Tuesday, June 30, 2009

21st Century Schools White Paper

Ed Balls' speech can be found here.

No mention of the monitoring of home educators that was leaked yesterday, but perhaps he is just keeping that under wraps for now.

UPDATE: Can't find any mention of home education in the White Paper (Your Child, your schools, our future, Building a 21st century schools system) or in the DCSF statement about the paper here. What am I missing!

Badman's Recommendations Already Becoming Law

So much for the consultation! Arrangements to monitor home educated children are already in hand. See point 7 of the Improving Skills and Safeguarding Children Bill, released yesterday.

"improving monitoring arrangements for children educated at home".

There must be a procedural point here. Surely it shouldn't be possible to draft stuff into legislation before determining the outcome of the relevant consultation?

I think we must get talking to the BRE and pointing out that the government appear to be playing fast and loose with their code of practice on consultations, eg: criterion 1

"Consultation should take place at a stage when there is scope to influence the policy outcome. "

The Bill will be released in full today. The Guardian forewarns us and the of some of the contents.

We can let our views on the Bill be known here and perhaps we should be talking to the red tops about the general shamminess of the consultation process. This government is dishonest and it isn't just their expense claims.

The Telegraph has more on home/school agreements

Panoptican and Renegade Parent also comment on the issue.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Cost Implications of the Review

EO's summary of current state of affairs with regard to funding of monitoring and support schemes for home educators, here.

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

Baroness Delyth Morgan, 29th June 2009, here:

"An impact assessment is not required for the consultation at this stage as the proposals are still at an early stage of development. We do not expect them to place any significant additional burdens on local authorities as most already monitor home education, and our proposals will provide additional powers that will assist local authorities in dealing more efficiently with the small number of cases where home education does not come up to scratch. If we decide to proceed with legislation we will publish an impact assessment and will place a copy in the Library of the House."

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


From Hansard, November 3rd 2009, on Government estimates: here and as follows:

"Ms Diana R. Johnson: We estimate, subject to discussion with the Local Government Association, that the overall additional costs for implementing the registration and monitoring elements of the Badman Review recommendations will be £21.65 million in the first year with additional ongoing annual costs of £9.78 million.

We estimate that an additional support package for home educated children will cost a further £21 million in the first year rising to £22 million in subsequent years. This is based on an estimated cohort of 25,000 home educated children who all seek additional support. We know that this estimate may be too low and we will adjust our funding commitments as Local Authorities get more clarity over the numbers of home educated children and the services they may seek.

The 28 recommendations are wide ranging but the financial costs fall into the following broad categories:

Estimated cost
£

First Year Ongoing

Registration and deregistering from schools

14,000,000

2,500,000

Monitoring

7,000,000

7,000,000

Training

350,000

280,000

Evaluation

300,000

0

Support package

21,000,000

22,000,000

Total

42,650.000

31,780,000

"
==============================

Home Education Advisory Service (HEAS) would beg to differ somewhat. They estimated that the proposals will cost between £60 million and £500 million to implement.

Michael Crawshaw, who wrote the report for HEAS, said:

“New spending will come from three sources:

First, a requirement that local education authorities construct a new layer of administration to register, assess and monitor home education.

Second, the local authorities will also be instructed to pay for some exams and open up school facilities to home educated children; facilities that are already at full stretch. While this aspect of the proposals would be welcomed by home educators it amounts to just 8% of the new spending.

Finally there will be a rise in the state education population as a number of home educated children are forced into schools.”

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

Michael Crawshaw's revised report in the light of the announcement from the DCSF can be viewed here.

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

Partial Regulatory Impact Assessment from the 2007 EHE Review: here

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Centralisation in Education Doesn't work

Why, just when the government is having to admit that centralisation of education fails in schools, do they then propose to centralise the system with regard to home educators?

Honestly, how were these people educated?

Review Panel Members

From Sometimes It's Peaceful, panel members for the Review on EHE.

Ted Melhuish
Mick Waters
Delroy Pommell
Steve Hart
June Statham
Paul Ennals
Steve Heppell
Beth Reid
Sue Berelowitz
James Conroy

LA Questionnaires for the EHE Review

60 Question, questionnaire. (?90 responses)

26 Question, questionnaire, Annex D of the Review (?included in the 90 responses)

In-depth 6 Questions for LAs on vulnerable children. (6 questions, 25 responses = self-selecting LAs, as all 90 who responded to the first questionnaires received a copy of the 6 questions.)

For more information on how these questionnaires were used in the review process, see here.

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.


In-depth Questions for LAs on Vulnerable Children

We have now had sight of at least some of the questions from the further in-depth study which Mr Badman undertook and which we believe were answered by 25 LAs. These in-depth questions were made public on HE lists on 27th July, and were a result of a FOI request.

(For more information on the review process as it involved LAs and for answers to the following questions, see here.)

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

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.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Lord Lucas on Welfare, Home Education

...and on really taking children seriously!

My heart skipped a beat (in a good way) when I read this:

"What improvements can you suggest? My thoughts include:

Making it totally clear in guidance that sending a child back to school is not ever an acceptable outcome if against the child’s wishes".

