Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Stress testing the Badman report: looking for weak points: Part 1

Because I've spotted a few, in passing, during my various readings of it:

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.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just because he agrees with the LAs that they don't have enough power does not mean they don't have enough power. He does not put forward any evidence for this. Home educators to my knowledge are not aware of any cases where existing powers, properly used,were insufficient.
PS thanks for this

3:38 pm, June 16, 2009  
Blogger Barry said...


I've become a keen reader of your blog over recent months, and an occasional poster. The outrage within the HE community at the moment is incredible, makes you realise what passion and knowledge we all have to share. I suppose the question for us all is to decide how best to confront and rebuke this review.

I'm a member of a yahoo group which is currently coming up with all sorts of good ideas - marches, posters, writing to MPs both sitting and prospective, of whatever hue, writing to papers, radio, TV, making this a common cause with *all* parents. Amongst other ideas, it's been suggested to put together a critique of the review itself, and also to produce a counter review to show the possibilities of HE. Alan Thomas has, I understand, said he is keen to help. Would you be interested in helping with this? If so, could you PM me to discuss? Thanks!

3:48 pm, June 16, 2009  
Blogger Mieke said...

My youngest daughter is outraged about that last quotation. She says that not one of her schoolgoing friends has ever been taken serious when they express their opinions and feelings about school, if ever they've been given a chance to express them.
She says if anybody wants to come to our house to ask her how she feels about home education, she'll make sure all these schoolgoing friends will be there, and she will want their views listened to in the same way.

4:30 pm, June 16, 2009  
Anonymous Jax said...

I think the group that Barry is referring to is the Badman Review Action Group.

I suggest any kind of fisking of the document is perhaps done on a private wiki? pbwiki allows for that kind of thing, and a wiki that would allow you to just make pages from bits of the report might be quite a nice way of doing it.

I can't face another yahoo group...

7:26 pm, June 16, 2009  
Blogger Barry said...

Yes, hello Jax, it is the Badman Review Action Group. Should have said that!

9:02 pm, June 16, 2009  
Blogger Maire said...

I have not read the blog post i am commenting on, nor the comments, that's for tomorrow. I have just popped in to say I have my suspicions!!!

11:12 pm, June 16, 2009  
Blogger Elaine said...

present guidelines for LA's there are an awful lot of changes to the law required if they wish to impose anything on home edders

2.15 As outlined above, local authorities have general duties to make arrangements to safeguard
and promote the welfare of children (section 175 Education Act 2002 in relation to their
functions as a local authority and for other functions in sections 10 and 11 of the Children
Act 2004). These powers allow local authorities to insist on seeing children in order to
enquire about their welfare where there are grounds for concern (sections 17 and 47 of the
Children Act 1989). However, such powers do not bestow on local authorities the ability to
see and question children subject to elective home education in order to establish whether
they are receiving a suitable education.

2.16 Section 53 of the 2004 Act sets out the duty on local authorities to, where reasonably
practicable, take into account the child’s wishes and feelings with regard to the provision
of services. Section 53 does not extend local authorities’ functions. It does not, for example,
place an obligation on local authorities to ascertain the child’s wishes about elective home
education as it is not a service provided by the local authority.

12:17 am, June 17, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Gives an interesting twist to some of the language used in the review and consultation...

12:19 am, June 17, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

Barry, I'd be glad to. I joined the group in question but don't have the time to keep up with discussion there, but anyone working on it is welcome to make use of my posts. Meanwhile, let me know if a group gets together for the counter-report. I'd be happy to input, as time allows.

7:58 am, June 17, 2009  
Blogger Barry said...

Thanks Gill, I'm not trying to take this over, just bring interested people together so we don't duplicate our efforts unnecessarily or miss anything in the flurry of activity at the moment!

Thanks though, will speak soon.


11:55 am, June 17, 2009  
Blogger moley said...

This article by Dr Brian Robertson was presented to the Home Affairs Committee Enquiry who were looking at child protection. It is a little our of date (2002) but makes a powerful case about the harm caused by false allegations:

It absolutely sickens me that Badman makes no mention of the harm that could/will be caused to some children by 'interviewing them' especially those on the autistic spectrum.

If I had any doubts before, this is the absolute clincher which convinces me that these people are not remotely interested in protecting children, but merely out to control and damage!

12:35 pm, June 17, 2009  

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