Memorandum submitted by Tina Robbins

 

 

1. No compelling evidence for change

2. Extended Timescale for GB

3. Cost Effectiveness

4. Relationships between home educators and LAs

5. Suitable Education

6. Legal problems

7. Safeguarding children

8. Suitability of Graham Badman & Credibility of Review

 

Below is a very brief summary of some points I would like considered as part of the EHE inquiry. I know that other home educators will be responding in more detail so due to time constraints I will be brief.

 

Abbreviations: EHE - Elective Home Education, GB - Graham Badman

LA - Local Authority

 

1. No compelling evidence for change

GB's Review of EHE found no compelling evidence of abuse within the EHE community. He stated:

8.14 With regard to other specific groups within the remit of this inquiry I can find no evidence that elective home education is a particular factor in the removal of children to forced marriage, servitude or trafficking or for inappropriate abusive activities.

Therefore the Recommendations should be dismissed and the consultation process halted.

There was no compelling evidence to warrant the Review initially and so tax payers money has already been wasted and EHE families harassed by yet another 'inquiry' into their lives.

GB has failed to prove that current legislation isn't satisfactory. In fact when used properly, it is.

He has also failed to produce Recommendations that are proportionate as his claims for more monitoring/regulating have not been substantiate by evidence and are only his subjective opinions.

8.12 GB admits there are only "a small number of serious case reviews where home education was a feature" and has not demonstrated that a change of regulation would have either prevented these cases.

GB attempted to answer two questions via this Review. The first question was whether abuse within the HE community was disproportionately high. The answer was no. The other question was where abuse exists could change have prevented it or ameliorated it. Again the answer to that question is no. GB still goes on to state that 'seeing' children would protect them. This is a false belief. Truly abused/vulnerable children often attend school and/or are 'seen' by social services and are still killed/injured/damaged. Children being 'seen' does not protect them, there is no evidence to suggest this. GB did not demonstrate that a change in regulation would prevent or ameliorate abuse. Seeing EHE children will not protect them.

GB quoted statistics from LAs that he stated implied that there was a disproportionate number of HE children know to social services. He did not mention how many of the 'known' children were known due to SEN and not because they were 'at risk'. Again, no compelling evidence has been found to suggest that there is more abuse within the EHE community than is present within the general population. In fact, abuse statistics that have been acquired via FOI requests demonstrate that the amount of abuse within EHE is below the national average.

 

2. Extended Timescale for GB

It has now come to my attention that GB has been granted extended time to acquire more evidence to substantiate and justify his claims. This is unjust as home educators have not been given such a privilege. It also demonstrates and confirms that the Review is currently lacking in fact based evidence.

Only a minority of LAs responded to the initial call for evidence which again demonstrates that EHE is of low priority for them.

 

3. Cost Effectiveness

GB suggests a rigorous programme of change which calls for each home educating child to be inspected at least on an annual basis. Although the costs of such a system runs into approximately 200million, government feels that there is no need for extra funding and has dismissed the idea of an Impact Assessment. The monitoring of EHE children would involve the employment of extra staff and a programme of ongoing training for all involved. There is no evidence to suggest that such draconian monitoring and regulation is needed or will be of benefit to children and so such a programme should not be embarked upon. To fund such huge changes would take away funding from the truly vulnerable children within society and would be very damaging to all concerned.

 

4. Relationships between home educators and LAs

Although it is suggested that good relationships between EHE and LA need to be harnessed, the following points have either already damaged relationships or will cause damage:

Unwanted, unjustified, unwarranted and disproportionate interference into the family lives of home educators.

Removal of the rights of the parent to choose the type of education that their children receive.

Removal of children's rights - the right to be listened too and taken their views taken into consideration.

GB dismissed evidence, research and opinion given by HE community.

GB wrongly believes that monitoring will equal better outcomes for children.

GB's suggestions eradicate the possibility of autonomous learning - an educational method chosen by many children and their parents.

Only the Recommendations that talk of restriction and monitoring are being implemented whilst any offers of support are not funded and are dismissed.

Harassment and discrimination of EHE community.

GB's severe lack of knowledge and information and ability to listen and truly learn.

The fact that GB found no proof not to maintain the status quo but has produced Recommendations to the contrary.

 

5. Suitable Education

Recommendations were unable to find evidence of abuse and so moved to the area of education. No evidence was provided that showed that EHE children are not receiving a suitable education. Currently parents are responsible for providing the education they deem suitable for their children. GB's Recommendations want the state to be able to specify 'suitable' and remove these rights from the parent. Parental rights are currently enshrined in law and that is the way it should stay. GB also fails to mention that every time a child fails at school that the school is failing to provide them with a 'suitable' education. This is an important fact and should not be ignored. What punishment do schools or the state get if they fail children?

 

6. Legal problems

Parental rights to educate in the way they deem fit is protected by law.

Children's rights to be heard, considered etc are enshrined in law.

British Law states that an individual is innocent until proven guilty.

GB Recommendations would turn these rights and laws on their head leading the UK into dangerous territory.

If, as GB suggests, the state becomes responsible for providing the education of EHE children - rather than the parent - then this could also possibly leave them open for court action by failed children in the future.

 

7. Safeguarding

GB implies schools are safe and children are safe in them. That, as we all know, is untrue. GB implies that if children are 'seen' by teachers they are safe. Again this is untrue. There is no evidence to substantiate these claims/beliefs. GB believes that if EHE children are seen by the LA they will be safe. This again is untrue and there is no evidence to back up this claim. Taking into consideration that GB feels that EHE children need to be seen by the LA then I assume that all pre-school children would also need to be visited as would children during school holidays. Schooled children as just as likely to be abused as EHE children and so based on this all children would have to be visited at home so assessment could be made of their circumstances and to have the opportunity to be 'inspected'. If GB is to apply a set of rules to EHE families then to avoid discrimination and harassment charges he would need to apply these to all children no matter of age, nationality or place of education.

 

8. Suitability of Graham Badman & Credibility of Review

GB should never have been employed as 'independent' and able to head this Review as: 1. He knows nothing of EHE and was not willing nor capable of understanding this varied and in depth topic 2.He was given the position of CE of BECTA by DCSF which confirms he is not independent 3. GB's background was as working for a LA and 4. He was also involved in the investigations relating to the Baby P case - an abuse case which deems him not independent once again.

GB disregarded evidence and research provided to him regarding autonomous learning. He misquoted individuals in their responses. He used only biased parts of law to promote his views. He used only part of a statement from CofE which if used in full would have suggested maintaining the status quo. He did not gather 'evidence' but used his own personal subjective opinions to create the Recommendation. GB's Review Team did not contain anyone with prior in-depth EHE knowledge accept one person (with limited knowledge).

 

In my opinion it is clear that the gross lack of evidence available to substantiate the need for change deems the Recommendations unworkable, unjust, disproportionate and useless. I sincerely hope that the Committee finds that the only way forward is to abandon the Recommendations with immediate effect.

 

September 2009