Stress testing the Badman report: looking for weak points: Part 1
1.3 The degree of individualism exhibited may well be a strength but it militates against securing representative opinion and has led to factions within the elective home education community that actually distort the strength of philosophical commitment, achievement and need. I shall make recommendation in this regard.
Yes, it's a strength. Yes, to some extent it could be said to militate against securing representative opinion. Yes, to some extent it has led to factions. But do these factions actually distort the strength of philosophical commitment, achievement and need? If so, how? I don't think they do, and will be coming back to his later justification of that.
1.4 I have taken account of the views of local authorities who are strongly of the opinion that the current guidelines are unworkable in that they are contradictory and confer responsibility without power. I agree with this view and will recommend accordingly.
But he neglects to say that he didn't take into account the views of those local authorities who were not strongly of that opinion. Those local authorities do exist. We know about them. We should insist that their views are taken into account also.
Again, from 1.4:
Good relationships and mutual respect are at the heart of the engagement of local authorities with home educating parents
And yet shifting the balance of power away from parents and into the hands of local authorities, as these recommendations do, risks damaging any relationships that could previously be defined as 'good'.
And from point 1.5:
However, there has to be a balance between the rights of the parents and the rights of the child. I believe that balance is not achieved through current legislation or guidance, and the imbalance must be addressed. Not to do so could result in the concerns for a minority being applied to the vast majority of caring, motivated home educating parents.
"There has to be a balance between the rights of the parents and the rights of the child."... What 'rights of the parents'? He appears, here and later on the same issue, to be referring to Section 7 of the 1996 Education Act which confers a duty and not a right. This is a fundamental error which needs to be resolved.
3.2 The question is simply a matter of balance and securing the right regulatory regime within a framework of legislation that protects the rights of all children, even if in transaction such regulation is only necessary to protect a minority.
Noticeable by its absence is the crucial factor of the potential harm to children caused by such a regulatory regime. This is not touched on in the report at all, but does need to be taken into account and properly balanced with all of the other factors.
From point 3.3:
Article 12 makes clear the responsibility of signatories to give children a voice:“Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.”
Yet under the current legislation and guidance, local authorities have no right of access to the child to determine or ascertain such views.
Because until now, parents have been trusted to represent the views of their children except in specific cases where there might have been good reason to doubt the basis for that trust.
I plan to continue this series tomorrow.