Assessment has an *ass* in it
It explains the current situation for home educators, and contains some ideas regarding what we can do about it. I'll be linking to it from my sidebar: email me if you want the code for that and/or any of my other buttons there.
But today we're all talking about the impact assessment of the CSF Bill: this weekend's cat amongst the pigeons. The section on home education starts at page 83.
From this document we learn that the policy is expected to be implemented in April 2011. That gives us - and them - 17 months, if the bill goes through and everything goes according to their plan.
One question asked is: "Does enforcement comply with Hampton principles?" but I've never heard of those. Does anyone know what they are?
Costs relate to Local Authority professional and administrative officer time and also opportunity cost for parents/carers, giving a financial value to time spent with the local authority..
I wonder what is an 'opportunity cost'?
LAs estimate that 8% of 'home educated' children are receiving no education at all and 20% are not receiving a suitable education (including the 8%). Improving the educational attainment levels of these children would bring benefits in terms of increased job opportunities and salary levels.
LAs can't possibly have any idea about these figures, and - job opportunities for whom? And there is of course something deeply wrong with a system that openly measures our children's education in terms of financial output, unless we're to accept the ancient principle that only the elite can be allowed to learn for pleasure and everyone else must be trained for manual labour, which wouldn't be very Fabian of us, would it?
Page 86 contains something called the Evidence Base (for summary sheets), which is quite a hilarious title for what follows it.
There is evidence from serious case reviews and LA evidence that home educated children who are not regularly seen in the community are those where there are most likely to be child protection concerns.
That's straight from the Graham Badman school of logic, isn't it? Asinine.
While ContactPoint will lead to the right infrastructure for a registration database being in place and will prompt some follow up by local authorities, identifying electively home educated children is not its primary function.
No, but as a reason not to use it, this is weak.
We estimate that 100% of children will receive 1 in-year visit, with 50% receiving further monitoring.
There: you've got a 50% chance of being left relatively alone, if this goes through as it stands. I wonder if targets will be set.
We have not yet defined the content or rigour of a “statement of education”, but it is likely to be a short, word-processed document.
I'm lost now. Which 'statement of education' is this please, if anyone knows?
Registration will last 12 months, and will therefore be renewed every year. The intention is for this to be a light touch refresh of details, but may extend to a refreshed educational statement, which will be a short document.
Grasping at straws, but this is something we'd be able to hold them to, I guess.
Here's something about 'opportunity costs':
Opportunity costs to parents
The opportunity costs to parents of meeting with local authority officers have been factored into the costing. However, we have not included a cost for the preparation of an education plan on the basis that:
- Even though parents and carers may not give it that name, it is a core part of planning ahead to deliver home education for their children. Any change will not represent additional time invested, but instead mean that parents and carers are using some of the time they devote to home education differently.
I've read this several times and I still don't understand what it's trying to say. Is it a recognition of the fact that all this malarky is going to take up our time, as parents? "using some of the time they devote to home education differently"? Is that a 'nice' way of saying that our children must sit in a corner and rot, while we compile plans and reports for the local authority? If so, I think we've just found the 'ass' in 'assessment'.
- Curricula are available for immediate download from QCA and DCSF websites, and are adequate for the purposes of education planning.
*Baffled again.* Yes, but what have they got to do with us? We're not running schools. We don't do that kind of educational planning. And even if we did choose to do so, what's that statement doing in this document? It makes no sense to me.
The section on School Attendance Orders is slightly baffling too.
School attendance orders
The Badman Review makes clear that School Attendance Orders (SAOs) should be the ultimate sanction for taking a child out of elective home education and back into school. We considered including the cost of SAOs in our calculations, but have decided against it for the following reasons:
If we apply this percentage to 40,000 children, this means that around 20 children would be affected and for the (highly unlikely) prospective cohort of 80,000, this is 40 children. Divided among 150 local authorities, this is well within the margin of error.
- We have no direct data on the number of SAOs used by local authorities each year.
- We can, however, use a proxy measure — Ministry of Justice figures on the number of adults sentenced for child truanting offences. This shows 1953 in 2003, 2072 in 2004, 2209 in 2005, 2952 in 2006, and 3,788 in 2007.
- The actual number of children of 5-16 in school in 2006-07 was 7,440,000. So, the prevalence of sentencing was approximately 0.05%.
What's the relevance of the existing truancy figures? They're nothing to do with home education at all. The section seems to be saying that there will be hardly any SAOs issued, so funding doesn't need to be allocated for the process, but I fail to see why such draconian rules and sanctions should be introduced when there are evidently no plans whatsoever to use them. It's bizarre.
