Friday, June 12, 2009

The Telegraph on the Badman Review

Here and here.

From the first piece, we gather that Graham Badman, contrary to the impression formed when we met him, doesn't appear to have taken anything we said seriously, doesn't understand autonomous education and hasn't given due thought to the constitutional implications of what he proposes.

"Mr Badman said a further review would be carried out to judge the structure of an acceptable home education. Releasing the report in central London on Thursday, he suggesting children aged eight should be "competent in handling numbers, have "rudimentary" computing skills and be able to read. Lessons for those aged 11 to 16 should be based around "broad systems of knowledge", he said.

Ed Balls implicitly appears to agree that the state should be responsible for determining suitability of education. In his letter to Graham Badman he states:

"We accept that LAs need greater powers to monitor home educated children to confirm they... are receiving a suitable education."

Ok, sirs, tell us this. How would you argue that only home educated children have the right to necessarily achieve what the state deems to be a suitable education? Surely, if you believe that HE children have these rights, then school children do too, since after all, the government itself maintains that Every Child Matters, and as children's rights are framed by the UNCRC, they do seem to apply universally? In which case, what would happen to the more than one in six children who, treasury figures reveal, leave school unable to read, write or add up?

I can see this playing out one of two ways. Either it is still deemed the parent's responsibility to ensure that the child is in receipt of a state-determined "suitable" education, in which case, these families should be pursued by the state in much the same way that Badman proposes HE families should be pursued. Children should be interviewed in their own homes, as their welfare is clearly not being attended to, case conferences should be called, parents rights to determine the place and nature of their child's education should be even more clearly rescinded.

Or, and this seems more likely to me, it will be deemed that the state, by determining the nature and content of an education, and by determining that children have a positive right to such an education, will now be held responsible for provision of this education. It really is no longer up to the parent any more to decide on the actual suitability of the form and content, and they therefore cannot be held responsible when that state-determined education fails their child. So when the child is indeed failed by the state-determined form of education, as with the more than one in six children who leave school unable to read and write, parents will rightly hold the state responsible and I imagine they will do this through the courts.

Other related blog posts:

Adam Smith Institute
Alfred the Ordinary (Detailed critique. Suggests Badman should look to US not Europe)
Bishop Hill (on Human Rights)
Blogdial
Douglas Carswell, MP (on Ed Ball's motivations)
Frabjous Days
HSLDA on how the UNCRC has been manipulated by Graham Badman and the UK gov't
James Bartholemew (What's wrong with the government inspecting all home schoolers)
Libertarian Alliance
The Melangerie
Nothing Exceptional (Reasons to be angry re the review)
Peter Hitchens (on the Jack Boot of the state)
Reflections in the Green House
Renegade Parent
Sometimes it's Peaceful
Spiked Online
Staffordshire (Letter to MP)
The Telegraph Blog
UKIP

Other press reports:

The Guardian
The BBC
The Times
The Times (with comments explaining the situation re HEors being known to SS)
The Mail
The Independent
Community Care

32 comments:

Graeme said...

No one has the power to hold the state responsible. Can you go and inspect a local school and order it closed if the standards are low?

The only chance home educators in the UK have is to hope this government can be got out of power before they can get new legislation through.

The government also wants to be able to brainwash children into "acceptable" attitudes and values - the crackdown on home education is coming a few years after compulsory citizenship lessons, and shortly after the extensions in sex education etc.

Anonymous said...

I've just asked various bods at DCSF where I might find the Impact Assessments for the registration and monitoring consultation.

http://www.berr.gov.uk/files/file47158.pdf

Fiona
http://www.freedomforchildrentogrow.org/update.php

Carlotta said...

Thanks F. Yes, we do need to know!

And Graeme,

I think a change of government is one hope that does remain, but I am not completely sure that you are right to think that things won't change sufficiently for us to hold the state responsible for educational standards.

I mean other state funded services which clearly have a duty of care for something and are then found not to be negligent and failing, can be held accountable.

eg: Legal action is fairly regularly taken against hospitals.

