This is nothing more than my notes as i read – i daresay i will have more that worries me later. The full text is here. (opens pdf)
I’m concerned that we might, by dint of feeling beleaguered and abused, see only the negatives in this report. For now, i am going to focus on what i can find, in print, from a considered source, that backs up what we have said so far.
“We suggest that local authorities need improved means of identifying and differentiating between the children in their area who are in school, who are being home educated, and who are otherwise not in school.”
This quote refers to registration being a good thing; we’re known, so this has less of an impact on us, potentially (hopefully) anyway than it does on some. I’m not going to agree to compulsory licensing, but i acknowledge the nod that school, EHE and CME are different.
“Where we believe that the Badman Report and the proposals in the Children, Schools and Families Bill run into difficulty is in their conflation of education and safeguarding matters. We are disappointed at the less than robust evidence base that the Badman Report and the Department have presented with regard to the relative safeguarding risk to school and home educated children. Furthermore, we suggest that existing safeguarding legislation is the appropriate mechanism for the purpose of safeguarding and promoting the welfare of home educated children, and that the proposed addition of annual visits would offer little direct safeguarding benefit over and above this.”
To this, i think – thank you. I think this is more damning than it first appears. I think they don’t believe this was a fair or well conducted review and that the recommendations over-reach what is right and proper in terms of ‘safeguarding’.
“The effectiveness of more robust arrangements for monitoring home education provision will rest on the knowledge and skills of local authority officers. We do not believe that the Department has
paid sufficient attention to these areas, and we question the estimates that it has put forward regarding the cost of the registration and monitoring and support-related recommendations contained in the Badman Report. In particular, we fear that the Department underestimates the training needs of local authority officers.”
Optimistically, i think this is a barbed remark that this is going to be an expensive, ill-trained and ill-used weapon in the hands of LA officers who intentionally or ignorantly misuse it.
“The way in which the Department has handled the Badman review has been unfortunateâ€”from the way in which it framed the review, through to its drafting of legislation prior to publication of the related consultation findings. We trust that the Department will learn
from this episode as it takes forward other such reviews in future.”
Ha. Ha!!!!!! In your balls, Mr Balls!!!!
“It is not acceptable that the Bill was published before the Departmentâ€™s analysis of the response to its consultation. The Department still had not completed that analysis when we came to publish our report.”
No, it really, really isn’t. We’re a democracy – at least we are supposed to be – and we are supposed to allow due democratic process to take place.
“Unfortunately, many of the home educators who contacted us were of the view that publication alone of the Badman Report had undermined any goodwill previously in place between home educating families and local authorities. Some referred to families who had ceased contact with their local authority simply because of publication of the Report.”
I’m glad they have acknowledged this because i know it is how many law abiding, thoughtful, intelligent and generally happy to deal with LA parents feel. Despite 6 years of LA contact, which was foisted upon me, i have never had much of a problem dealing with them once we got past the LEA lady who tried 3 lies first to see if she could force Fran into school. I have had good relations with my, now redundant, LA officer. I know i don’t feel remotely likely to be welcoming to them now though.
“Given that the total number of home educated children is not known, making claims about the proportion of these children who are at risk is problematic. Any child who is subject to a Child Protection Plan is known to a local authority. We know how many of these children are home educated. As we do not yet know how many home educated children there are in total it is not possible to come to any conclusions regarding the relative proportion of home educated and school educated children who are subject to a Plan……..Given the lack of information on the actual numbers of home educated children, we
suggest it is unsafe for the Badman review to have reached such a strong conclusion about the relative risks of a child being home educated or school educated. We believe that any intervention should start from the educational needs of the child.”
The statistics were not safe. There may be children at risk of harm in the HE community and i regret that. But there are children at risk everywhere and plenty seen daily, using the normal social care mechanisms, who are still at risk. It is wrong to have smeared us so thoroughly and i do feel this is acknowledged.
Unfortunately i can’t find anything positive in the monitoring section to quote, except that the suggestion of a voluntary registration scheme being tried out for 2 years implies to me that, knowing they can’t stop this from happening or make compelling case for it not happening, a lightweight version that hops across two governments and proves the expense and unworkableness of it, will lead to it being quietly dropped. I hope i am not being over optimistic in what i’m reading into that suggestion. Knowing this government though, i think that they are bullies who will not climb down from a face off but will accidentally let something slip away when it isn’t in the limelight any more.