LAs tell us that home educators who avoid interaction with the local authority tend to be providing inferior education.
LAs could tell us the moon was made of green cheese, so should we put in a bulk order for cream crackers? How do they know that home educators who avoid interaction with the local authority tend to be providing inferior education, if they're avoiding interaction with the local authority? Back to 'LAs don't know what they don't know'. At least Badman admitted this, instead of trying to assert that they do, as here.
A survey of local authorities found that in the opinion of officers monitoring home education, 20% were receiving an inadequate education and within that figure, 8% are receiving no education at all. This means that if there are 20,000 home educators, 4,000 children are getting an inadequate education among them 1600 are receiving no education at all.
Right. In the opinion of officers monitoring home education. There are quite a few of those, nationally, who flatly refuse to recognise education which doesn't include timetables, desks and workbooks. These figures mean nothing.
And then we're lectured, sternly. (Did the infamous Penny Jones write this, I wonder? I can hear echoes of her "Well, want or not, I am a government official, and these five outcomes are government policy!" in this:)
The consequences of receiving a poor or inadequate education in later life are that the young people denied an adequate education are unlikely to achieve recognised qualifications and more likely to turn to crime or substance abuse.
No. The statistics are useless for this. A child out on the streets running drugs from his 13th birthday is more likely to turn to crime or substance abuse. People like my older children, in a loving and educational family environment who make a conscious and well thought-out decision to opt out of doing GCSEs, are not. These differences are profound - and completely ignored.
The document then, disgustingly, goes on to put a monetary value on our children's heads. If they get X number of GCSEs, they'll go on to earn X amount of money and if they don't, they won't. So these decisions must be taken. There can be no freedom. They must earn the money. What if they don't want to? What if they'd prefer to have less money and more freedom? That's apparently no longer a choice they're allowed to make.
One of the next sentences contains a syntax error:
Or proposals for funding this support have been set out in the Secretary of State’s full response to the Review of Home Education in England conducted by Graham Badman.
And back to the time issue:
We envisage that home educators will spend a significant time with the Local Authority early in the process of planning the delivery of home education. These meetings will address the child’s educational needs, and identify the best way to meet these which may include access to educational and support services available in the area.
And where will the children be? Will we be expected to just dump them in a Children's Centre or something, while we lounge around chatting to local authority officers? I think not. No, local authority officers will have to get used to meetings containing our breastfeeding babies and toddlers and other children - as bored and disruptive as they become in listening to all of this droning bureaucracy taking place above their heads. No wonder they're allowing 8 hours for the ordeal. It might take that long to get past the first paragraph. Cloud cuckoo land. Hugely impractical. These people obviously don't have young children and if they do, they're the farmed-out variety.
Monitoring will improve the ongoing standard of education in individual homes.
At present, although the local authority engages with some families when they deregister their children from a school, there is no structured approach that sets out how any or all local authorities maintain contact with these children to monitor their educational attainment.
Some home educators want more support and access to a fuller range of support services. Engagement from the local authority will enable the types of support the families need to be offered, including in the form of personalised services.
Educational outcomes will therefore be improved overall by more consistent identification and intervention in homes where standards are low or there is no education plan. In extreme cases, it may be in the child’s best interest to attend a school, and this will also have an impact on attainment.
However, we cannot at this time make any detailed evaluation of the quantitative or qualitative impact this has on electively home educated children. This leads us on to the next benefit.
As a justification for home visits, this is laughable. How does the amount of support parents might want relate even remotely to official sight of their homes? To find out what someone wants, you have to ask them. You can do this by snailmail, phone, email or face-to-face meeting. You don't have to invade the privacy of their homes to try to second-guess what the answer might be. Where is the logic, here? Where's the common sense?
Evaluation will be planned now to ensure that changes in outcomes and standards can be measured accurately. The quantitative data we currently hold about home educated children’s educational attainment is limited. We do know, however, that post compulsory education, home educated young people are 4 times more likely not to be in education, employment or training than other young people.
I'd definitely query this figure. Out of all of the home educated young people I know - and because I've got three of my own, that's quite a lot - none of them is NEET. Not one of them: a properly home educated child would have no need to be. So where has this "4 times more likely" come from? It's just rubbish.
The rest of the document relating to home education is about safeguarding, again trumpeting those statistics which are now well known to be faulty.
The whole thing is a sham, isn't it? Badly put together, poorly researched and just a shoddy piece of work. Has it really come to this? I can hardly believe we're in England.