Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Stress testing the Badman report: looking for weak points: Part 2

3.4 Furthermore Article 28 of the UNCRC recognises the right of the child to an education. Education is compulsory in England and it can be provided at school “or otherwise”. The responsibility for the provision of a child’s education rests with their parents who also have a duty to ensure that any education provided is “efficient”, “full time” and ”suitable”.

Someone has just emailed to remind me that, while educational provision is compulsory, its uptake by the child is not. I seem to remember this being part of Summerhill's defence when threatened with closure by the government about ten years ago, though I'd need to do some research to find the details about that and they might no longer apply anyway.

Point 3.6 makes inappropriate use of the term 'required to intervene', which doesn't even fit grammatically with the ensuing quote:

3.6 This poses a further problem for local authorities charged with a statutory duty under section 437 (1) Education Act 1996 in that they are required to intervene:

“If it appears to a local education authority that a child of compulsory school age in their area is not receiving suitable education, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise, they shall serve a notice in writing on the parent requiring him to satisfy them within the period specified in the notice that the child is receiving such education”. [citing Mr Justice Woolf in the case of R v Secretary of State for Education and Science, ex parte Talmud Torah Machzikei Hadass School Trust (12 April 1985)]

But this is not wholly incompatible with Donaldson's informal inquiries and does not signify the 'requirement to intervene' in cases where there is no appearance of lack of suitable provision. It seems to me that by use of the term 'required to intervene', Mr Badman is attempting to attribute a different meaning to Woolf's words to the one that was originally intended.

He goes on, in point 3.6, to say:

Additionally local authorities have a duty which requires them to:

….. make arrangements to enable them to establish (so far as it is possible to do so) the identities of children in their area who are of compulsory school age but—
(a) are not registered pupils at a school, and
(b) are not receiving suitable education otherwise than at a school. [citing Section 436A of the Education Act 1996 inserted by section 4(1) Education and Inspections Act 2006]

'So far as it is possible to do so' being, I think, the key phrase, (ignored by Mr Badman).

As a result of this confusion, in point 3.7 he raises the strange and convoluted question:

How can local authorities know what they don’t know with no means of determining the number of children who are being electively home educated in their area, or the quality of what is provided, without rights of access to the child?

- which raises more issues - mostly unnecessary - than any reasonable question should:

  1. How can local authorities know what they don’t know? - They can't, and section 436A of the Education Act doesn't require them to. (Remember: 'So far as it is possible to do so')
  2. They have means of determining the number of children - wasn't that what Contactpoint was supposed to be all about?
  3. Local authorities are still, to date, not expected to assess the quality of provision, only to take action if it appears to be unsuitable or inefficient, and
  4. Accessing the child is no gauge of quality of the provision. It doesn't tell them anything, except that there is a child and that he is or is not willing to speak and/or demonstrate some small part of his learning on that occasion. Insistence on 'access to the child' (by which we must assume is meant some form of questioning or testing of the child) to verify educational provision can only be based on an intrinsic failure to trust parents to supply accurate information when asked. In other words: parents are assumed to be automatically guilty of lying unless and until they can be 'proved' innocent.


I'll continue this series with my next post.


Anonymous Renegade Parent said...

Badman's blatant disregard for fundamental statements such as "so far as it is possible to do" only serves to demonstrate that the evidence has been carefully selected to fit a pre-determined outcome (that the status quo is not acceptable and must change).

Such deliberate caveats should be encouraging any well managed LA to evaluate its resources and prioritise its services appropriately, rather than, as you say, operating on a presumption of guilt (that will stretch it to past breaking point and fail yet more children who need them).

Any right-minded person can see this and the many other contradictions and errors that riddle this document- thank you for taking the time to go through it and highlight them here.

The real challenge will be tackling the people who do not want to see the obvious problems with this - they simply want the intended outcome and will therefore have a vested interest in failing to see the evidence in front of them, no matter how obvious and/or clearly presented.


4:38 pm, June 17, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it might be a good idea to gather all our information about terrible LAs/visits etc. and present them in a report to Watchdog. The show examines consumer issues. We are consumers of the LAs 'care.' If we could get Watchdog digging, that might start people thinking about what is likely to happen for parents - all parents - if these recommendations go through.


8:22 pm, June 17, 2009  
Blogger Raquel said...

"How can local authorities know what they don’t know? " enter Badman the philosopher! Sorry that bit made me laugh!

8:56 pm, June 17, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The laws are already in place for child protection.
The Local Education Authority do not access all school children, teachers fail sadly to reconise abuse under their noses.
This review is not the way to go about it.
What they should be doing is opening up facilities, issueing free bus passes etc, free admission, hire or free equipment to home educators and forget monitoring because home educated children, have a natural love of learning, those that start of in HE know the joys of this, those that leave school to follow education at home, come to learn the love of their desire to learn.
how on earth can this be measured individually when the mindset of officers will be a collective mass of school inpregnated doctrins.
no one in this country conforms to the same as his neighbour in all they do, so why should all children be made to function like clock work robots.

11:32 pm, June 17, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Pressure on Children results in Reluctance"
The state has caused this in many children,that is why some HE'er choose to educate because they see for them selves the change in their child's behaviour away from the school environment. Putting children back under tight regulations is the same as putting them on display to the public.
No MP would encourage this with their own child, so why should the people of BRITAIN who choose to Home Educate.

11:42 pm, June 17, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A poem for Home Education.

Let the children think,
Let the children Breathe,
Allow their qualities to transpire.
Free from pressure, free from stress.

No hindering the children,
Their journey is short
Allow them to flourish.
Show appreciation for their knowledge.
One day in the working world they will show all, The quality of what they have been taught.

Respect their decision,
Aid their efforts,
Wake up to the 21st century.
Home Education is tomorrows future for all our young members of society.

(C)2009. posted by a caring parent.

12:06 am, June 18, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And then we get this in the paper - its revealed to be at a school... but doesn't it read like a fairly typical day in some home ed households (or should I be embarrassed by that...? lol) Saving that I don't move my 5 year old on every 15 mins and consider that a long spell.....

12:32 am, June 18, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

Lisa, I agree but still feel the need to go through it before moving onto other things.

Diane, great idea - did someone put some on the wiki?

Raquel, he's also hilarious today, isn't he? ;-)

Anon, thanks for your comments, all of with which I agree and appreciate.

7:02 am, June 18, 2009  
Anonymous Oracle said...

Please read 'Badman and the Berlin Wall'

6:26 am, October 07, 2009  

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