Monday, 14 September 2009

Why Should I Be Worried About The Badman Recommendations?

If you haven't already, I would ask you to go to the beginning of this blog and read through all the posts.

When you have done that, and once I have explained just what the Badman Recommendations entail, I think you will understand why you, me and every other person in the country should be worried.

AHEd have produced an incredibly thorough briefing paper which I can highly recommend reading. Gill has also done a painstaking pulling apart of the report which you can read here. I shan't attempt to cover it in nearly as much depth, I shall just offer my personal opinions, and try to explain how our family will be affected.

There are 28 recommendations in the report; some of them could, potentially, be helpful for home educators were they implemented, but of course these are the ones that the government is ignoring.

The main ideas being pushed forward, hurriedly, by government are:

  • compulsory registration
  • the parent providing a statement of educational approach against which the child's "performance" will be assessed
  • annual inspections, with right of access to the home and right of access (alone if necessary) to the child
All of which might sound reasonable, if you are just looking at them superficially. As with everything though, it is always best to read the small print.

Let's take them one by one.

1. Compulsory Registration

Suggests, on the surface, that you just have to tell someone official that you are home educating your child. Sounds reasonable enough, I suppose.

However, what the recommendation actually suggests is a licensing scheme. Parents will have to have their home education assessed and approved, and there after apply annually for approval to renew their licence.

Now just hang on a minute - as we have already seen, section 7 of the education act clearly states that educational provision is the duty of the parent. It is up to the parent to choose whether or not to delegate that responsibility. It is not up to the local authority, or government, to grant permission. To alter the balance in this way will require primary legislation, and it will open the floodgates for children failed by the education system to seek compensation. Remember those statistics we saw in an earlier post: 1 in 6 children leave school unable to read, write or add up. At a time when the country is on the verge of bankruptcy, is this a wise move on the part of government?

All that aside, as I explained in earlier posts, it takes time to find your feet when you start home educating. There is the need for a proper period of deschooling if the child is being withdrawn from school. This needs to be a time with as little external pressure as possible. Having to present yourself and your plans for home education, for official scrutiny BEFORE you are granted permission to home educate, will completely wipe out this very important time for families.

Talking of deregistration, the registration recommendation also plans to tinker with deregistration on demand, something we discussed the importance of in the previous post entitled "A Life Line".

Here is that particular part of the recommendation:

"When parents are thinking of deregistering their child/children from school to home educate, schools should retain such pupils on roll for a period of 20 school days so that should there be a change in circumstances, the child could be readmitted to the school. This period would also allow for the resolution of such difficulties that may have prompted the decision to remove the child from school."

Bye bye dereg on demand, bye bye life line. Especially when you take into account recommendation 15:

"That the DCSF take such action as necessary to prevent schools or local authorities advising parents to consider home education to prevent permanent exclusion or using such a mechanism to deal with educational or behavioural issues."

So perpetuate "The Big Lie" even though to do so may cost a child it's life. As I said in a previous post, these people must accept that they will have children's blood on their hands. This is so tragically twisted when you think that the whole review supposedly came about because of *safeguarding* concerns.

2. The parent providing a statement of educational approach against which the child's performance will be assessed.

Might sound reasonable, possibly, if you don't know anything at all about home education.

The idea with this one is basically that at your annual licensing meeting, sorry, registration, you present your educational plan for the coming year. The following year at your licensing meeting your child is tested and the results measured against the previous year's plan. If the child fails to have reached the targets set for the year, no licence renewal for you.

Why is this a problem? Well, firstly because if you are following a child led approach, you just don't plan a year ahead. You'd be lucky to plan a week or two ahead to be honest. This doesn't mean that following such an approach is slack, it just means that you can follow your child's interests which alter thick and fast - such is the nature of the child.

The other problem is testing. It has been shown that testing children induces stress. That teaching to the test kills their natural love of learning, we have seen this with SATs tests. They are going to scrap SATs tests for school children, and not before time. Many home educators, myself included, are fundamentally opposed to testing, and it is one of the many reasons why we home educate. When you are with your child on a daily basis as we are, you KNOW how they are doing, you KNOW what areas of weakness they have. You do not need a test to tell you these things. Besides which, the law states that a parent has to provide an education, the child is not legally bound to take it up. Can you imagine if they were? For goodness sake, it would be complete bedlam. How do you force anyone to learn anything? You can't, it is impossible. You cannot force feed knowledge in the way you can force feed food. If all children who went to school were to be subject to such penalties for failing their SATs what would we do with them all? Certainly a case of double standards at work here.