Finally, finally, finally we have someone in a position of influence who actually understands that giving children a right to be heard and to have their opinions given due weight, doesn't just mean ignoring them when it suits your purposes.

It is the case that the government similarly claims to respect the voice of the child and yet, unlike Lord Lucas, they almost never do any such thing. If they did actually listen and take the views of children seriously, there wouldn't be tens of thousands of school children who would far rather be educated out of school. The government's position on children's rights is pure window-dressing and they should be called to account on it.

It is reasonable to hope that the courts will understand, just as Lord Lucas has done - that children are quite capable of making informed decisions about many areas of their lives and that since the government has chosen to give children the right to have their informed views taken seriously, then it behoves adults to stick to their promises and honor that right.

This will all come to a head should Badman's recommendations be implemented. In a recent poll, some 77% of HE children said that they didn't want to meet with LA personnel. This is not an irrational decision. The LA official barely knows them since they only meet once a year, will not be able to make any sort of constructive judgment on their education, will not offer children anything of value, will in the process invade their privacy, infringe their property rights and eradicate their right to freedom of association. All in all, the official will be failing in their duty to promote the welfare of children, as is required under section 175 of the Education Act 2002.

Children might be needing to find themselves some solicitors, methinks.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Badman Review = A Civil Liberties Question

From comments at Liberal Vision

Bishop Hill writes:

"The Badman review proposes that local authorities should have the right to enter the home and interview children without the parents being present. It’s remarkable that there has been so little outcry over this trampling of a fundamental civil liberty - namely the right not to have the state search your premises without a warrant. It’s notable that someone convicted of a crime who has served their sentence cannot have their home entered by officers of the state unless a warrant is obtained. Yet here we are proposing that people who have not been convicted of anything, and are not even suspected of anything, can have their privacy invaded just because someone in a local authority feels like it.

This really isn’t about home education at all. It’s a civil liberties question. Do we want to live in a country where your home can be searched by the state “just in case”?

I think the Bishop is right. The standard for the right of entry is as a rule pretty high:

"It follows that a power of entry should exist only where strict criteria are met. The first main criterion is that the breach of law which the power of entry is intended to prevent or reveal should be relatively serious. Offences of a minor regulatory kind should not require the same enforcement powers as serious criminal offences, and it may be that any power of entry to premises at all would be disproportionate to the relative triviality of the offence. If a power of entry is to exist, it must be shown that the inconvenience and disruption to individual owners and occupiers of premises is outweighed by the necessary benefit to the public – for example, that the power is needed to protect public health or to ensure that public money is not being wasted.

Given that there is absolutely no reason to think that anything criminal, serious or otherwise, is going on in the households of most HEors (these homes are often full of friends and family coming and going,) how can it be argued that Badman's proposed measures are proportionate? The inconvenience and disruption far outweighs the public benefit, since local authorities will end up inspecting thousands of perfectly healthy families at great length and expense whilst social service departments haven't a hope of keeping up with the number of actual cases of abuse that are known to them.

5. The second basic test is that the power of entry should be essential for the effective enforcement of the law in question. Sponsoring Departments should ask themselves whether the law could be enforced without a power of entry and what would happen if there were no such power. Only if it is apparent that a power of entry is a vital element in enforcing the law and that the consequences to the public of not having one would be serious, should a power be included.

We seriously doubt that an occasional visit from a LA authority inspector will reliably detect abuse, in the rare cases where it does exist. Wouldn't it be better to rely on a network of people in the community who actually know the children and the family?

Looks to me as if Badman fails on both counts.



Gill on Badman's Home Education Report

Gill has done some superb work fisking the Badman Review here, here, here, here, here , here and finally here. It isn't at all surprising that it took at least seven posts. There are so many holes in the Badman report, you couldn't use it for a sieve.

The HE Review in Kent on-line

At least the comments make sensible reading.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Lord Lucas

...attempts to amend the Welfare Reform Bill for Home Educators, in the process of which he makes plenty of good points about the reality of home education.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Reducing Unnecessary Bureaucracy

Hmm. Let's see. How could we do that, I wonder? Well, of course we could write to the DCSF and tell them how much unnecessary bureaucracy the Badman recommendations would entail, how little all that make-work would achieve and how much it would hurt.

Monday, June 22, 2009

It's Getting Worse by the Day

Oh goodness....I'm feeling sick, physically sick. I'd just finished reading a shocking story on one of the home education lists, all about the bullying of a home educating family by a local authority, where the family was subjected to what appears to be huge levels of unwarranted suspicion, with the children being asked a string of leading questions, followed by a complete misrepresentation of the facts about the family to other professionals within the LA.

It was just about as bad as you could possibly imagine and the sort of scenario that will almost certainly become much more commonplace if Badman gets his way.

I flicked over to Bloglines and checked out Renegade Parent, only to find this story.

If you weren't feeling pretty blue before, then you almost certainly will be afterwards, and of course that will be held against you, as you are clearly mentally unstable!

Dawn Primarolo, the New Children's Minister

...is asking for your views here:

"Dawn said she was keen to find out what our readers thought should be her priorities in her new role. What would you do if you were children's minister, she wants to know. So here's your chance. Speak up!"

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Survey of Children's Rights

There's a Children's Rights survey for HEks here.

