Memorandum submitted by Dr Paula Rothermel FRSA, Educational psychologist expert witness


1. I am one of the leading academics in the field in the UK and the only expert witness specialising in court cases where home education is an issue. My 2002 research involved 1099 children and remains the largest and most in-depth and authoritative independent of home education carried out in the UK. The research involved 419 survey questionnaires to families and 238 targeted assessments (with 196 different children) to evaluate the psychosocial and academic development of home-educated children aged eleven years and under.

2. I was invited on two occasions to meet with Mr Badman.

3. At our first interview Mr Badman was interested in what I had to say. His opening question was to ask me if home educating mothers suffered from Munchhausen's by Proxy. I thought this to be a curious starting point - that of questioning whether home education is a symptom of mental illness. I am not medically qualified, but I was able to inform Mr Badman that there is no research evidence available that I am aware of, which makes this link.

4. At our second interview Mr Badman was dismissive of my work. He insisted that my study covered just 30 children. He indicated that someone had told him this and insisted that my conclusions and findings, therefore, were of little significance. Nothing I could say would sway him from this view. He had clearly not informed himself about my work by reading it.

5. I consider the review to be seriously flawed. It should be a matter of concern to the Select Committee that the person commissioned to carry out the review could so easily be influenced by a lay person hostile to my work. I question the rigour applied to the Review.

6. All the tests I conducted were overseen by two senior professors and employed established methods for reliability and validity. Articles published following my research have appeared in peer reviewed journals. My work has thus been judged to be rigorous enough for the wider academic population and I have presented papers on my work to academic and professional audiences in London, Manchester, Edinburgh, Malta, Ghent, Estonia, Geneva and to broader audiences through BBC television and radio news, and many radio interviews. Next week I am presenting a paper in Vienna, and the University of Bogota have invited me to speak there in November.

7. I was not notified of the Select Committee despite having participated in the Review.

8. I have many observations to make regarding Mr Badman's recommendations but the absence of numbers in his bulleted recommendations makes this reference laborious. Overall the recommendations are, in my opinion, complicated, expensive and unworkable.

September 2009