Monday, September 21, 2009

Stress testing the Badman report: summary of weak points

I'd like to draw your attention to two recent blog posts: this one at Bishop Hill, about the DCSF's bizarre and unfathomable excuse for resisting home educators' FOI requests, and this one at Patch of Puddles, explaining the equations of child abuse in home education. I can't help but be inspired by the sheer eloquence of such other campaigning home educators and the amount of hard work that so many people are putting into preserving our freedoms beggars belief, and is quite humbling.

So here finally, on the eve of our Select Committee deadline (Mr Badman has secured an extension to this for himself) is the summary of my critique of the Badman report [opens pdf].


The report seems to make careful use of language in several key areas to obscure or dress up its real meaning, repeatedly referring to such things as parental rights, for example (instead of - as the law states - their legal duties). This supports the erroneous suggestion that there is some conflict between parents' and children's rights, when in fact these are completely compatible with the more accurate position of parental duties.

The recommendations describe a system of licensing for home educators, but refer to this throughout as a system of registration, which it is quite evidently not and even at one point (Recommendation 7) descends to such a linguistically tangled contrivance as: "That parents be required to allow the child.." [my emphasis] instead of stating its real meaning: '..compelled to coerce..'. These and the many other examples throughout the report of obfustication combine to signify a serious underlying degree of fundamental dishonesty, which the author must have deemed necessary to convey what can therefore only be a set of publicly unacceptable concepts.

The review itself was launched on the pretext of alleged safeguarding concerns, and yet a compilation of local authorities' own statistics demonstrate that such concerns were unfounded and that a strict monitoring regime would therefore be disproportionate. An hour spent in the company of a child once a year by a local authority's education officer would also be an absurdly ineffective method of safeguarding and the potential psychological damage to children and families by such an inspection regime as the one proposed in the report is completely overlooked.

Recommendation 24 contains the nonsensical suggestion that a family might not be deemed able to provide a sufficiently safe environment for home education, but nevertheless be left with residential care of its children. We would contend that a child at risk of severe neglect or abuse in its family home is at the same level risk regardless of whether education takes place at home or at school.

The report's recommendations give rise to five serious legal issues, namely: (from recommendation 7) whether it's the educational provision, or the child's uptake of this which is compulsory; that the method of autonomous education in its purest form will not be possible under recommendations 1 and 7, due to the necessity to plan and demonstrate uptake of planned learning; that the proposed de facto licensing scheme will breach a parent's inherent right to educate his child according to his own philosophy; that the 'anything else' rider of the list in recommendation 23 might potentially lead local authority officers to make arbitrary and prejudiced decisions; and that several of the recommendations ride roughshod over the presumption of innocence.

There are four aspects of the report which defy any form of logical reasoning: recognising the need for good relations between home educators and local authorities, but then recommending a list of procedures which would render this all but impossible; calling for "further research into the efficacy of autonomous learning" - after recommending the effective outlawing of the practice which would somewhat challenge the availability of data for such research; [in recommendation 15] seeking to prevent the alleged practice of 'off-rolling' whilst failing to allow for Local Authorities' duty to publicise the option to home educate; and again, in recommendation 24 suggesting that that some children might be quite safe at home with their families in the evenings, through the night, at weekends and throughout the entire school holidays - but not between the hours of 9am and 3pm whilst being home educated instead of attending school.

Finally, the report raises a financial issue in its section 9, in which it implies that the AWPU of home educated children should be drawn down to fund the administration of the recommendations, but not their actual educational provision.


Since I had very little to do with the conduct of the review and related consultations and have mainly focused here on the content of the report since it was published in June, I think I will submit the above summary as my written contribution to the Select Committee Inquiry tomorrow.


Blogger Merry said...

Thank you for the recommendation to read - never really feel my idiots guides match up to the rigours of everyone elses posts!

Did i read on the Select Committee thing that responses should not be published?

9:19 pm, September 21, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

You're welcome and of course it measures up! More than, IMO.

And yes, it says:

"Memoranda submitted must be kept confidential until published by the Committee, unless publication by the person or organization submitting it is specifically authorised."

Isn't that bizarre? I wonder what the justification - and enforcement method - is.

9:22 pm, September 21, 2009  
Blogger Firebird said...

Correct Merry, we're not allowed to make our submissions public so unfortunately a straight copy paste of a blog entry isn't going to be acceptable.

9:22 pm, September 21, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

*Sigh*. Well then, I'll reword it slightly in the morning. Haven't got the time or energy to do anything else.

That's a weird proviso, isn't it?

9:24 pm, September 21, 2009  
Blogger emma said...

I don't think they mean it for blogs; what they don't want is people submitting existing articles and books and expecting them to be read (hence the 3000 word limit). Could you password protect the relevant blog posts just until the hearing is over? That I think would constitute not public domain :-)

10:51 pm, September 21, 2009  
Blogger Maire said...

I think it is about keeping evidence private, possibly so the witnesses for the defence cannot prepare.

I for one hope there is some evidence that will stop him in his tracks. Going to be imagining it as vividly as I can. : )

11:48 pm, September 21, 2009  
Blogger Maire said...

Love the clarity of this Gill.

12:12 am, September 22, 2009  
Blogger HelenHaricot said...

i've submitted, but, TBH, i am a bit worried this is a sham so that at the end someone can say all was done properly. my only gleam of hope is that badman himself and the dcsf appear to be worried about it.

12:31 am, September 22, 2009  
Anonymous Jax said...

If you are the person submitting, then I read it to mean you can authorise publication, isn't that what that says?

But tweaking your post slightly to remove references to links and include summaries of them would appear to work, surely?

Fabulous work Gill, you must be shattered having spent months on it!

1:15 am, September 22, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jax, that is exactly how I have read it, and if it is not the case please do not tell me otherwise as I do not wish to have my beliefs compromised!

2:05 am, September 22, 2009  
Blogger Elizabeth (My Reading World) said...

Only the select committee can authorize the publication of any entries--it becomes their property once submitted. I'd redo your entry--plus, it needs to be sent in bullet point with numbered paragraphs.

8:56 am, September 22, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

It's ok, I've just reworded it all, added a lot more, numbered the paragraphs and done a bullet-point intro etc, as specified.

Am now late for my planned 9am departure! (Still in PJs..)

9:02 am, September 22, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

really good you put it into words so much better than we can thanks for all your hard work you done over Badman report.

6:38 pm, September 22, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was a wonderful summary.

10:05 pm, September 22, 2009  
Blogger R said...

A while back I was hoping you would send your summary in..I'm so glad you did.

12:04 am, September 23, 2009  

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