Friday, June 19, 2009

Stress testing the Badman report: looking for weak points: Part 4

This series is turning out to be longer than I realised. The more I look, the more weak points I see in this report [opens pdf]. I think I'll rename the posts when I've finished for referencing purposes, so that each one shows which part it's about.

Continuing from yesterday then:

Well, for a report that

believe[s] it is important to try to capture the views of the many home educators who contributed to this review

- according to section 4.1, it spectacularly fails in that respect, doesn't it?

4.2 is vague beyond belief, saying nothing about number, detail or proportion:

4.2 In the main, home educators in their responses through questionnaire, email, letter and interview were fiercely defensive of their rights and actions. There were some who welcomed the visits of local authority officers and the support offered through drop-in centres, resources and materials and some argued for more regularised monitoring and intervention. However, there were those who wanted nothing from the local authority nor any contact with it.

And in 4.3, he deliberately chooses one quote from a response that seems designed to set public opinion even further against us.

Badman report: 4.3

And section 4.4 talks patronisingly about:

a heady mixture of pent up rage, frustration, resentment and a rejection of third party judgement.

Badman the psychoanalyst, hey? Still, it figures...

The point goes on to muse:

In seeking to understand such responses it is important to examine the reasons why elective home education was chosen by parents in the first place.

- and quotes from 'a study commissioned by the then Department for Education and Skills (DfES) in 2007' which basically says reasons vary, but which Mr Badman interprets as placing..

further emphasis on parents disillusionment with schools and their inability to meet their child’s needs as they saw them.

In section 4.5, he adds the finishing flourishes to his picture of us as being a bunch of manically egotistical oddballs:

4.5 My own conversations with individuals and groups of home educating parents would confirm the above with the addition of a significant number who chose this route for ideological and philosophical reasons or simply because they believe they “can do it better”.

Failing to mention the vast majority of us who actually just want to - I don't know - parent our children (strange as that may seem) instead of delegating this to a school to do every day.

4.6 Whatever the reasons, I believe it is important for local authorities both to analyse and consider why an increasing number of parents are choosing elective home education both for the betterment of children services as a whole and the monitoring and support of electively home educated children.

This makes me think that it's the increasing numbers of elective home educators that are worrying to the powers-that-be. In fact, I believe someone's MP has said as much in an email response. We are starting to be seen as a threat to the system: an escape route that must be stopped. I think that's what this is about, and really nothing to do with concerns about children's safety or quality of education.

Points 4.7 and 4.8 go on to give a disproportionate amount of space to the submissions of various associations and bodies including one from the Church of England, about which Mieke has expertly blogged here. She highlights it as yet another example of selective quoting from the report, because actually the full Church of England submission later states that it is:

not convinced of the need to change the current system of monitoring the standard of home education.

A crucial and highly suspect omission, I think.

But it's a most curious thing that, having dismissed out of hand the detail of what most of us have said in response to his review-based questions, Mr Badman then, in point 4.9, attaches 'significance' to our collective complaints about EO's bombshell:

’Education Otherwise’, a home education group, in a detailed set of proposals, listed recommendations they would wish to see as a consequence of the review. However, this evidence apart, what I believe to be of significance was that the immediate response of many other home educators was to disown any such series of proposals and distance themselves from the arguments put forward.

So our many emails etc. did have some effect and were being read - they were just largely ignored when they didn't fit with the recommendations he wanted to make in this report.

I can't see the point of the 'representative body' he recommends after point 4.10, if his key recommendations about conditional temporary registration are enacted. Local authorities will have all the power and any pretence of sharing this with home educators will be just that: pretence.


Blogger lotusbirther said...

But EO admitted that what you describe as th ebombshell wasn't actually written BY EO! Perhaps more correspondance with EO to encourage them to contact the report author and issue a press release stating the fact would be helpful?
That last quote you show includes one of the many "I believe"s - words that prove the report was not following it's original stated aims to collate evidence of one sort or another.

Quite why our views as home educators are dismissed totally out of hand, despite the fact that we ARE the home educators defies understanding.

10:26 am, June 19, 2009  
Blogger Dani said...

Hi Gill,

You said:

"This makes me think that it's the increasing numbers of elective home educators that are worrying to the powers-that-be. In fact, I believe someone's MP has said as much in an email response. We are starting to be seen as a threat to the system: an escape route that must be stopped. I think that's what this is about, and really nothing to do with concerns about children's safety or quality of education."

I think this is spot on, and is why all our carefully constructed and faultlessly logical arguments will be ignored *sigh*.

I am extremely pessimistic about this phase of the struggle, but will go down fighting, nevertheless.

As Grit said a few days ago, we are like water, and water always finds a way through.

1:16 pm, June 19, 2009  
Blogger Gina xx said...

So, they want us montiored and measured to ensure we are to "their" standard...and the chance of the funding for this? I mean if they decide to throust a curriculum up on us are the ptb going to say..."Hey, let's give the home educators the cash we would normally give to the schools" ?
Thought not.
They have my tax money, my NI money yet I don't get a discount for Home educating/Private schooling. (yes eldest is off to private school)

10:51 pm, June 19, 2009  
Blogger kellygreen said...

Please keep posting on this. We in Canada will be very interested in how the situation develops. I'm sure many of us would also be willing to offer our assistance and support. As a parent of four home-educated boys in British Columbia (two of whom never attended school but are honors students at university), I would be happy to share our experiences as home-educators for more than 15 years in two provinces, regarding the various battles we and others have had to fight with various levels of government. Let us know if we can be of any help.

8:56 pm, June 21, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

Answering my own comments a little late here! Sorry everyone - been too busy to do things properly this past week or so.

LB, didn't someone write a piece about all the 'I Believe's? I was trying to find one yesterday and couldn't. You're right - it defies understanding (apart from the obvious agenda).

Dani, good point and well said, Grit.

Gina, I expected something more in the report by way of funding, I must admit. He kept asking people in meetings about it, didn't he?

Thanks very much Kelly. I'd be honoured to host a guest post from you about your experiences, if you find the time to write one. My email address is I think many of us would be glad to learn more about the situation in Canada, too.

8:01 am, June 23, 2009  
Blogger Carlotta said...

Oh no...Dani's pessimistic. That's bad as I'd formed the impression that she's not casually pessimistic as a rule!

My cause for renewed optimism is that I am beginning to realise just how many liabilities the LAs will be opening themselves up to if they explicitly take on the suggestions in the Badman report.

Not that this appears to have worried the LAs a great deal, but then I don't think they have really thought ahead, or really tried to understand the limited role they have now, come to that.

However, the lawyers at the DCSF will have to think through all the implications of any legislative changes, (which will be required if they insist on seeing the child automatically for any other reason than having reasonable cause to suspect that the child is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm) and my guess is that the lawyers will realise just how liable such changes would make an LA.

They should in the process also baulk at some of the monumental constitutional implications.

7:13 am, June 24, 2009  

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