Please ask your children to do it, if they haven't already.

It is due to close on 30th June and the answers from any child who has asked for their responses to be passed on will be collated and published everywhere and available to all home educators/organisations.

We the media will pick up on it as well and get us more interest in our on-going battle.

If you have nothing to hide, you still have plenty to fear

...Part 2.

Interpretation of Current Legislation and Regulation in the Badman Review

We now have Section 3 - Current Legislation and Regulation - from Mr Badman's Report in replicable form, see below.

We suspect that Badman's interpretation of the law is actually pretty loose, and that his recommendations will infringe other areas of legislation which would need re-writing, and will also open the state up to massive liabilities to which the HE community and probably the schooling fraternity will hold them.

But for now, here at least is what he actually said:

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

Current Legislation and Regulation

3.1 As my introductory comments made clear, I am not persuaded that under current regulatory regime that there is a correct balance between the rights of parents and the rights of the child either to an appropriate education or to be safe from harm. That being said, I am not in anyway arguing that elective home education is intrinsically wrong or that within the elective home education community there is not exemplary practice. Indeed, there is strong argument to commission further research to better inform understanding of "personalisation" as an element of student progression and achievement. I shall return to this issue later.

3.2 The question is simply a matter of balance and securing the right regulatory regime within a framework of legislation that protects the rights of all children, even if in transaction such regulation is only necessary to protect a minority.

3.3 The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) gives children and young people over forty substantive rights which include the right to express their views freely, the right to be heard in any legal or administrative matters that affect them and the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas. Article 12 makes clear the responsibility of signatories to give children a voice:

"Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child."

Yet under the current legislation and guidance, local authorities have no right of access to the child to determine or ascertain such views.

3.4 Furthermore Article 28 of the UNCRC recognises the right of the child to an education. Education is compulsory in England and it can be provided at school or "otherwise". The responsibility for the provision of a child's education rests with their parents who also have a duty to ensure that any education provided is "efficient," "full time" and "suitable". This is set out in Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 which provides that:

"The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable—

(a) to his age, ability and aptitude, and

(b) to any special educational needs he may have,

either by regular attendance at school or otherwise."

3.5 The terms "efficient" and "suitable" education are not defined in law, despite the detailed prescription of expectations in schools. Case law has broadly described an "efficient" education as one that "achieves that which it sets out to achieve". A "suitable" education is one that:

"primarily equips a child for life within a community of which is is a member, rather than the way of life in the country as a whole, as long as it does not foreclose the child's options in later years to adopt some other form of life if he wishes to do so."

3.6 This poses a further problem for LAs charged with a statutory duty under section 437 (1) Education Act 1996 in that they are required to intervene:

"If it appears to a local education authority that a child of compulsory school age in their area is not receiving suitable education, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise, they shall serve a notice in wiring on the parent requiring him to satisfy them within the period specified in the notice that the child is receiving a suitable education."

Additionally local authorities have a duty which requires them to

"....make arrangements to enable them to establish (so far as it is possible to do so) the identities of children in their area who are of compulsory school age but -

a) are not registered pupils at a school, and
b) are not receiving suitable education otherwise than at a school."

3.7 Within current guidance local authorities are "encouraged to address the situation informally". Such an approach may or may not be sufficient. How can local authorities know what they don't know with no means of determining the number of children who are being electively home educated in their area, or the quality of what is provided, without rights of access to the child? For many, perhaps the majority of home educating families, this approach may be sufficient. However, I do not believe that such arrangements are sufficiently robust to protect the rights of all children.

3.8 The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHF) Article 2 of Protocol 1 states:

"No person shall be denied the right to education. In the exercise of any functions which it assumes in relation to education and to teaching, the state shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching is in conformity with their own religious an philosophical convictions."

3.9 This Article is much quoted by home educators in defence of their rights as parents to educate their children as they see fit. However, case law on the ECHR challenges any claim that home education is a fundamental right.

" The second sentence of Article 2 (of Protocol 1) must however be read together with the first which enshrines the right of everyone to education. It is on to this fundamental right that is grafted the right of parents to respect for their religious and philosophical convictions. Furthermore, respect is only due to convictions on the part of the parents which do not conflict with the fundamental right of the child to education." 9. BN and SNB v. Sweden no. 17678/91

And

"The Commission notes that the first sentence of Article 2 of Protocol 1 enshrines the fundamental right of the child to education. This right by its very nature calls for regulation by the state, regulation which may vary in time and place according to the needs and resources of the community and of individuals." 10 Leuffen v Germany 19844/92

3.10 In addition, in one exchange of emails during the course of this review, one parent in arguing the case for freedom of home education, cited the words of A.S. Neil:

"The function of the child is to live his own life - not the life that his anxious parents think he should live, nor a life according to the purpose of the educator who thinks he knows best."

This quotation could equally well be applied to home educating parents as the schooling system that A.S. Neil challenged with the curriculum and methodology of Summerhill School.

