Sunday, August 23, 2009

Stress testing the Badman report: points arising: Safeguarding

We went to this last Wednesday - they're happening all around the country. Such fun, I can definitely recommend it.

Today I'm summarising the main points arising from my critique of the Badman report [opens pdf] which are about safeguarding:

Possibly the main problem is that the report contains no mention of the harm caused to children and families by false positives and the inspection process, apart from very briefly in the SEN section, which then goes on to recommend a more stringent inspection process! As Allie said in comments here: "If people try to impose the rules of a vast, rigid system in their own (or worse still) other people's lives, then damage is done. People find themselves caught up - struggling, bending rules and hoping not get caught, or enforcing them and watching the ensuing suffering."

To bring in a system of regulation for home education on the basis of safeguarding would be a disproportionate response anyway, taken in context with what's known about the Statistical incidence of child abuse in home educating families (less than 50% the normal rate). As Jo said in comments here: "Home educators to my knowledge are not aware of any cases where existing powers, properly used,were insufficient."

The NSPCC admitted that there is no statistical evidence of abuse in home education, and NASWE in the report said:

EHE is not in itself a safeguarding issue..

The recommendations put more trust in Local Authority officers - strangers to the child - than in the child's own parents, but all of these officers aren't necessarily trustworthy. As Elaine said in a comment here: " 750000 people who could theoretically access a childs details 'find' an unticked box and toddle along with their I.D. card and demand to see the child... alone."

Point 11.2 of the report includes the following:

I have sought to strike a balance between the rights of parents and the rights of the child, and offer, through registration and other recommendations, some assurance on the greater safety of a number of children.

And yet, as many others have pointed out, an hour spent in the company of a child once a year provides absolutely no assurance of that child's overall level of safety.

The last key 'safeguarding' point arising from the report, in my opinion, is in recommendation 24:

That the DCSF make such change as is necessary to the legislative framework to enable local authorities to refuse registration on safeguarding grounds. In addition local authorities should have the right to revoke registration should safeguarding concerns become apparent.

- because if a family is not deemed to be safe enough to home educate during the day time, then the child can't be left in its care at all. The point therefore defies logic.

Those are the points I've highlighted as being particularly problematic regarding safeguarding. Feel free to add your own in the comments.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

well your last point says it all... for goodness sake. If the child is in such a precarious position that he/she can't be home educated, then what are they going to do? Will they say *ok missus bad parent, you can send your child to school but you can't home educate! No way EVER, HOW DARE YOU?..but please enjoy your summer holidays and weekends, because once in school, your children are SAFE" ?

3:14 am, August 24, 2009  
Blogger Dave said...

The bit that really gets me is, that in order to make this proposed legislation work effectively involves a huge investment in the LA recruitment, training, management, vetting and support. I don't think the money will be there. If the investment is there, it will be high on the list to be cut when the country decides to pay back some of its loans. This is because it affects a minority not segmented along politically hot lines.

Without the investment, EHE folks will be far worse off and subject to all the worst case scenarios listed above.

I believe laws should be crafted so competing factions are balanced in their desire to achieve their objectives and be directed to provide a win/win/win outcome. A win for each faction and a win for society as a whole.

These recommendations put the weight absolutely in the hands of the government.

10:07 am, August 24, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The fact is that some home educators are subjected to extreme prejudice now from local authorities, even when the law is marginally in their favour. But, if the law changes to gift the LAs with what they say they want, real people could lose their right to home educate and, perhaps, their children altogether.
It would be an evil day for England, Northern Ireland and Wales if these ridiculous recommendations from a prejudiced man and a paranoid government are adopted.


11:20 pm, August 26, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This page about the NSPCC might interest you ...



11:54 pm, August 29, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This page about the NSPCC might interest you ...



12:20 am, August 30, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since the phrase which has disappeared, "Parents are the best judges of their family’s needs", was associated with the Summerhill tribunal, I'll bet Summerhill still has a written record of it somewhere. Maybe we should ask them if they could send it to us? It's a wonderful phrase and it would be great to be able to cite it to the review inquiry.

10:11 am, September 02, 2009  

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