Thursday, October 08, 2009

Letter to the Guardian about the Select Committee Article

Dear Sir/Madam, (

I am writing with regard to your article with the appallingly inaccurate headline: "Children educated at home at severe disadvantage, study shows".

The study in question (ie: some extremely hastily gathered and untested statistics which were pulled together from some biased sources in the past couple of weeks in order to bolster some other already highly questionable statistics that were due for scrutiny to the Children, Schools and Families Select Committee), reliably shows no such thing.

For example, there is no reliable evidence whatsoever 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 highly likely, on further examination, to turn out to be a nonsense.

The fact is that home educators have no duty to tell LAs or the Connexions service what their children are doing post 16. HE 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.

The article is also embarrassing on a more basic level, because 270 is not 2.2% of 1,220! If Jessica Shepherd had actually got the figures as quoted by Mr Badman, perhaps she would have questioned them herself!

Your article is ill-informed on yet another issue, because there is actually a 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 and 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.

Your article is also 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 get the Guardian to encourage the DCSF to actually concentrate on dealing with real problems - with children known to be at risk? Why don't your journalists urge the Department to staff social work offices properly and to create conditions conducive to the retention of experienced staff, and why not do your utmost to prevent the state from interfering in the private lives of tens of thousands of otherwise well-functioning families who would be far better off without this intervention?

Yours faithfully.

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