3.11 This review does not argue against the rights of parents as set out in Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 outlined above, nor their deeply held convictions about education. I believe it would be wrong to seek to legislate in pursuit of an all embracing definition of "suitable". however, such is the demand and complexity of 21st Century society and employment that further thought should be given to what constitutes an appropriate curriculum within the context of elective home education. Such a curriculum must be sufficiently broad and balanced and relevant to enable young people to make suitable choices about their life an likely future employment. Article 29 of the UNCRC states that:

"State Parties agree that the education of the child shall be directed to:

a) The development of the child's personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential;

b) The development of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and for the principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations;

c) The development of respect for the child's parents, his or her own cultural identity, language and values, for the national values of the country in which the child is living, the country from which he or she may originate, and for civilisations different from his or her own;

d) the preparation of the child for responsible life in a free society, in the spirit of understanding, peace, tolerance, equality of sexes, and friendship among all peoples, ethnic, national and religious groups and persons of indigenous origin;

e) The development of respect for the natural environment."

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

It could be argued that adherence to Article 29 would demand further definition of the term "efficient".

3.12 As stated previously, the term "efficient" has been described in case law as an education that "achieves that which it sets out to achieve". On this basis there surely can be no argument against those who choose to educate their children at home being required to articulate their educational approach or "philosophy", intentions and practice and with their child demonstrate is effectiveness. Indeed many do so already. This is not an argument for prescription; on the contrary it is simply an argument that the rights of parents are equally matched by the rights of the child an a recognition of the moral imperative of securing education for all children commensurate with their age, aptitude, ability and any special needs.

In the light of the above, I therefore make the following recommendations.

Recommendation 1.

That the DCSF establishes a compulsory national registration scheme, locally administered, for all children of statutory school age, who are, or become, electively home educated.

This scheme should be common to all local authorities.

Registration should be renewed annually.

Those who are registering for the first time should be visited by the appropriate local authority officer within one month of registration.

Local authorities should ensure that all home educated children and young people already known to them are registered on the new scheme within one month of its inception and visited over the following twelve months, following the commencement of any new legislation.

Provision should be made to allow registration at a local school, children's centre or other public building as determined by the local authority.

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.

National guidance should be issued on the requirements of registration and be made available online and at appropriate public buildings. Such guidance must include a clear statement of the statutory basis of elective home education and the rights and responsibilities of parents.

At the time of registration parents/carers/guardians must provide a clear statement of their educational approach, intent and desired/planned outcomes for the child over the following twelve months.

Guidance should be issued to support parents in this task with an opportunity to meet local authority officers to discuss the planned approach to home education and develop the plan before it is finalised. The plan should be finalised within eight weeks of first registration.

As well as written guidance, support should encompass advice from a range of advisers and organisations, including schools. Schools should regard this support as a part of their commitment to extended schooling.

Where a child is removed from a school roll to be home educated, the school must provide to the appropriate officer of the local authority a record of the child's achievement to date and expected achievement, within 20 school days of the registration, together with any other school records.

Local authorities must ensure that there are mechanisms/systems in place to record and review registrations annually.


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


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.


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

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Mark Field, MP, on Home Education

...just in case you missed it.

and a missive from Michael Gove's office:

"Thank you for your email to Michael Gove regarding home education and the Badman report. He is away visiting schools at the moment, but he has asked me to forward you this reply.

Parental choice is a driving principle of Conservative education policy. I can assure you that this includes the choice to educate your children at home, and that a future Conservative government would fully respect your rights in this area.

We want children to enjoy the highest possible level of protection, and recognise there need to be safeguards. But we do not want to grant Government intrusive or unnecessarily authoritarian powers.

We will aim to keep this balance at the forefront of our thinking as we develop policy in this area.

Yours

xxxxxxx

Office of Michael Gove MP
Shadow Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families

UPDATE: It seems Mark Field isn't the only one to think the Badman recommendations are disporportionate. Home educators are hearing from other Conservative MPs who think his measures are disproportionate and represent the destruction of yet another civil liberty.

Ed Balls and his Expenses

We have to take instruction on how we should raise our children from this man?

Letters to and from the Children's Commissioner's Office

...can be found here.

Choice quote:

"She (the Deputy Children's Commissioner)...is sure that any visits undertaken by the local authority will be done in accordance with the child’s wishes and her best interests."

Cough, splutter, er WHAT? That's interesting in that it defies reality rather more than anything else I've read in relation to this review, which really is saying something.

In a recent poll here, some 77% of HE children said they didn't want to see an LA official at all. The Badman report is insisting upon automatic sight of the child. How then can a visit be in accordance with the child's wishes?

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

My letter to the Children's Commissioner's office.

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

Dear Sir,

I note with interest your office's response to a letter from a home educating family, which may be read here:

http://maire-staffordshire.blogspot.com/2009/06/reply-from-childrenss-commissioner.html

and in which you wrote:

"She (the Deputy Children's Commissioner)...is sure that any visits undertaken by the local authority will be done in accordance with the child’s wishes and her best interests."

The DCC may be interested to know that in a recent poll of home educated children and young people which can be found here:

http://daretoknowblog.blogspot.com/2009/03/results-of-poll.html

some 77% of children said they did not want to see an LA official.

The DCC needs to know this in order that she may be disabused of the notion that in insisting upon the state having sight of the child, far from protecting children's rights, she will, in the majority of cases, actually be condoning the infringement of children's rights to privacy, freedom of association, to silence and to the ownership of intellectual property.

