Memorandum submitted by Home Educating Parent

 

Summary

Section 1 - Short introduction

Section 2 - Consideration of Badman's approach and selective use of quotation.

Section 3 A consideration of some of the dangers posed by the recommendations.

Section 4 Conclusion.

 

1. introduction.

The responsibility of choosing the method of educating a child, at present lies with the ancient institution of the family, rather than with the less ancient institution of the state. The state education system, is but one of a myriad possible ways of educating a child.

The recommendations in the report, if brought into practice, would give local authorities the power (for various ill considered and ill defined reasons), to bar families from home educating their children. This would constitute a serious change in the balance of power between family and state, effectively giving local authorities the power to take children's education into state control, seriously limiting family choice, impinging upon human rights and possibly leading towards a state of educational monoculture. The recommendations could lead to many children being forced into a state education system, which not only fails the educational needs of many children, but through it's inability to respond to the needs of individual children, or to properly control bullying, causes deep trauma for some.

The repercussions could involve a breakdown of trust between many families and the state.

Great damage could be caused to a system, which at present is working well.

 

2. Some notes on Badman's approach to the review.

While trying to appear unbiased, Badman shows signs of bias throughout the report. This can clearly be seen, for example, in his selective and out of context quotation from the Church of England's submission which can be referenced in section 4.8 .The quotation gives the clear impression, the C of E are in favour of clamping down on home education, whereas he failed to mention, that the church actually concluded their report as follows;-

"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 system of home education. Where there are particular concerns about children who are home-educating, this should be a matter for the Children's Services."

Badman thus totally misrepresents the church's submission, begging the question, can his other selective quotations be trusted to represent the views of their authors, or are they plucked out of context to support his own views?

 

In section 10, Badman professes to have drawn no conclusions on the pros and cons of an autonomous education, then without explanation throws in a quote extracted from primary legislation, which while bearing no relationship to the nature of autonomous education, or apparent understanding of the issues involved, or hard work of autonomously educating parent/ carers, seems to have been added merely to bias opinion against autonomous education, belying his claims to have drawn no conclusions.

 

In section 10.2 Badman dismisses all research into the outcome of home-education saying "I am not convinced", He goes into very little depth about his reasons for doing so, which is a pity as a deeper analysis of the research which is available might have added some quality to the report as well as laying to rest any suspicions he was "not convinced" because the research did not support his personal view.

To keep this response as short as possible, I will leave considerations of Badman's methodology at this point and consider some of the possible if Badman's recommendations are enacted.

 

 

 

3. Some of the possible dangers of implementing Badman's recommendations.

Badman does not clearly state how enhanced LA monitoring can determine the suitability and efficiency of varied education systems. There is a danger that a system will be developed which tries to monitor the education of children using the arbitrary criteria of the state education system. This will impinge upon the rights of the family to choose a child's education.

1. Children who have been traumatised by state education, either through bullying, or by the inability of the system to cater for individual children's particular needs, could be forced back into the system and further traumatised.

2. Local authorities will be saddled new difficult, ill defined and expensive responsibilities, diverting funds from areas of real need. In the past, LAs, heave been very inconsistent in their application of government guidelines on home education, some getting on well with home educators, while others use arbitrary threats to harass something they don't understand, causing great distress for some families. There is very little chance of changing this kind of inconsistency.

3. Recommendation 23 dangerously entangles matters of child welfare (which are already well legislated for), with matters of education. It could lead to home educating families having far more state interference in their lives simply because of the educational choices they make for their children. The part seeking information on "anything else which may effect ability to provide a suitable and efficient education " is very vague and open in it's meaning, and could effectively lead to some LAs spying on families in order to provide spurious reasons to deny them their right to educational choice.

4. recommendation 24. appears to call for very serious changes of primary legislation which could, for instance interfere remove a parent's very important right to choose the education for their child because of very ill defined "safeguarding grounds." If these refer to a child's physical safety, then legislation already exists for children's services intervention. If it refers to the vague idea of educational safety (Badman doesn't say),then legislation could potentially give LAs the power to take away the educational rights of successful home educating parents, because the LA doesn't understand or chooses not to accept their educational system. Badman's lack of clarity in calling for these serious law changes is disturbing.

5. Recommendation 15 in seeking to bar schools and LAs from recommending home education even if they see fit to do so. This amounts almost to a kind of censorship of schools and LAs. At present some LAs, for instance, introduce families of school-excluded children to home education networks, which can provide them with much needed support and help prevent them becoming isolated. Why should such helpful initiatives be barred?

 

4. Conclusion.

 

Throughout the review Badman uses selective quotation to back his own point of view.

He makes recommendations without clearly envisaging the practicalities of implementation or the consequences of their implementation. The review lacks credible hard factual evidence and analysis. It is a small irony to point out that in selectively picking countries with less liberal systems in an attempt to support his own contentions during his conclusion, the first legislation he quotes is that passed in Germany during the 1930's during the rise of Fascism.

 

September 2009