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.