Monday, July 20, 2009

Trying to Ascertain the Facts

Home educators have been trying to ascertain the facts that have underpinned repeated claims in the media that Mr Badman has reported that "children educated at home are twice as likely to be on social services registers for being at risk of abuse as the rest of the population".

We do need to be clear on this issue since many of Mr Badman's recommendations appear to be premised on the notion that HE children are at increased risk, and yet we find no basis at all to support the above assertion, which neither features in his review, nor seems to be what he directly asked of local authorities in either of the two LA questionnaires, nor what AHEd has discovered by asking the direct question of LAs using Freedom of Information Requests.

Home educators felt that in order to resolve this uncertainty it would be helpful to see the evidence that Mr Badman had seen. Sadly this is proving difficult. The news is that the DCSF are refusing to release information about the responses to the review from the consultees listed in Annex B at least for another 20 days. Their reasoning:

"The Department holds information within scope of your requests but it is being withheld because the following qualified exemption, requiring a public interest test, is engaged:

Section 38(1)(a) and (b) this section provides that information is exempt if its disclosure under the Act would, or would be likely, to

(a) endanger the physical or mental health of any individual; or

(b) endanger the safety of any individual.

The Department has strong reason to expect that one or both of these consequences would result from release.

This exemption is however subject to the public interest test which means that even where prejudice or likely prejudice can be demonstrated, it is still necessary to consider whether in all the circumstances of the case the public interest in withholding the information outweighs the public interest in disclosure. "

Whilst ruling out the possibility of the HE community posing a physical risk to anybody as a result of the receipt of a response (as this is simply ridiculous), it would be helpful to know if the HE community is supposed to be considered a risk to the mental health of either Mr Badman or the consultees.

If it is Mr Badman who is considered at risk of mental injury, we believe that this should rule him out as a reasonable candidate for undertaking public works. He must have known when he undertook such a public role that he would effectively becomes a public figure, and therefore should expect to have to deal with satire? If not, he is not the man for the job, and the review should be scrapped, for it would effectively mean that the evidence he collected could not be submitted to proper scrutiny.

If we are talking about mental injury to the consultees, surely the risk of this happening could easily be removed entirely by deleting anything that might identify the consultee from their response?

We do need to know the evidence. If the DCSF continue to hide the evidence they have obtained, it will only increase speculation that they actually don't have evidence on which to base Mr Badman's proposed policy changes.

See also Corvidae Corner, Renegade Parent, Grit's Day.

UPDATE: There is another outstanding FOI request here (response from DCSF due by 27th July) which should, if answered, help to resolve some of the problems with our lack of data. Let's hope the DCSF do choose to do the right thing and reveal the stats.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, Badman's panicking about the effect on his future career when the truth gets out. So it does endanger someone's mental health.

Anonymous said...

I heard today that Mr Badman and his family had received death threats as a result of his review.


Firebird said...

Not impossible but I'd be very surprised if we ever see any evidence or any prosecutions, as there should be if these claims are true. Given how many other bogus claims have come from Badman and the DCSF I'm inclined not to believe a word of it.

Maire said...

Darren, could you say where you heard that?


Anonymous said...

Maire, I think it would sensible of me to check with the person who told me first.
I think this is fairly common knowledge as there was some talk on the renegade parent blog of Badman being harrassed.
I do not know the origin of the information though.


@untwining said...

@Darren - I was just quoting from the letter published on the "What Do They Know" site, which cites vilification and harrassment. I am not aware of any individual's attempts to harrass or vilify; I had assumed that the DCSF allegations were specifically in relation to the legitimate criticism, analysis and satire that has been published online since June.

Carlotta said...

Thanks for the clarification Renegade Parent.

The situation as it stands: we hear that the DCSF have made allegations that Mr Badman has been harrassed and vilified. We are not sure whether this is actually the case, or what the DCSF consider to be harrassment and vilification.

There is no confirmed information concerning death threats.

In the current circumstances, it would seem sensible to publish the required information, for not to do so risks increasing speculation that Mr Badman was simply making things up, or allowing the press to report wildly inaccurate statistics which will surely only exacerbate criticism of the report and the report's author.

It would be far better to lay this to rest by giving us the raw data.

Tech said...

Actually, what the DSCF are saying is that *there have been ATTEMPTS to TRY to harass and vilify* - isn't that altogether different than *Badman has been harassed and vilified?*.

I'd be VERY surprised if he or his family had received death threats, particularly as his own daughter was recently goading Home Educators on the facebook group.

Anonymous said...

That's interesting. It's possible that what they call 'attempts' to vilify are just people saying the truth about his poor powers of logic.