“As is already the case with many voluntary arrangements between home educating families and local authorities, the primary purpose of these meetings should be to offer guidance and support to and gather feedback from families, not inspection or to impose school-based frameworks. Local authority officers should focus on matters of educational provision, but be trained to be able to identify signs of harm and know who to refer the family to in such instances.”
This is the best i can find in this section, much of it i disagree with. But i can find one positive in the slant of this Select Committee Review and that is that it appears to ardently seek to remove the conflation of welfare and educational provision. It does appear to have acknowledged in tone and language that home educators do not simply deserve suspicion of child abuse because they choose to be with their children.
“We do not believe that local authority officers responsible for liaising with home educating families should be given the right to interview a child away from the childâ€™s parents. That right should be reserved for colleagues who have primary responsibility for child safeguarding, including social care services and the police. A parentâ€™s or
childâ€™s refusal for such an interview to take place should not be included as grounds for revoking registration to home educate. Any related concerns on the part of the home education team should be passed to social care services.”
Agreed. And succinctly put. There is more in the preceding paragraphs which point out that the review seeks to ‘give the child a voice’ so long as the child agrees to speak and that if they wish to not speak, that could/should lead to further intervention in Badman’s view. THAT is a violation of a child’s rights, in my opinion, and needed acknowledging as a circular and unfair logic.
“Given the evidence that we have received and the nature of the registration and monitoring proposals presented in the Children, Schools and Families Bill, we do not believe that the Department has put forward a realistic appraisal of the likely costs of those proposals.”
Quite frankly… no sh*t!!! £40 odd million a year on 80,000 children can be better spent elsewhere – and databases, staffing, training, visits, CRB checks to do the job, vetting so you can go into houses and speak to children alone would add up to far, far more. The costings suggested around 16 hours per year to be spent on each child by LA officers – 64 hours a year on children in this house alone, who currently take up 2 hours of LA time a year between them!!!
“We believe that local authorities should have the right, on safeguarding grounds, to refuse or revoke registration to home educate. However, this should only be where a child is already subject to child protection measures, not solely on the basis of unsubstantiated safeguarding concerns. There is also a strong case for requiring any
decision to refuse or revoke registration to be subject to approval from an independent person or body, rather than have responsibility rest with local authority home education advisors. We recognise that in some instances a child being subject to child protection measures would not necessarily preclude home education.
107. If local authorities are to be given the right to refuse or revoke registration to home educate on the basis of safeguarding concerns then we agree that home educating families must have right of appeal. It is disappointing that neither the Badman Report nor the Departmentâ€™s response to the Report included discussion of an appeals process.
While it is right that the Children, Schools and Families Bill provides a right of appeal, the Department should give more details of the proposed appeals process before the House considers the Bill.”
I’ve included all of this, despite having a rooted objection to compulsory registration or monitoring, because i want to make clear that i do wish it were possible for all children to be safe and well cared for and in the best possible state of well being. Some kids, i know, have a tough life – but a tough life at home isn’t necessarily made better by being a school for part of the day either. I know from my associations with some professional people, that plenty of children DO benefit from the food and care that comes to them at school. I do however suggest that these children are a minority in the same way that HE children with a poorer life than some are a minority.
And the big part of this paragraph is that if you are going to impose a legal structure of monitoring on a community, there must be an independent body to appeal to. I would add to this in my own voice –it must not be Ofsted. Ofsted are NOT independent.
In the end, i think my overriding feeling is that had this SC report set out a robust defence of home educators, it would be dismissed as unbalanced a report as Badman’s. I think they’ve tried to seek a middle line, acknowledging the concerns we all answer on a practically daily basis (surely you have to tell someone????) with a fairer appraisal of HEers as an honest section of the community. It wasn’t intended that this report would really support us, it was intended to look at the review. I do think they’ve listened. I do think the language is not something Mr Badman (or his daughter!) will find comforting. I hope it is enough to delay some of the parts of the Bill. I hope it allays some of the fears of the wider population who have been given cause to wonder about us. There is much it doesn’t answer, much that we’d prefer not to have to have imposed on us. But i think it will be a useful tool in our fight. The bits it gives us no help on, we already knew we were going to get no help on. But a written statement which seeks to unpick educational provision and welfare is useful.