Memorandum submitted by a group of home educating parents
1 Executive Summary
· The "expert committee" did not appear to be fairly balanced
· The sources quoted in support of the report did not always appear to be quoted completely and in context
· Mr Badman has only compared English Home Education regulations with Europe and not the USA
· The Report doesn't set out the existing law or offer evidence of its unworkability.
· The quoted figures for child abuse among home educated children are based on flawed statistical methods.
· A large body of Home Education Outcomes appears to have been ignored
· The cost implications do not appear to have been considered
· Recommendation 7 requires a substantial shift in Law away from the parent towards the state with regards education.
2 Introduction to Submitters
2.1 We are home educating parents of three children aged 9, 6 and 20 months. We have chosen to home educate from the outset rather than come to it due to issues such as bullying, special needs etc.
2.2 We both have a background in education one with 10 years as a primary school teacher and the other as a University Lecturer and Research Fellow.
3 Factual information
3.1 An expert committee looking into elective home education should surely comprise of a reasonable proportion of members with firsthand experience of Home Education. It appears that the committee in this case contained only one person with Home Experience (Professor J Conroy). We are concerned over whether this composition was fairly balanced.
3.2 We are aware of at least one instance in that the quote from the education division of the Church of England[4.8 Badman report] quotes only their concerns about Home Education and not their overall conclusion.
3.3 "10. 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 home-educating this should be a matter for Children's Services"
3.4 This selective quoting does not meet the Civil Service Code in terms of Honesty and Objectivity. If there is one significant miss-quote we are aware of how many more have been made that we are not?
3.5 Mr Badman in paragraph 11.1 reviews legislation in European countries with no reference to the highly developed and rather more liberal Home Education system in the 50 states of the USA. This leads to conclusions that do not reflect the global status of Home Education. Mr Badman in paragraph 1.4 opinions that the Local Authorities believe the current guidelines unworkable. He also refers back to this statement as if it is fact but offers no evidence in support of this statement. We understand over 90 LAs responded so the evidence should be available. The regularity issues are then discussed on this basis without summarising the current requirements for comparison.
3.6 From the figures available it would appear that Mr Badman has based his estimation on flawed statistical methods. He uses responses from the 25 LAs that responded to the question about children known to social care. This of course includes false positives and disabled children. He then assumes that the 65 LAs who didn't respond would have similar numbers to the 25 respondees rather than consider that they may have not had any numbers to provide.. This means the numbers are based on a sample of 17% of all LAs or 28% of respondents. He also uses the median rather than the mean for the calculation. The errors noted are compounded by further lack of rigor and statistical validation leading to a grossly misleading figure for HE children at risk based purely on the fact that they are known to social services.
3.7 In paragraph 10.2 Mr Badman states he is not convinced by existing research studies on outcomes yet seems to have ignored a vast array of research particularly from the USA such as the "Homeschool Progress Report 2009" (http://www.hslda.org/docs/study/ray2009/2009_Ray_StudyFINAL.pdf) by Dr Brian D Ray who has published extensively on the collective outcomes, achievements and how the parents level of education makes a difference. Mr Badman seems to have ignored this body of positive research.
3.8 Whilst Mr Badman discusses resources in section 9 he does not appear to have considered the true costs of his proposals. In deed Recommendation 28 appears to pass the problem back to the DCSF and the Local Government Association. This does not seem to provide sufficient detail to show that the proposals are workable and/or affordable. (A report commissioned by the HEAS has estimated that it could cost up to £500m http://daretoknowblog.blogspot.com/2009/07/heas-press-release.html )
3.9 It is our understanding that currently access to the home by agencies such as police, social workers et al requires some evidence to support their right of entrance. Recommendation 7 seems to shift this to being an authority's right and an implicit assumption that a home educator is guilty and must prove their innocence. In addition the right to speak each child alone does not appear to provide any safe guards to the child from the LA representative or the nature of their questions.