It would be very easy to run another poll along similar lines to the one mentioned above, this time to see if home educated children think it would be in their best interests to see an LA official. I suspect, from many conversations with HE children, that most HE children would not think that there was anything to be gained from such a visit, that it would simply be a stressful waste of their time and that it would therefore not be in their best interests.

We would be interested to know if the DCC is effectively suggesting that parents should not strive to protect their children's rights and best interests?

Yours sincerely,

xxxxxxxxxx

Thursday, June 18, 2009

If You Need Cheering Up

...read the letters both to and from Labour MP, Kate Hooey here. She clearly has a good grasp of the issues.

A New Petition

The government does not appear to have taken the thrust of the last petition seriously. (No surprise there then!) They wrote in response to the petition:

"The review of home education does not threaten a parent’s right to educate their child at home."

Well, no, but it does threaten to take away parental responsibility for the education and welfare of children, since the state looks as if it is about to dictate the standards that HE children must meet in these regards. It must therefore accept liability when these standards are not met.

However that petition did serve to raise awareness amongst plenty of otherwise less engaged HEors as well as some members of the wider population and therefore served a quite considerable purpose.

Hot on the heels of the review, we see some more petitions being created, the best of these being this one which needs your signature:

"We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to reject the Report to the Secretary of State on the Review of Elective Home Education in England by Graham Badman.

"This report is a totally disproportionate response to a 'perceived' problem full of unsubstantiated allegations that home educated children are more at risk than those at school. This is simply not true and enacting the recommendations in this report would establish the state as parent of first resort. To allow LA staff access to private homes to interview children without their parents when there is no reason to suspect abuse is outrageous."

Apprenticeship and Skills Bill

The Guardian has the story on the draconian powers proposed.

Carol Sarler in the Daily Mail

The Daily Mail has an article that could have done with a little more research! Let's see if we can help.

Carol Sarler wrote:

"The county council, in a quiet, rural area of England, couldn't believe its luck. A troubled teenager in care (let us call him John) had just been thrown out of the last of a dozen schools. But just when everyone thought there were no options left, along came the perfect solution: a couple, volunteering to foster him.

Mary and Daniel (not their real names either) had never sent their own daughters to school. Mary was an evangelising home schooler, convinced she could make a better fist of it than state or private schools.

Reading, writing, maths .. . oh yes, and sex. That's right. When John was 15, Mary took him as her lover. "

Let's be clear here. This is, yet again (see the Spry case), not a home education issue: it is a FOSTERING issue. Given that they were fostering, this family should already have been closely scrutinized by social services, John should already have had a nominated social worker who would have talked to him alone to get his views, and yet the SS still failed to pick up on the abuse. Doesn't this just suggest that state intervention is just a woefully inept way of unearthing abuse?

Further, it is highly unlikely that a boy like "John" who was clearly already so disaffected with the school system would have actually revealed his problems to anyone had he still been in school.

"My point, of course, is not to suggest that all home-schoolers are abusers. But it is to say that they could be and, if they are, they stand a better chance than most of getting away with it."

I would again strongly suggest that Carol's supposition could do with a bit more research, since it is my actual experience that all home educating families I've ever met where I have had even the slightest concern that there may have been a hint of abuse in some shape or form, be it mild emotional, moral neglect or physical neglect, (and it is a very small proportion of the number of HEing families I have met over all), have rapidly ended up being referred to social services, often by relatives, by other HEors, or by someone in the community.

Indeed it is also my experience that there are large numbers of utterly spurious referrals of HE families to Social Services often by people who do not understand that HE is legal or that it often looks very different to a school-based education. The reality is that HE families are actually highly conspicuous. Unless they really make huge attempts to isolate themselves, in which case, we really doubt that they will come forward to register themselves, these families are known to their wider families, to their neighbours, and usually to the community at large. There is already a much lower barrier for concern precisely because of the general perception that HE children could be at risk, and therefore there are far more referrals of HE children than school children.

"If only this once, Ed Balls is quite right to propose regular, rigorous checks on everyone who educates children out of school, in exactly the same way that we check on those who educate within them. "

How can this be inferred from the story you tell? Firstly, doesn't it suggest that a higher level of state intervention than is currently being proposed by Ed Balls still doesn't reliably detect abuse? And doesn't it also suggest that we should focus on potentially vulnerable cases, such as fostering situations, instead of wasting money screening thousands of completely healthy families who just want to be left alone by the state?

" - but the adults involved have a tendency to be proselytising zealots. "

Thanks for the ad hominem, Carol. Check the wiki on logical fallacies for reasons why it is a poor way to argue. However, in response to the accusation, let me explain to you why it may be hard not to sound like a proselytising zealot in this situation.

Our local secondary is highly praised by Ofsted, is meant to be a beacon school with a special headmaster, and yet every child we know who goes there has been involved in physical violence of some sort, including having fingers slammed in loo doors, faces smashed against mirrors, being pushed downstairs, and having face pulverised in a free-for-all playground fight.

Another now home educated boy we know had his cheek bone and arm broken and was locked in a wheelie bin for over three hours in another neighbouring secondary school. Great second option!