Schools haven't been a target up to the present time at least in part because parents are still deemed responsible for their children's education. When it becomes clear that they no longer are responsible, (as a result of the vetting process for HEors and the state setting the content of education), then this situation will change, as Lord Adonis seemed to understand when he wrote this:

http://daretoknowblog.blogspot.com/2006/10/lord-adonis-on-fourfold-foundation.html

Anonymous said...

Well, we won't find the Impact Assessments because they haven't been done. So all that stuff about how the Review didn't breach the consultation code of practice because it wasn't a consultation doesn't apply to this actual consultation. (Unless they are going to say that this consultation is a special kind of consultation where BERR/BIS rules don't apply. They could always play the Child Protection Card.)

Fiona

Carlotta said...

Forgot to ask, F, if the Impact Assessments would include costings for the banging up a lot of yummy mummies who have previously demonstrated a strong community spirit, but are now just saying no!

Anonymous said...

Will E.O. be taking responsibility, do you think, for coordinating all action against this extraordinarily, ignorant and prejudiced action on behalf of the government? Would they coordinate a march to Downing Street amongst other things?

I think we need to do more than just resist as individuals by refusing to register or allow our children to be cross examined. Whilst demonstrations have not achieved results with government very often, it can be one of a number of things to bring this to the attention of the public (this will encourage more dissatisfied parents to take their children out of schools, it will bring forward people who wish to sue the state for failure to educate their children and will make this something that can't be done quietly). We need to get funding from business men who are sympathetic and succeeded despite or without schooling.

D

Leo said...

"From the first piece, we gather that Graham Badman, contrary to the impression formed when we met him, doesn't appear to have taken anything we said seriously, doesn't understand autonomous education and hasn't given due thought to the constitutional implications of what he proposes."

Carlotta, are you seriously surprised by this?!

Leo said...

D, my fear is that a demonstration will just make public opinion worse. Of late they have gone from bad to worse. It's very likely we could attract counter demonstrators distorting our message and violent people that could vandalize property.

This is a democracy and the opinion of the majority of people voting will rule and the majority of people are authoritarian and ignorant and think more of how the lives of others should be ruled than how to live freely themselves.

Anonymous said...

Good point, Leo. Addressing sympathetic people more quietly to obtain their support might be best.

However if people who were failed by school realised they could sue the government for compensation, I think opinion might change a bit. There is an enormous amount of public dissatisfaction with current school standards. If the governement introduce the level of interference proposed by Badman, they will have to compensate the victims of a failing school system. People would be delighted surely to benefit from compensation? They could afford alternative education, time out of a menial job they might not have wanted to re-train and so on.

D

Anonymous said...

I meant to add that I think Carlotta is entirely right about the comparison to the NHS. We can sue them for failing to meet their goals, why not the school - now the government think they can decide the content of education? They are going to fail even more children if they make AHE impossible.

D

Carol said...

Please excuse me if I am being stupid but is it not stated in Article 26 of the "Declaration of Human Rights" that:
" Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children."

Leo said...

Yes it is. I am not sure if we have a case, though, since all other countries in Europe already are strict education laws.

The government is not imposing a curriculum, so they might state they are not imposing a kind of education, just imposing the right of the child to be educated, which is also in the human rights charter.

Anonymous said...

he did 'threaten' something of that sort, quoting European guidelines. But no one is arguing about children's entitlement to an education. HEers aren't trying to get them to work in factories or mines or anything. However, it is arguable that an education means a child has to read and write by 8 years old, for example. That isn't specified in children's rights. Education can not be measured by specific achievements at precise ages in that way. There is a case surely.

D

Dani said...

If they implement Recommendation 2, they will be imposing a curriculum.

"Recommendation 2
That the DCSF review the current statutory definition of what constitutes a “suitable” and “efficient” education in the light of the Rose review of the primary curriculum, and other changes to curriculum assessment and definition throughout statutory school age. Such a review should take account of the five Every Child Matters outcomes determined by the 2004 Children Act, should not be overly prescriptive but be sufficiently defined to secure a broad, balanced, relevant and differentiated curriculum that would allow children and young people educated at home to have sufficient information to enable them to expand their talents and make choices about likely careers. The outcome of this review should further inform guidance on registration.
Home educators should be engaged in this process."

