Memorandum submitted by the Stockport Home Education Partnership



My wife and I are members of Stockport Home Education Partnership (SHEP). This is a small but representative group of Home educators in the Stockport area of greater Manchester. The points raised in the attached memorandum reflect the views expressed at a meeting held on September 3rd 2009, which was attended by about 25 people.

I trust that your committee will come to a fair conclusion on the conduct of this review.


Executive Summary

1. Badman's conclusion 'the number of children known to children's social care in some local authorities is disproportionately high relative to the size of the home educating population' cannot be concluded as the size of the home education community is unknown.

2. If there is not a significant risk to children in home educated families then the need for Badman's review and its recommendations are seriously questioned.


Details of Submitter

3. We represent approximately 20 home educating families in the North West of England. We are a mixed group from different sections of the community.

4. Our claim to expertise is that we have many years worth of experience of home education and we know the reality of the amount of contact that LEAs have with the existing home education community in our area and their level of understanding of what we do.

5. Whilst LEAs and home education groups vary across the country, from our knowledge gained from friends in the other parts of the country we feel that our group is representative of "typical home educators".


Factual Information

6. Badman's statement implies that appropriately accurate data has been collected from which this conclusion has been drawn. In our group only approximately 20% are known to the LEA. This is perfectly normal and legal practice. LEAs are only automatically informed if children leave and are therefore "deregistered" from state schools. Some home educated children were previously in private schools and many have never attended school, they have always been educated at home.

7. A rough guess of the size of the home educated population in the UK would be at least four times the size of any figures that LEAs report. But surely this sort of guess work with figures is totally inappropriate for making decisions at national level.

8. It is virtually impossible for an LEA to determine how many of the children that have deregistered are electively home educated. Only if the LEA has met the child and the family can they comment on this. There is no fixed timetable or procedure for the LEA visiting Home educating families in our area. There can therefore be a large time gap between a child deregistering and there being a visit. Children could be moving areas etc and not being electively home educated. The figure reported by the LEA, therefore, on the number of home educated children known to children's social care may include children who are not electively home educated.

9. Badman has recently written to LEAs requesting more detailed information. He requests that the LEA advises on "The number of electively home educated children in local authority". They cannot provide this accurately as stated above.

10. In his recent request for more information to LEAs, Badman has asked LEAs to advise on the number of children "Receiving a full time but not suitable education". No current definition of suitable or full time exists uniformly across the UK. Probably every member of our group would define these terms differently. The whole value of home education is its flexibility and adaptability to each child. The data supplied in these categories will therefore be flawed and open to subjective interpretation. This data is therefore qualitative and not quantitative.

11. While it is terrible that any child should suffer abuse, it is common sense that limited resources are focused on the high risk groups. Our qualitative knowledge of home educators tells us that home educated children are a low risk where they are electively home educated i.e. when a parent spends many hours per week educating them at great personal cost of time and effort. Child abusers treat children with disrespect and would not invest time educating them.



Recommendations for Action

12. Dismiss Badman's recommendations on the basis of flawed statistical evidence. Decisions cannot be made on the basis of subjective evidence owing to the problem of bias. If the committee feel that there is some evidence of risk to home educated children then simply implement a basic registration procedure for a few years which has the sole purpose of collecting decent statistics. Then proper decisions can be made.


September 2009