To return to our local school just for a mo: hard drugs are readily available in it, knives are regularly carried by pupils, and whilst it is not one of the 1 in 2 schools to openly claim it has a problem with gang culture, gangs do form in the school and then roam our town, dealing hard drugs and generally intimidating people, and causing criminal damage.

Further the educational standards in these schools are so unambitious. They almost certainly don't do better than the national average whereby one in six children leave school unable to read, write or add up.

You write:

"We can all see why parents are critical of some of our schools: bullying, knives, drugs and shocking exam results are off-putting. But we can't all see - certainly I can't - how they conclude that the answer is simply to opt out."

What else would you suggest then? Gang culture was identified as a significant problem in schools way back in 2005. Things haven't got any better as far as we can see. Drugs and violence are still readily available in our local school.

One 13 year old child we know, previously a gentle kid from an educated family, but who has fallen in with the wrong crowd in the school, has already been threatened with an ASBO for intimidating an elderly neighbour. He truants and is falling behind in his lessons. His parents are very concerned, fully engaged, trying to improve the situation with regular communication with the school, and yet nothing seems to be changing. The child is simply becoming ever more disenchanted and disengaged. What now would you suggest in this situation? Why, if you don't have to, and do have a better option, would you not take it? Home education isn't a question of opting out. Rather it is actually taking full responsibility for the education and welfare of your child.

Further on how hard it is not to be a proselytizing zealot: I concede that it is hard not to appear angry - very angry that the state can set up such a woeful education system, then routinely lies about it's performance. It's hard not to be angry about the state's claim that they want to decentralise the system and then almost immediately proposes to do precisely the reverse. It is hard to accept that one has to be scrutinized for standards by these very same people.

"For, if the interests of children are paramount, I do not believe those interests can be properly served by home schooling. For a start, unless they are the rarest of polymath, it is hard to credit that one person can adequately teach all subjects. "

Do your homework on this Carole. REALLY. Most parents can do a pretty good job up to GCSE and if they do get stuck, there are thousands of options for filling the information gap. For example, in case you haven't noticed, we do happen to live in the information age, which should in reality make you question the on-going necessity of schools. People can take an on-line course in pretty much anything nowadays. In my own HE experience, we have received advice and information from some top specialists in their subjects in the entire world, and my son is still only 12. Most schooled children will not get such individualised support.

And don't JUST DON'T say my children will be a cloistered, isolated, unsocialised child because I will tell you now that you would be flat WRONG. They spend SOOOOO much time in the company of all sorts of other people it is sometimes hard to find time to do everything else. You should also know that many schooled children FAR prefer to come and see my children than play with their own classmates, and we routinely find that these children need to wind down from their deviant behaviour for 20 minutes when they first arrive here, and my son and daughter gently steer these poor kids towards a more civilised way of relating.

"One parent airily told me that it's only a matter of 'keeping one chapter ahead' in the textbooks, but you still have to be able to understand that chapter yourself. From history to French to chemistry? All the way to A level? "

If the child can't manage it on their own, (and we have seen some children managing maths A level entirely on their own), and a parent can't help, what with on-line support, or simply by reading a textbook and thinking about it, we do have the option of using tutors: HEors share the hire of tutors in everything from Mandarin to higher maths. Yet again, Carole, PLEASE do your research, and Daily Mail, please try to impose stricter editorial controls and a higher standard of fact-checking.

"In an effort to do precisely that, many home schoolers become obsessive. Prodigies are turned out, famously Ruth Lawrence and Sufiah Yusof: both were taught by their fathers and accepted by Oxford at the age of 12, but each had to escape her family before she could get herself a life. "

What? What many? I haven't actually met ANY hot housing HEors in all my time, and I have met hundreds of HEing families. How many have you met Carole? There are some high performers, but they were high performers anyway, and weren't pushed to be high performers.

"One thing that all home schoolers will tell you, smug to get it in before you ask, is that their children aren't isolated. Far from it. They go to great lengths to make sure they interact with other children. I'm sure they do. But, crucially, the playmates are, of necessity, chosen by the parents. "

Wrong again Carol. (Ed, please intervene here!). HE children do mix a great deal with others and neither they, nor their parents necessarily decide who with. They go to open meetings and after-school classes where any Tom, Dick or Harry could and does turn up. This is no different to school children.

"There's no chance for their children - as there is for those who attend the big, wide pool of a school - to pick or choose 'unsuitable' friends and to learn, perhaps the hard way, how to evaluate other people. "

Oh goodness. This is just so woefully wrong and ignorant that I give up. No, stay calm: let me tell you Carol that my children are amongst the best judges of character that I could ever hope to meet. They have a calm objectivity that doesn't have a chance to grow in many schooled children for whom the default position is to assume that someone is going to lie or hurt you. They meet and deal with some extremely tricky characters in the course of their everyday life and they learn to deal with them extremely well. Walking away from bullies is an option for most adults. It should be an option for children too, otherwise you are not preparing them for the real world.

"And if the home-schooled are isolated from other children, it is equally disturbing that they are isolated from other adults and educational professionals."

What? I thought you realised that HE kids, as a general rule, aren't isolated from such people. Sigh, here we go again: most HE children go to after-school classes of one sort or another. My own children attend five classes where the Every Child Matters agenda, with its implications for teachers, hangs on every classroom wall. They DO come across these people.

