Fran and i have been learning equations this last few weeks. I never liked equations; as a child, i struggled to see use for much of what i learned in maths and because i couldn’t see why or how to use them in real life, i didn’t really learn how they were working or why they might be helpful to me. In short, they confused me, bored me and distressed me.
What use is a + b i asked myself? When will i ever need that? What will it ever help me with?
As it happens, i’m married to a maths geek who loves equations nearly as much as he loves me (he assures me it is this way round!) and i have fortunately got 4 children who can not only add up but, freed from the tyranny of lessons that move too fast, don’t apply to real life or use language that bewilders them, quite like maths and are pretty good at it.
Besides which, most maths in this house becomes “how many cakes? how many plates? how many cakes on each plate?” Nothing very scary in that. So really a + b = c, if a is 4 and c is 7, doesn’t sound very worrying to Fran. She knows how to do that and we both learned a lot along the way to some of the slightly more complicated ones 😆 I’m much better at equations than i was a few weeks ago. Strangely, and in direct contrast to many of the people who would say “but you need to be a qualified teacher or good at the subject to HE”, all my children come to me rather than Daddy when they need help with their maths. They know perfectly well that i might not know how to help at once but that we’ll work through it together, and despite knowing daddy can do any sum they might ask him, they know his strength isn’t explanation 🙂 We all have our strengths – and mine is turning things into cakes on plates.
A very, very important piece of information that Frances deduced on her own, within minutes of starting the topic and without teaching, was this
If a + b = 7 that does not mean you can deduce that a = 5. It MIGHT equal 5, but it also might be many other things.
I haven’t bothered to ask her (we are only on week 2 of equations after all) but i’m pretty sure she’d be able to tell you the answer to this too:-
If w/z = y and all the values are known, can you deduce a/b = 2y if b is a number that cannot be known and a is a number in no way related to w?
She’d look at me like i was an idiot.
Shall i tell you a bit about those equations? Because they relate a lot to something happening currently which might change the way we are allowed to home educate in the future.
w is the number of schooled children known to Social Services, while z is the total number of children in school. Now, neither of these figures should be hard for anyone with access to data to establish firmly, so for the sake of argument, we should consider them to be correct. Frankly, if the government can’t produce accurate version of both of those, god help us all.
This means that y equals the number of children in school known to Social Services. For the sake of argument, this data when collected to more closely look at all this appears to be for “all children” so that presumably includes the tiny percentage of HEd kids and under school age children, but the effect is much the same i would guess. HEd kids are less than 1% of the child population and under 5’s probably don’t magically stop being known to SS as they reach school age. Quite the reverse if anything.
So that explains w/z=y
The next one is a bit more complicated because the figures are less clear cut, but they are very important to Home Educators right now.
They were taken, for the review into abuse in home educated children, from a voluntary response (look up voluntary response bias on Google) by LEAs and out of a potential 150 LEAs; only 90 answered, of which the responses from 25 were used.
a = home educated children known to Social Services
b = home educated children known to the LEA
There are a few problems with these figures, before you start using them to compare against a set of other figures.
One is that in a survey of this type, the most likely respondents are ones who have a concern, or a prejudice, or an axe to grind.
Think for example, whether you would entirely trust a radio show survey finding on a subject about which a small section of the community feel strongly one way or another? You might get vociferous responses on both sides from many people, but they might only represent 5% of the country. It wouldn’t do, for example, to extrapolate that 95% of people in the country are against the trapping and feeding of slugs to frogs, simply because only 5% of the callers were for it. It might be, quite reasonably, that the vast majority of the country, rolled their eyes, laughed, didn’t have an opinion, didn’t get through or didn’t bother to respond because there was far too much work on their overworked desk that was more important. Or they were already on the phone. Or listening to something else. Or whatever else makes us not bother or not know.
The data is likely to be even less reliable if you then pick a selection of those answers from which to draw our conclusions.
Secondly, the number of home educated children “known to social services” is a bit misleading, because although that sounds like ‘being abused’ it actually covers far wider issues. For example :-
*already known to SS when they are removed from school due to school refusal, school phobia, bullying or truancy.
* reported to SS as a matter of course due to being removed from school (unnecessary but commonplace)
* reported to SS by a ‘helpful’ neighbour for being out of school
* disabled, with learning difficulties or requiring mental or physical support
* false positives, or discounted allegations of abuse which, even if discounted do mean that child has had contact with the SS
*lastly, actual true abuse or neglect
So.. hmmmm…. not really a very fair figure to use. Fortunately, some people have done sterling work in investigating a true “abused or neglected” figure which you can find in the links at the end.
And then there is the figure used as the number of HEd children. As Mr Badman points out in his report, there are 20,000 registered HEd children but may be as many as 80,000 altogether. it would seem fairer to use the likely larger figure, i you were going to compare against the “all children” or “schooled” children figure. But he didn’t, he used the smaller known HEd kids figure with against ALL SS cases and used it to extrapolate a figure for all HEd kids. If you become known to the SS, by default you are known to be HEd because that is how any system or any coherent action plan for a child is going to work. The comparison doesn’t really add up.
From all of that, the Badman Review concluded that HEd children were twice as likely to be known to SS as schooled children.
a/b = 2y
The only fair equation would be a/c = f where c is the total number of HEd children – and as that is currently unknown, it can’t be done. Then you would need to turn both figures, f and y into a percentage and compare them. In fact, the compulsory registration of all HEd kids in order to protect them from abuse is perhaps going to prove one thing quite conclusively – that they are MUCH LESS LIKELY to suffer abuse. Which, let’s face it, is going to make the whole thing look like an expensive white elephant.
Lots of people went to a lot of effort to try and provide more accurate stats than this, using freedom of information requests from LEAs and specifically finding out the reason children were known to the SS. The results were reasonably comprehensive and staggering and can be seen here in a simple format. From the information gleaned from a wide sample of LEAs, it appears the HE children known to SS due to abuse is 0.32%, as opposed to 1.3% nationally.
But on the facts Mr Badman chose to draw upon, we are slandered and ruined.
And frankly, i wouldn’t want him teaching my daughter to do equations, much less produce a bias free and researched report for the government.
Links to further reading are below – but if any of what you’ve read makes you think that using this review to change HE law on the basis it might be a cover for abuse is not right, please go and sign the petition
An explanation as to why some FOI requests were not granted, apparently because satire and questioning amounted to vilification. Someone evidently doesn’t remember Punch or read Private Eye. Odd really to be accused of bullying, when so many people say kids need to go to school so they learn to deal with bullying.
Press Release and round up.
New request for evidence to back up the review recommendations (from the same people who have already given it) with some odd extensions, for example a sudden request for figures of children who a runaways who were HEd. Strangely enough, the Select Committe gives the public (read HEers) till the 22/9 to respond but Mr badman has had that date extended to 1/10. And he is able to use the SCSF (whom the review was supposed to be independent from) to call for this extra ‘evidence’ via their website.
The Select Committee Review into the conduct of the review and the recommendations.
There is something fishy in the State of England. And they are spending all our money doing it.
(Disclaimer; this has been done by me, using information as i understand it from other sources, who i hope i have mainly acknowledged but please add links into the comments if you would like them added in. Any mistakes are my own. None of this is new or ground breaking and is all done more thoroughly elsewhere. Think of this as an idiots guide.)