At least, they will be saying the curriculum has to be broad and balanced, which will completely undermine AE, where you can be as narrow and specific as you like, as long as you are meeting your child's a, a, a, and SEN.

scatty said...

What does the bit about the number of home educated children who are known to social services mean? The review says that the numbers among home educated children are disproportionately high in some LA's? What does this mean?

Leo said...

Yes, I know. But ECM is a byproduct of the children's rights charter.

I think out only chance is if a good number of autonomously educated children, that are now independent adults, speak up.

dottyspots said...

scatty - tbh higher proportionate numbers of HE-ers being known to SS doesn't really surprise me.

There's more than a few HE families with children with SEN/disability. My eldest son has a designated SW, but there has never been any question that my children are at risk of abuse.

Being known to SS doesn't necessarily = children at risk.

Add to that poorly-informed referrals from concerned professionals such as HVs and GPs who are not convinced of the legality of HE and on top of that malicious referrals from neighbours, ex-partners, family members, etc and I can see how the numbers might begin to mount.

Also, there will be a proportion of HE-ed children who at some point in their school experience may have truanted, been considered to have 'school phobia', etc.

Well it isn't much surprise really that there may be quite a few in some areas known to SS.

However, I reiterate, being known to SS DOES NOT automatically mean that children are at risk of being abused.

I'm champing at the bit atm because I'm really annoyed at the inference that because I'm known to SS and HE that my children are more 'at risk'.

I've spent more than 7 years fighting under two different local authorities to secure support for my eldest son who has been both at school and HE. Ds no2. just cannot cope in a school environment and the school nearly bit my hand off when I said I intended to de-reg.

I'm so very very angry at some of the articles in the press.

Oh and it won't just be AHE that is a risk - children being expected to read at 8 is going to cause problems for quite a few structured HE-ers too (and that being the case where does Steiner ed stand bearing in mind that children start school later and don't begin to be formally taught to read until around 6 1/2 minimum and don't even get me started on the number of children in primary schools that are not confident readers, if they're reading at all at 8).

Anything that amounts to insisting a particular curriculum being delivered is anathema to me.

*Then* there's the logistics of it, I live under a LA that has been severely slammed for its inadequate provision for children and young people. Yet another death has hit the national headlines (under this LA). Where on earth are they going to find the people to implement all of this?

mum6kids said...

I'm pretty appalled by the standard of reporting in the press on this.
I accept that the BBC wont get it and will get all mushy over the bullying of Ed Balls but I would have expected better standards of basic journalism from the press-even with the appalling reputation they have.
If it wasn't for blogs I wonder how the truth of this review would be getting out there.

I have written to Mark Fields and thanked him and asked for assurance that a Tory Government would never allow anything like this to pass.
There is some hope that there will not be time to get this all passed through before the next election-but they must think there is to have gone this far. I wonder if a private members bill might try and be slipped through in November.
Keep your ears to the ground people.

Oh and btw Graeme-I agree with you about curriculum. And my view on their version of sex ed for my little ones? OVer my dead body!

Tom said...

Leo said:

... [they the public] think more of how the lives of others should be ruled than how to live freely themselves.

Very nicely put.

Elizabeth said...

Hear, Hear, Hear, Hear.

I am absolutely gobsmacked by the utter crapness of the so-called review. He could have just written it before the so-called consultation period, couldn't he, and not bothered with the token gesture.

Anonymous said...

I thought just that, Elizabeth. I thought that Badman and Balls got together months ago with a goodie basket of what they wanted (which is anything but good for any child) WITHOUT talking to children to genuinely find out what they want.

Judicial review.

Class action - I'm sick of being called a child abuser. I am sick of being threatened by these thugs. It's time to fight back.