As for concerns about Molly and her husband, I think these too have been overplayed, since had this couple remained in this country, it is highly likely, given the husband's criminal record, that they would already be known to the authorities. Should they choose to have children, the system would already work to safeguard them, whether in school or home educated.

Ed Balls' Letter to Graham Badman

In copiable form. Original here:

11th June 2009

Dear Graham,

Review of Elective Home Education in England

Thank you for your Review of Elective Home Education which you submitted to me on 1 June and which covered the terms of reference included in Annex A to your report. I welcome this comprehensive and thoughtful review which has taken account of more than 2000 submissions from home educating parents, as well as contributions from 90 local authorities (LAs) and many other organisations and individuals that work with home educating families.

The terms of reference asked you to investigate the barriers LAs and other public agencies face in carrying out their safeguarding responsibilities; whether LAs were providing effective and appropriate support; and whether there was evidence of home education being used as a 'cover' for child abuse. You were also asked to analyse whether home educating families were appropriately supported by their LAs and too advise whether any changes are needed to the current regime for monitoring home education.

The Written Ministerial Statement presented to the House today recognises that your review presents strong arguments for change to existing arrangements in order to strike a better balance between the rights of children and parents. Your review recommends that the relationship between home educators and LAs has to be placed on a different footing, with LAs providing more support to enrich the opportunities open to home educated children and ensure they achieve the outcomes set out in "Every Child Matters". Your review describes a relationship within which mutual respect and understand enable parents and LAs to work together in the best interests of children. I am aware that the review identified encouraging good practice from which we can learn, but that we need to explore how all LAs can reach or exceed the best practice you observed.

I accept all the recommendations in your report that call for urgent action to improve safeguards for home educated children and we will introduce these as soon as possible, subject to identifying funding and workable delivery arrangements. We will consider how best to respond to your other recommendations as we will need to work through their implementation and resource implications.

Improving safeguards for home educated children.

You make a compelling case for immediate and urgent reforms to ensure all home educated children are known to and monitored by local authorities, and that there is a proportionate focus on ensuring these children are safe. I am reassured that your review found no evidence that home education is being used to cover up forced marriage, servitude or child trafficking, but we are also concerned about evidence presented to you by LAs and others which details a significant number of cases where there are - or have been - safeguarding concerns about home educated children. I also note that you found that in some authorities, the numbers of home educated children known to children's services because of safeguarding or other concerns, are disproportionately high relative to the overall numbers being home educated in their areas."

"The review recommends that all home educated children are registered with their LA. The purpose of registration is twofold: it will ensure that any safeguarding concerns are identified at the point home education begins, and it will check that parents have realistic plans in place to provide home educated children with a suitable education. A key feature of registration is that where there are safeguarding concerns, children will no longer be able to be home educated.

We accept that LAs need greater powers to monitor home educated children to confirm they are safe and receiving a suitable education. The current arrangements only require LAs to make enquiries to satisfy themselves that a suitable education is probing provided,: they have no powers to insist that any evidence is presented. We do not think that this provides suffic9ient reassurance that home educated children are safe and receiving a suitable education. We agree that home educated children must be seen regularly in their education setting, on their own, or with an independent person present as appropriate, so the LA can verify that the evidence of progress presented to them is up-to-date and accurate and confirm that these children are safe.

In line with your review's recommendations, we are today launching a consultation on changes to the existing statutory arrangements for home education, which will introduce a range of safeguards for home educated children. We will introduce the changes at the earliest possible opportunity, taking account of consultation responses.

The review also recommended better monitoring information and stronger accountability through the Children's Trust and Local Safeguarding Children's Board as important means of promoting the well-being of home educated children. We accept these recommendations in principle, subject to the outcomes of additional work we will do on costs and delivery mechanisms. Your recommendations on information sharing between the different parts of the local authority will be implemented through the revision of Working Together to Safeguard Children which is to be developed by the end of the year.

Better support for home educating families

The review puts forward a persuasive case for better support for home educating families. It recommends that LAs provide support to help families prepare for home education, and that DCSF sets out more clearly the kinds of practical arrangements that should be made. Specifically, it asks DCSF to review the current definitions of "efficient" and "suitable" education in a way that is pragmatic and that supports home educated children in receiving a broad, balanced, relevant and differentiated curriculum. It recommends better training for LAs officers engaged in supporting or monitoring home education, and also that Ofsted monitors LA performance with regard to their support for home educating families.

The review goes on to recommend that LAs should offer a menu of support to home educating families, such as access to examination centres and payment of examination fees, sports facilities, post-14 vocational opportunities, work experience, and music tuition.

We agree there is more to be done in providing support to home educating families, including better access to wider public services. However, this is a difficult and sensitive area, given the wide range of approaches to home education that the review team observed, and uncertainties over the number of home educated children and the demand for services. We accept there are difficulties for home educators and other learners - including adults - in accessing the examination system and we are committed to finding a resolution to these problems.

