Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Number of HE Children Known to Social Services

...is disproportionately high, according to the consultation documents:

"1.3 The review found no evidence that home education was used to cover forced marriage, servitude, or trafficking other than in isolated cases. However, the reviewer was provided with evidence showing that the number of home educated children known to Children's Social Services in some LAs was disproportionately high relative to the size of their home educating population. "

Couple this with the assertion, also contained in the consultation documents, that local authorities think they only know about a small proportion of home educated children, and you wonder if these people really should be given the powers to tell us whether our maths provision is acceptable or not!

It is the experience of many HEors that there are several reasons why a high proportion of those known to LAs are also known to SS, the principal ones being the significant number of children with special educational needs, spurious referrals by schools following deregistration and totally unnecessary calls put in by neighbours, relatives and sundry other busy-bodies who are usually just ignorant about HE.

Then there is the fact that if you were to take the maths seriously (which we doubt you should), you could derive a vastly different message to the one the Badman report seeks to imply. As Badman seems to want to have it, the high proportion suggests that HE children are more likely to be at risk of being at risk. However, the opposite message could be derived from the same facts: that HE children, being in an unusually conspicuous and often misunderstood position, are already much more likely to be screened for abuse and should thereby already much less likely than schooled children to be suffering from it.

We have consistently told the Badman review that in our experience, the tiny proportion of HE children who are indeed at risk of even only mild levels of abuse, (say emotional and moral neglect) do, one way or another, get referred to SS. This happens without the unnecessary expense of intruding upon thousands of healthy families, destroying privacy and ignoring children's rights in the process.


Jax said...

I think this is a point that we need to hammer home over and over again, along with the harm of false positives, and the increased risk to any and all children at harm of increasing the workload of the child protection services by assuming that our children are all at risk.

That is effectively what they are saying, that home education is a sufficient risk factor to employ all child protection techniques currently only used when a child is in danger of immediate harm.

It's beyond insulting.

Lisa G said...

We are known to social services because of my dd's special needs and through the EWO, I don't currently have a problem with that, they don't interfere and have brought up no concerns about home ed. I am incredibly insulted however that that fact could be twisted to imply my dd is more at risk of abuse and it is beyond disgusting that Badman brought this up in the review at all, especially without a qualifying statement or explanation. Don't tell me he doesn't know the reasons why as he certainly knows a high proportion of home ed children have special needs, it was a cynical ploy to draw in support and it certainly got some of the newspapers including The Times.

Carlotta said...

Hi Lisa,

Lol...the fact that you, YOU of all people, (the most articulate, intelligent, capable, educated, kind, compassionate individual)are known to social services could only possibly suggest in the strongest possible way that Badman's stat is a load of BUNKUM

Bishop Hill said...

Has someone put in a FoI request for the evidence Badman says he has?

Anonymous said...

I know an HE family whose child has a condition since birth. He ends up in hosptial because of this condition sometimes and every time he goes they report him to SS because they have no school to report his illness to...


shena.deuchars said...

An FoI request has been put in by A White:

Anonymous said...

The authorities need to be careful when trying to force children into school. They need to be more certain than they are today that they are not putting them 'out of the frying pan and into the fire'.

It could be argued very convincingly that school exposes the child to more potential abusers. I know personally of a school where the caretaker managed to abuse inumerable girls before he was caught, and there are countless others with similar events. I spoke today to a special needs' teacher who had evidence that a girl she was teaching was sexually abused by her parents. She was extremely distressed because it took the head master and social services more than six months to react to the situation.

It seems likely that they need to make school a safer place than it currently is before they can conclude that the overall risk to a child at home is greater than to a child attending school. Their energies would be better spent elsewhere. One reason that they are wasting their time with this report and with implementing change is that it is easier than improving school and removes a comparison that puts schools to shame.


Jeremy said...

FoI requests are likely to be ignored for a long time, then rejected.

Example: I made a request asking who made the "claims" linking home education and abuse in the press release of 19th January.

The DCSF ignored my request for four full months (despite the 20 working day limit for responses stipulated in the Act, and despite the intervention of the Information Commissioner's Office after about seven weeks). They then rejected it under Section 35(1)(a) because it "relates to the formulation or development of government policy".

Firebird said...

They're rejecting a perfectly justifiable request for proof because there IS NO proof. They're lying through their teeth plain and simple.