Moving on to the piece de resistance ...

3. Annual inspections, with right of access to the home and right of access (alone if necessary) to the child.

This recommendation is just utterly horrific. It flies in the face of human and child rights (don't you love how they separate the child from other humans as though they were a totally different species? Reminds me of the way the government department responsible for this rubbish separates the child from it's family by the use of school - Department of Children, Schools and Families).

Let's get one thing clear; where there are concerns about the safety of a child, there are already laws in place which grant access to the home and to the child. This is as it should be, and is completely fair and reasonable. I doubt anyone would argue with that.

What the Badman recommendations are saying is that just because a family home educates - and let's remember that this is actually the default position because it is the parent's duty to decide how and where their child is educated - that they automatically become suspects. Let's try out an analogy again:

Imagine there is a drug dealer living a few doors away from you. The police have reason to suspect that there are drugs on the premises, and so organise a raid. Perfectly reasonable so far. Now, imagine that just because you happen to live in the same street as the drug dealer; even though you have no previous convictions for drug related crime, there aren't even any suspicions about your good character; the police decide that you could be hiding drugs in your house so they raid you too. Still sound reasonable?

What the Badman recommendations propose will mean that home educated children have fewer rights than juvenile offenders who, under the Beijing Rules, are entitled to have a parent or guardian present when interviewed.

Article 9.1 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child states:

    States Parties shall ensure that a child shall not be separated from his or her parents against their will, except when competent authorities subject to judicial review determine, in accordance with applicable law and procedures, that such separation is necessary for the best interests of the child. Such determination may be necessary in a particular case such as one involving abuse or neglect of the child by the parents, or one where the parents are living separately and a decision must be made as to the child's place of residence.
Remember, we are talking here about children being interviewed, without their parent/s present where there is NO suspicion of any wrong doing.

My own children are horrified at the idea of a stranger coming into their home, taking them off to another room and interrogating them. I can't say that I blame them. It makes me exceptionally angry that even though the government has said time and again that home education is not a welfare issue, here they are saying that actually it is. That our children are to be granted less human dignity and respect than young offenders. No, this is morally corrupt. Apart from anything else, it will leave those doing the interrogating wide open to allegations of abuse. We have a collapsing social care system. Social workers are over burdened as it is, is it really wise,will it really protect children, if we increase their workload by the tens of thousands when there is NO EVIDENCE to suggest that these children are anything but loved and well cared for by their parents?

These are just a few of the 28 recommendations. As I said, taken at face value you might wonder why many home educators are so concerned that they are considering leaving the country.

What these recommendations will do, IF they become law, is kill home education as we know it. We have been home educating perfectly well, perfectly legally, perfectly happily for 9 years. Over night that will end. We will become the subject of unwarranted, microscopic scrutiny because we choose to take the responsibility for our children's education seriously, and do not delegate it to someone else. How can this be right or just?

Perhaps, if you don't see a problem with it, you would like to come and explain to my children why they will have to be assessed and interrogated by strangers who will determine whether they can continue with the education that has served them well these 9 years.

Perhaps you would like to come back in a few years and explain to my younger children why they are not allowed the benefits of the type of education their older sisters had.

Perhaps you would like to explain it to me and my husband whilst you're at it.

Perhaps, if you have a child, grandchild, niece, nephew or neighbour whose life might have been saved by home education, you would like to explain to them why there is no alternative, why they have to continue going to the place where they are so miserable that they are considering suicide.

Perhaps you might like to consider how the complete removal of freedom in education will affect the country as a whole.

Perhaps, if none of these things concern you, you might like to consider what the world will be like when parents are no longer allowed to be responsible for their own children. We are already seeing the start of so many social problems that stem from over prescriptive, state interference in family life. These will only get worse if we allow our parental duties to be over ridden by a one size fits all, iron fisted, state machine.

These people do not care about our children, when they say that it is concern for children that is behind this they are lying, and their lie shines through in those report recommendations.

I'll leave the final word to a social worker:

"These changes would effectively put the local authority and home educating parents in opposition to each other and create a great deal of unnecessary stress for home educators. All this would be done for the sake of improved child protection. In reality, the proposed new arrangements would not result in better child protection and may actually cause more harm than good."


  1. How iwish i could argue that none of that were true :(

  2. You are echoing my thoughts exactly here, another fantastic post.

  3. Nice one Tech. Proper summed up!