Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Guardian Gets a Fail for its Reporting of the Select Committee Hearing on Home Education

If you should still happen to need another good reason why you should abandon even the broadsheets in favour of the evolving, critically-evaluated information that spills from the internet, you need go no further than this extraordinarily ill-informed, misleading and in places pure darn stupid piece in the Guardian.

Ill-informed because there is absolutely NO WAY that there is ANY SUBSTANTIAL evidence for the statement that HE children are four times more likely as young adults to be out of work, education or training than those who go to school. This figure is a NONSENSE. The fact that someone (ie: Graham Badman) has said it, and even that MPs have been told it (in the Select Committee meeting yesterday), does not make it a reality and it wouldn't take much research to realise that the statement just doesn't stand up. One's suspicions should be sufficiently aroused when one reads that two LAs report that 100% of previously HE children are NEETs! (I am yet to have visited such a place. Perhaps there is an island off the coast of England that I have somehow not heard about yet.)

The fact is that home educators have no duty to tell LAs or the Connexions service what their children are doing post 16, so half the time, the LA simply doesn't know. Teens often carry on home educating past their 16th birthdays and yet LAs have no idea what is going on and can merrily class them as NEETs in a bid to get themselves the power they think they want to invade the homes of the innocent.

Pure darn stupid because 270 is not 2.2% of 1,220! If Jessica Shepherd had actually got the figures as quoted by Mr Badman, perhaps she might have questioned them herself!

Ill-informed, because there is HUGE debate over the accuracy of the 0.4% figure, as indeed one of the MPs on the committee pointed out. This figure should not be quoted as fact and this because Mr Badman doesn't have a clue how big the HE population is, he therefore cannot say that the rate of abuse in it is twice as high as the rest of the population. His contention is that there will be an equivalent amount of undiscovered abuse in the rest of the HE population. My contention (based on considerable experience of mixing with HEors, known and unknown, gregarious and otherwise), is that the numbers of undiscovered abuse cases in the remaining population of HEors will be vanishingly small, since HEors are SO conspicuous that if there is any worry about them at all, (and often-times even when there is absolutely no concern about them, but that someone doesn't realise that HE is a real option), these families get referred to social services. HEors must be some of the most over-referred group of families in the country. Indeed, we attend an HE group where my family is the ONLY ONE which hasn't been UTTERLY SPURIOUSLY referred to SS at some stage or other!

Misleading because even if it is really true that HE children are twice as likely to be known by social services, it is still, nonetheless, a tiny proportion of the whole population of HEors. We are talking here about justifying huge amounts of intervention and invasion of privacy of completely innocent and hard-working families on the justification of there being 0.4% of children at risk. Now tell me, is that really a proper use for your hard-earned tax money?

Now here's an idea. Why not actually concentrate on dealing with the problems with children known to be at risk, staff you social work offices properly, retain experienced staff who know what they are doing, and stop interferring with tens of thousands of others who would be far better off without this intervention?

My letter to the Guardian's education editor is here.

Other bloggers on the same or closely related subjects:

Renegade Parent

The Adam Smith Institute

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Has anyone complained to Sir Michael Scholar (http://www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/about-the-authority/meet-the-board/sir-michael-scholar-kcb/index.html), head of the UK Statistics Authority, about Badman's "statistics"? He's known to take a dim view of basing government decisions on erroneous statistics. He might point out to the DCSF the errors in the "analysis" of the figures they have, and his verdict would probably carry more weight than that of home educators.

Sorry about the inverted commas above, but I can't bring myself to refer to them as though they were factual in the context of the Badman report. My home educated 11yo can spot the gaping flaws which render them utterly meaningless. I hope the Select Committee can.