Home educated children with special educational needs. (SEN)

LAs already have a range of duties and powers that cover children with SEN who are home educated. However, evidence submitted to the review suggests these duties and powers are not consistently applied. We will therefore issue non-statutory guidance to LAs so they are clear about the way in which their existing responsibilities apply to home educated children. In addition, you will be aware that Brian Lamb, the Chair of the Special Educational Consortium, is conducting an inquiry into parental confidence in the WSEN system. I am asking Brian to take account of your review in his final report in September and also for Ofsted to report on any issues relating to home educated children in its own review of SEN should they arise. That review is due to report in summer 20 10. I will also ask Ofsted to consider conducting a survey of this particular group in their next survey programme in 2010-11. On the basis of any recommendations arising from this work we will consider whether there should be changes to the SEN framework to provide more support to parents who are home educating children with SEN.

We are taking decisive action today to tackle the immediate safeguarding concerns highlighted in your review. However, we recognise there is far more to be done to nurture a more positive relationship between LAs and home educating families. Building a consensus around this new approach will take time, energy and goodwill. It will need to be done gradually, not least through identifying, evaluating and disseminating good practice.

We are acting immediately to address the review's recommendations on safeguarding by issuing a consultation on new statutory arrangements today. We want to reflect further on all of the recommendations in the review so that we have a better understanding of the practical issues and financial impact of implementation. We will publish a fuller response to the individual recommendations by the end of September 2009.

Yours sincerely,

Ed Balls."

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The View of a Schooling Parent

Jennie Bristow, writing in Spiked On-line, explains the importance of the implications of the Badman recommendations for every parent everywhere.

"...the idea that there should be no opt-out available – that all parents have no choice but to submit to official control over their children’s education – cuts to the heart of the question of parental autonomy. The acceptance that parents can choose to educate their children themselves if they want to is a tacit recognition that state education is a service that parents can access for the benefit of their families. The new proposals shift that balance of power, so that state-monitored education becomes something that all children must receive – and in the case of home schooling, parents are mere practitioners, delivering an officially approved scheme of work. This means that the scope for parents to decide that, actually, the curriculum or teaching practice on offer within schools is not the best for their child, becomes much more limited."

and:

"For all the nonsense talked about choice in education, our only real choice as parents comes from the knowledge that if our children’s schooling becomes really bad, we can always pull them out of it."

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Bloggers and MSM Links on the Badman Review

Adam Smith Institute
Alfred the Ordinary (Detailed critique. Suggests Badman should look to US not Europe)
Bishop Hill (on Human Rights)
Bishop Hill (An Englishman's Home is his Castle)
Blogdial
CentreRight (Mark Field on New Labour casting away yet another civil liberty)
Children are People (A letter to an MP)
Douglas Carswell, MP (on Ed Ball's motivations)
Douglas Carswell on the EDM
Educating Outside the Box (on Badman's twisting of the UNCRC)
Frabjous Days
Freedom for Children to Grow
Grit's Day (on why she is a failure - according to Mr Badman, that is)
HSLDA on how the UNCRC has been manipulated by Graham Badman and the UK gov't
Homeschooler.org. (a summary of the implications of the Badman review)
James Bartholemew (What's wrong with the government inspecting all home schoolers)
Liberal Vision (on the Lib Dems pov)
Libertarian Alliance
Lord Lucas (seeking constructive suggestions...let's be creative folks!)
Making it Up (a letter to John Gummer)
Making it Up (on what we can do about the report)
Mark Field (They Work for You.)
The Melangerie
Nothing Exceptional (Reasons to be angry re the review)
Our Story So Far (on the implications for schooling families of the Badman Report).
Panoptican
Patch of Puddles (What the Review will really mean: putting the Schooling between Children and Families)
Peter Hitchens (on the Jack Boot of the state)
Ragged Edge (An Open Letter to Ed Balls)
Reflections in the Green House
Renegade Parent
Roland Meighan's Response to the Badman Review
Schoolhouse Press Release
Sometimes it's Peaceful
Spiked Online
Staffordshire (Letter to MP)
The State I'm In (on how the Review might affect Welsh HEors)
The Telegraph Blog
UKIP
West End Extra

Other press reports:

BBC 1 News with Ann Newstead and Josh (You Tube)
BBC website - (Balls Defends Plan)
Brighton Argus: on the Brighton Bubble Event
Brighton Argus: Dani's Comment.
CYPNow quoting Josh, Rowan and Freya
CYPNow on HEYC visit to DCSF
CYPNow on HE parent's anger at right of entry
More 4 News with Ann Newstead (You Tube)
The Guardian
The Guardian Clampdown on home schoolers won't help children
The Guardian ...on how the Badman proposals are driving HEors NOTB.
The BBC
Children and Young People's Daily Bulletin
The Times
The Times (with comments explaining the situation re HEors being known to SS)
The Mail
The Independent (on AE)
The Independent (on the now debunked Badman claim that HE children are twice as likely to be on at risk registers.)
The Independent: Sue Cardus's response
The Telegraph (government's appetite for control).
The Telegraph (report re Badman review).
The Telegraph (Tom Hodgkinson of the Idler groks HE).
Community Care
Kent On-Line
Kent On-Line
Leicestershire
This is Oxfordshire
Politics.Co.UK (James Arbuthnot, MP Cons signs the EDM).
Washington Times (Homeschooling losing ground all over Europe...UNCRC, Badman, Sweden, Germany)