Saturday, June 27, 2009

The In-depth Questionnaire (25 Local Authorities Responses).

In the following letter, written prior to the commencement of the review process, Mr Badman notifies LAs of his intention to gather evidence for the DCSF commissioned Review of Home Education. He explains that there will be a preliminary questionnaire, (of which we have two examples here or here and that these will ask the LAs (see the section highlighted in red) if they would be willing to partake in further in-depth study.

"Dear Colleague

Independent Review of Home Education

Today, Baroness Morgan, Parliamentary Undersecretary of State for Children, Young People and Families announced an independent review of home education in England. I am delighted that she has asked me to lead this review.

I know you and your staff are committed to ensuring that all children are able to achieve the five Every Child Matters outcomes. However, we know that some colleagues feel that they are not able to ensure that all home educated children are able to do so. The Secretary of State has asked me to investigate if and how far children who are educated at home are able to achieve the five outcomes; assess the effectiveness of current arrangements for ensuring their safety, welfare and education; highlight good practice; and, if necessary, make recommendations for improvements. The review's terms of reference are attached to this letter.

Over the next three months I will gather views and evidence primarily through interviews with key stakeholders such as local authority staff, home educating parents and home educated children and their representative groups, and other relevant organisations. There will also be a public call for evidence. I will also examine research evidence and review the law and guidance.

I very much need your assistance to ensure we know the full spectrum of practice across the country. With that in mind, I would ask that you complete a questionnaire about your arrangements for supporting and monitoring home educating families. The questionnaire can be found at: http://www.myopinion.org.uk/dcsf/homeeducation/index.cfm. We ask that you respond by Friday 6th February. Completion of the questionnaire is entirely voluntary and responses will be confidential. The questionnaire also asks whether you would be willing to participate in more in-depth work. I intend to look at a small number of local authorities in more detail, investigating key aspects of their practice and interviewing members of staff. Again, participation is entirely voluntary and, should you be selected, completely confidential. Interviews will take place in February and March. I shall report to the Secretary of State in May 2009 when I will publish my full report.

I very much appreciate your taking the time to support this important review and I look forward to hearing from you in February. Should you wish to discuss this work with me further, please contact Elizabeth.green@dcsf.gsi.gov.uk.

Yours sincerely,

Graham Badman
Chair, Independent Review of Home Education"

We now have confirmation that is indeed what happened. An FOI result here reveals that:

"All top tier local authorities (150) were sent the local authority questionnaire (Annex D of Graham Badman's report). 90 responses were received. A second questionnaire was sent to the 90 local authorities who responded to the first questionnaire, 25 of whom responded. A copy
of the second questionnaire sent to the 90 local authorities is attached, which provides the answers to the questions you have asked."

The above appears to suggest that the 25 LAs who did respond to the in-depth six questions were indeed self-selecting which could of course mean that only those LAs with an axe to grind bothered to respond.

We have now had sight of at least some of the questions from the further in-depth study which Mr Badman undertook. These six in-depth questions were made public on HE lists on 27th July, and were a result of a FOI request and are as follows:

"Independent Review of Home Education

Rationale:
Vulnerable children who are being home educated may pose an increased concern in terms of their safety, wellbeing and education. The independent review is seeking specific evidence on:

i) the prevalence of vulnerable children in your current EHE caseload;
ii) the type of vulnerability you have encountered in the past and / or are experiencing currently.

Your views as to what measures could be taken to improve the safety, wellbeing and education of these children are also sought.

In relation to (i) above:

1. What proportion of your current EHE caseload is known to Social Care in the following capacities? Please include open and closed cases.

Type
Number
% of caseload

Section 17 enquiry[1]
Section 47 enquiry[2]
Section 37 (care orders)
Children who are or have been subject to child protection plan (or previously on the child protection register)
Other (please specify)


Total number of children

2. What proportion of your current caseload do you estimate have safeguarding implications?

Number
% of caseload

Total number of children

Parent with mental health issues

Child with mental health issues

Parent with substance misuse issues

Domestic violence

Child abuse or neglect (current or previous)

Other family circumstances

Concerns but cannot determine due to inability to see the child

Other (please describe)

Concerns about parental ability / capacity to undertake home education (not covered above). Please specify reason:

3. Request for case studies

In relation to (ii) above, please provide two or three anonymised case studies (more if you wish) describing cases where you have specific safeguarding concerns. Within your description please provide information detailing your specific concerns including any issues around obtaining relevant information about the child from the parent or child (including difficulties in gaining access to the child). Your views as to what measures could be taken to improve the safety, wellbeing and education of these children are also invited.

