation and the inevitable harm and false positives it will produce by making the unwarranted assumption that all home educators are potential child abusers. And this has a civil liberties impact because if HEdders are thought of as such , then by logical extension so are the parents of under fives and parents "in the school holidays" , both of whom are out of the beady eye of the state educational inspectorate.
Prof James Conroy, Dean of Faculty of Education, University of Glasgow said, "You're starting with the premise that some parents might be home-schooling as cover for abuse and exploitation. But you could state the same premise with any residential school in the country. There are all kinds of abuses taking place in regular schooling. Does that mean we should do away with residential schools? Absolutely not."
6) It is hypocritical. Mr. Badman, a career "educational expert" argues that home education must be "efficient", his term; studiously ignoring the woeful "inefficiency" of education in the school sector. 11 years x 40 weeks x 25 hours... eleven thousand hours.... and how many children leave school with no meaningful "qualifications"? Criticisms which are hurled by Labour and Tories when in opposition... and desperately rebutted when in power.
7) It is Statist, Many, but not all, HE'dders think that the whole institution of school is broken and has been broken in most industrial societies for a hundred years. How are people like that, letting their children educate themselves, (because they do!); perhaps with no set curricula at all, going to meet the targets and "outcomes" set for their children by zealous school inspectors and ex teachers, fearful and distrusting of something which bears within it a scathing critique of everything they have done for most of their lives?
8) I don't think the report was truly independent. It was accepted by Mr. Balls the day after it was submitted; who in a slip of the tongue has already knighted Mr. Badman! at:
"Ed Balls: I welcome my hon. Friend's support. The fact is that that local authority performs well in many ways, but we need to address some worrying issues to do with the national challenge and underperforming schools. I have asked Sir Graham Badman to produce a report "
I respectfully request that the Select Committee ask Mr. Balls to "unaccept" it.
9) Sadly , evidence has come to light that Mr. Badman is seemingly not afraid to flout the law on education and to seemingly recommend that others do so to. See:
"<Graham Badman:> When you have a strong partnership between schools, authorities should not be afraid to use their powers of direction. We can direct admissions where there are special educational needs or looked-after children, and I do. That applies to Academies as well.
Q179 <Paul Holmes:> Surely you cannot direct admissions to Academies. You can ask them to take the children; you cannot direct them.
<Graham Badman:> Under the new code, they would find it very hard to refuse the admission of a looked-after child, for example.
Q180 <Paul Holmes:> None the less, even under the new code, you cannot direct Academies. You can ask but not direct, whereas you can direct mainstream schools.
<Graham Badman:> Well, please do not tell them in that case."
This might be a matter that some apologists might seek to excuse; but in light of the fact that Mr. Badman has just written to LA's,saying, "I would like to strengthen my statistical evidence in advance of the select committee hearing so that it is more extensive and statistically robust", how are Home Educators to know that Mr Badman is not whispering in Education Directors' ears? After all, he has previously said, in front of a Select Committee that the ends,
"Achieving desired SEN ratios in Academies", justify the means, "Lying to principals of Academies."
I entreat the Select Committee to reject The Badman Report.
RW & F Somerville
"The Road Not Taken", by Robert Frost, (who was home educated).
 Not published.