Sunday, December 17, 2006

Home Education "Research"?

Does this seem like solid research to you? By "this" I mean a government funded study "focusing on the local authority’s role regarding elective home education (EHE)."

"Semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with 21 local authority officers (including those with a lead responsibility for monitoring EHE) and practitioners who were responsible for conducting the monitoring visits. In addition, the local authority officers were also asked to nominate parents who might be willing to speak to researchers, particularly those who had decided to educate their children at home as a result of negative experiences within school. In total, four parents were interviewed to gain their perspectives on EHE and their relationships with the local authority. Relevant documentation produced by local authorities was also collected."

Doesn't therefore seem altogether surprising when they came up with such grossly misleading so-called "findings" such as this:

"The parents in the sample, identified by LA contacts, had developed good relationships with local authority officers and had found the local authority support helpful. Parents noted the benefits of local authority officers having a teaching background. A keen interest in, and a connection with, the children was considered key to the development of an effective relationship between the local authority and families. "

and:

"Almost half of the authority personnel reported having some form of ongoing contact with local EHE organisations"

Wha? We go to or have been to HE groups in seven different areas now and none of these have any direct contact with LAs, as far as I am aware. OK, an organiser of an HE group may be known to the LA but this doesn't meant that the LA has any direct contact with the group at all. I would be interested to hear otherwise, but this bit, as well as many other sections in the report, looks like a mere fiction.

5 comments:

Paula said...

Well said!

Anonymous said...

so they spoke to 21 LAs and "almost half" said they had contact with home ed groups.

they probably mean about 8.

or 9

out of 150

thats' the problem with a fraction of a ridiculously small amount !

they might not even be fibbing, but it's still meaningless

Ron R said...

Imagine, the people they nominated spoke highly of the local authority. Did they expect anything different? Are they familiar with the electoral college process in the USA?

Dani said...

I expect they mean that they know who the local EO contact is. It's one of many potential drawbacks (IMO) of a national HE organisation having a named person in each area. They can easily end up being on first name terms with LA officers and this acquaintanceship can then be (mis)represented as a working relationship, ongoing contact, etc etc. This is not a criticism of any individual EO Local Contact, just a musing on the unforeseen consequences of having such a system

Carlotta said...

I think you have it, Dani. This must be what they are meaning but what a cheek to imply that LAs think they have any form of on-going contact with a group. The EO local contacts, or ex EO contacts I know would absolutely not tell the LA anything about anyone in the local group and would be generally extremely guarded on this kind of issue. The relationship here is entirely between one person and another, and is generally as superficial as possible and has nothing whatsoever to do with the wider group.

The only way I can possibly see LAs making this claim is if the EO contact, or some other member of the group were to take a complaint about LA practice to the LA, but I don't think that this can be constituted to imply that there is on-going contact with an EHE org, which would, by implication, be stretching a point way too far.

And of course, the problem with this type of suggestibly false conclusion is that it could be used against us in the forthcoming consultation on "light touch changes to the monitoring of HEors", since it implies that there is an easy relationship between LAs and HEors when there is, in fact, widespread antipathy on the part of HEors towards LA interference. From the false conclusion, it is a short step to assuming that it would be perfectly OK for LAs to insist that they interfere more than the already do.