Additional information

4. In your estimation, what proportion of your current caseload is not receiving any education?

5. In your estimation, what proportion are home educating to avoid prosecution for attendance issues?

6. What proportion of EHE youngsters became NEET (please use the latest data you have available and note the timeframe in your response).

------------------------------

[1] Do not include children who are disabled where there is no concern about parenting or quality of EHE.
[2] Do not include cases that did not lead to further action."

===================================

The Annex here represents answers to the above in-depth questions from the 25 out of the 90 LAs who were asked to participate:

Annex:

Known to social care [1]

25 of the 90 LAs asked responded (28% response rate)

*Based on the data we have from the 25 LAs, the average (median) proportion of EHE children per LA known to social care is approximately 7%. We estimate there are approximately 3% of children (5-16 years) known to social care in maintained schools. [2]

*Within the 25 LAs for which we have data, there were 477 registered home educated children who were currently known to social care.

*On average (median) 7 children per LA were known to social care.

*Extrapolating to the national level (150 LAs, this means around 1350 home educated children are known to social care in some capacity (6.75%)

(1) Known to social care includes Sections 17, 37, 47 enquiries.
(2) Using 2005 data (the latest available), these are approximate figures and include disabled children."

See a statistician's comments on these statistics on AHEd's wiki page and Maire's letter to the Statistics Authority.

re sections 17, 37 and 47 of the Children Act 1989.

Section 17 deals with the provision of services to children in need, and does not necessarily have anything to do with whether that child is at risk of abuse from his parents.

Sections 37 and 47 will include all families who are referred to social services, whether or not there was any actual risk of abuse. The home education community suffers from an extremely high rate of spurious referrals to SS, eg: for no other than that the referrer didn't realise that HE is a legal option. Yet these families, once referred, remain "known to social care". It does not mean they are on an "at risk register".

It seems that Mr. Badman did however, set out to exclude spurious referrals, and disabled children for whom there were no concerns over abuse.


6 comments:

Jax said...

Where has this come from?

Tania and Andrew on Pegasus said...

Carlotta- I have just become aware of this 25 local authorities questionairre. HOw on earth have we missed this on all the lists? how on earth did you get hold of it? do you know which 25 La's were asked - we think Hampshire responded. Help? thanks Tania

Carlotta said...

Hi, sorry to have confused you with the date. I had backdated the post so that I had a record of this questionnaire, but didn't want to use it as a post in itself, iyswim.

I only saw it yesterday, ie: Monday 27th JULY in an FOI response from an LA (Hampshire) on one of the lists. I will include the date on it to avoid further confusion.

The questions are highly significant in that it could mean that one might rule out the idea that Mr Badman's "known to social care" had included spurious referrals and children using services for reasons other than abuse..though actually we don't know that he didn't include these as we haven't seen all the responses he received, and we don't know how effectively the LAs disaggregated the false and the real abuse, and the users of services other than for abuse.

Given the high standard deviation that Lynn found in her FOI analyses, it would suggest that Mr B would be very wrong to extrapolate upwards from the figures he did get here, but hey ho, it didn't stop him, though he must have known that his figures were highly questionable, so somewhere in the section on safeguarding in the review, he allows the HMCI to speak for him when he says something to the effect of "hey, you know what? Let's just forget about overall numbers. We know there have been one or two bad cases, lets fly with those.

Thing is, Spry and Ishaq wouldn't have been solved by his proposals: Spry already known and visited, Ishaq - deputy head had phoned SS 4 times on day of dereg, and Ishaq's parents had a shut door when social worker turned up.

Only law abiding HE families will register and answer the door. Registration and inspection therefore = a pointless waste of money.

Jax said...

I was slightly worried that we'd known about this all along, but I didn't think I'd seen it before!

We desperately need to know which LAs responded to this. It looks like they may have tried to exclude SEN from the causes, but if they were that watertight on their stats, it begs the question why the reporting wasn't phrased differently.

Sally said...

annex 5 footnote 2 shows he didn't have access to up to date data for all schools and that the comparative data he used included section 17 and the other exclusions he mentions in these questions (2005 data for maintained schools only).

So, he made a comparison between that group (2005, partial school sample, disabilities incl, etc) and EHE with exclusions, for 2008?!?!?

Is that right?

Carlotta said...

I think that's right, Sally.