In January 2009, the UK Government tasked former science teacher Graham Badman to assess whether the current system of “supporting and monitoring home education” in England was effective. His subsequent report was published on 11 June.
Despite being described by the DCSF as “independent”, the published report betrays a disturbing level of partiality, which suggests its recommendations were predicated on prejudice alone without reference to any hard evidence, let alone the many hundreds of consultation responses received.
The Minister’s simultaneous response indicating the UK Government’s acceptance of the proposals in full has only served to confirm the widely held belief that Badman’s review was simply a rubber stamping exercise whose outcome had been determined from the outset by the DCSF.
Most of the recommendations are in blatant contravention of the Human Rights Act and the report itself is both poorly researched and badly written. Proposals include: compulsory registration (so what was ContactPoint all about then?); monitoring; automatic right of entry to private family homes; access to, and interrogation by state agents of, children (alone, without their parents); and the enforcement of minimum standards of education, whatever that might mean.
Autonomous home educators have been singled out for special discriminatory treatment by this tick box tyrant. Despite patient explanations by many practising autonomous home educators and the existence of robust supporting research by Alan Thomas and others, he has still spectacularly failed to grasp any model of education which does not resemble the “command and control” schooling system to which he and his ilk have condemned countless children throughout their rent-seeking careers.
Not only do these proposals affect all home educators, regardless of their approach and philosophy, but they also infringe the civil liberties of all parents and children and essentially alter the nature of the relationship between citizen and state. Ever the opportunist, Ed Balls also used the report’s publication to underline the UK Government’s commitment to streamlining universal child and family surveillance across Europe, even making reference to Nazi Germany’s outlawing of home education in the 1930s as a chilling reminder of his party’s sinister anti family agenda.
The Westminster Government has less than 12 months of its term to run and it is now a foregone conclusion that Labour will be routed at the general election. The unholy haste with which the latest sham consultation on these proposals has been announced is most likely a reflection of how urgently they view the need to abolish home education for all but the rich, since it has become too successful an alternative to the state school brainwashing machine.
Our own community forums, blogs and and other independent media are buzzing with discussion and debate on various aspects of the report as home educators take stock and decide what their responses will be. Diversity may be a dirty word to Balls and Badman, but Just Say No is coming across as a front running collective response from the “united in diversity” home education community to government attempts to nationalise all our children. Whatever happens, local authorities will soon find their budgets completely shot as demands for “services” from home educators increase exponentially and serve to deplete already scarce resources which would be better spent on frontline services to the most vulnerable children.
Meanwhile, Scotland is bracing itself for an influx of educational refugees as the report only applies to home education in England. The Scottish SNP Government’s track record in consulting with its citizens, including home educators, has been exemplary by comparison and it has confirmed it has no plans to launch a similar review.
Note to mainstream meeja:
Don’t call us, we’ll call you. We prefer to state our position via press releases, blogs, articles and forums posts without the “assistance” of spin from state sponsored mouthpieces.