Diane
http://www.threedegreesoffreedom.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

re suing school - haven't there been a few cases of young adults taking LEA's to court over failing to provide a suitable education/identify their dyslexia?

sarah

Anonymous said...

I have just read the Badman report and I find myself unsure where I stand on some of the issues he raises. I hope to be able to reach a more informed opinion by bouncing some ideas around with the informed and articulate people who comment here.
I home educate my children and feel a great deal of unease at the thought of someone having the right to enter my house and possibly talk to my children alone.
We are unknown to the LA an to be fair I like it that way. We also do not sit down and think about where we want our children to 'be' in 12 months time as the report suggests we would need to.
However the report refers several times to balancing the rights of children and parents and it refers to rights that children have under law, (was it European or UN convention - I cant remember)an education.
There seems to me to be a certain logic between a child having a right to an education and the need for the 'state' to find out if a child is receiving it. Otherwise what would be the point of having the right?

Darren

Elizabeth said...

I've written my own little rant on the subject at http://frabjousdays.blogspot.com/2009/06/badness-from-badman.html

Anonymous said...

Darren,

I agree that it would seem reasonable that the government verify that the children have the education to which they have a right, but there is already a system in place which achieves this goal and the proposals - as you point out - do not take account of the variety of educational philosophies that are behind the educational paths chosen by different parents. If the government carries out Badman's proposals, many of the restrictions that make school untenable for a lot of children will be automatically imposed. Children will no longer be able to benefit as much from home education as they should.

It is ludicrous to think that parents can predict exactly what a child should know at the end of 12 months when learning and interest might have followed entirely unpredictable paths. The attempt to pin the achievements down might achieve a few ticked boxes (to make the officials happy chaps) but will limit the child's creativity and destroy the pleasure of learning by turning it all into a dull chore - that is to say, by turning it into school (albeit, one would hope, without the attendant bullying).

D

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth, thankyou for the link. Wow! Hats off to you for te amount of thought you have put into this. It is going to take me a while to read through and digest your comments.

D, you said 'I agree that it would seem reasonable that the government verify that the children have the education to which they have a right, but there is already a system in place which achieves this goal'

But the system does not acheive that goal. We are unknown to the LA and have no contact with them, it is unknown how many other families like ourselves there are.


Darren

Elizabeth said...

In reply to Dottyspots comment:
"Oh and it won't just be AHE that is a risk - children being expected to read at 8 is going to cause problems for quite a few structured HE-ers too (and that being the case where does Steiner ed stand bearing in mind that children start school later and don't begin to be formally taught to read until around 6 1/2 minimum and don't even get me started on the number of children in primary schools that are not confident readers, if they're reading at all at 8)."

Do you think this means the schools are going to have to have everyone reading by age 8? Does anyone have the stats on how many kids leave school with low literacy and numeracy ratings? How many leave without taking any exams?

dottyspots said...

There are some stats around re. the number of school leavers and their 'level of attainment' in literacy and numeracy.

However, it just won't apply to schools.

TBH I can't see how it could really apply to us either as there are so many arguments against it.

Anonymous said...

Darren,

Registration is one thing, but interfering in an educational practice, which is quite possibly superior to the one provided for the average school child, by imposing completely inappropriate forms of judgement and expectations is downright foolish.

Personally, I think if the government restricted itself to how it could further best practice (the drop in centres, help with exams and so on) and focused on how to spread information about children's rights and people's responsibilities towards their community, this would bring the best out in every one and eradicate many of the problems. Home educators would come forwards because it would be enriching.

Registration will never prevent criminals (and abusers are criminal) from perpetrating their crimes. People still drive without insurance; people don't register their children's birth if they really don't want to, and so on. Punitive action against many innocent people, when systems are already in place to catch those who abuse where possible, is counter productive.

Sorry if this is somewhat incoherent but I have not much time this weekend.

D

Leo said...

"people don't register their children's birth if they really don't want to"

How can you get away with that?

Anonymous said...

It would be entirely possible if the health service isn't in the know about the pregnancy and the birth is unassisted, although it would restrict the chid's movements.

D

yoli said...

nice work keep it up