Saturday, 20 June 2009

Our Letter to the Head of the Civil Service

Sir Gus O'Donnell
Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Home Civil Service
Cabinet Office
70 Whitehall

Dear Sir Gus O’Donnell

Conduct of the Review of Elective Home Education

The Department for Children, Schools and Families recently published its Review of Elective Home Education in England. The Review, which was conducted by Graham Badman, appears to be in breach of both the Nolan Committee's ‘The Seven Principles of Public Life’ and the Civil Service Code. Clearly, these are serious allegations and, if correct, undermine the legitimacy of, and public trust in, the Review and its conclusions.

The Review selectively quotes from submissions it received, including a fairly lengthy extract from the Education Division of the Church of England that expresses their concerns about home education. However, the Review does not quote the Church’s overall conclusion:

‘10 We have seen no evidence to show that the majority of home educated children do not achieve the five Every Child Matters outcomes, and are therefore not convinced of the need to change the current system of monitoring the standard of home education. Where there are particular concerns about the children in a (sic) home-educating this should be a matter for Children’s Services.’

Such selective quotation does not meet the Civil Service Code in terms of:

• Objectivity - the report fails to presents the Church’s views accurately and, given the Review’s findings it effectively, ignores an ‘inconvenient fact’.
• Honesty – the report omits the Church’s view that they are not convinced of further reform, yet it does quote their concerns. An honest view would have included their concerns and their reservations about the need for further reform; as this would have ‘set out the facts and relevant issues truthfully’.

We have a large number of other concerns about the conduct of this Review (please see attached letter) to the extent that there may have been maladministration. We are raising this issue with you because of its seriousness.

Yours sincerely

Prof. Bruce Stafford Mrs Maire Stafford

Link to the Civil Service Code of Conduct.

Link to the 'The Seven Principles of Public Life.


Jax said...

I had wondered if there were any avenues for challenging the independence and impartiality of the review - had asked my MP about it. How did you find out about this way? Is there anything else we can do?

What about the select committee, do they have teeth?

Jax said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jax said...

I have no idea why that posted twice. Please feel free to delete (plus this one as otherwise it won't make sense ;) )

Maire said...

Hi Jax, deleted the duplicate comment but left your request in place as I would not like to give an indication that I had not liked one of your comments lol.

I will leave it to Bruce to answer the question.

Hi Jax, for now I think it's important for as many people as possible to write/email their MP and Ed Balls and raise not only concerns they have about the substance of the review but also about how it was carried out. To me a poorly conducted review inevitably results in poor recommendations. Hence the focus in our letters to our MP and to Balls on the conduct of the review.

It would help if others also wrote to Gus O'Donnell. I've briefly met him and seen him address civil service staff, speaking passionately about the need for standards in public life. Thus he ought to be receptive, and concerned about the Badman review.

There are others who the home ed commununity can contact, notably the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. We may be writing to the Ombudsman once we get a reponse from Gus O'Donnell.

I would suggest that the Select Committee is approached once any legistation is laid before Parliament.

I know about these things, because I have too - I'm a professor of public policy!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this - I saw it on the wiki first, and then came here - doing things backwards as usual!

I shall be writing to the people you suggest, too - aside from anything else it's good for me to have something concrete to do, and this looks like a promising avenue to explore. :)

Mieke said...

Thanks, Bruce and Maire! I will do my best to let as many people as possible read your comment about what to do and who to write to!
Picking your brain a bit more, Bruce: Is there a site or other resource where we can find the stipulations about what standards (if any...) a report commissioned by the government should comply with?

I think I'm close to a total shut down of brain and have difficulty finding English words, so I hope you know what I mean...

stefndawniy said...

Yes , Thank you, very helpful, if it's ok I'd like to link to this post and comments from my blog :-)

Maire said...

Mieke will ask Bruce in the am, Dawny yes please do.

FEEDJIT Live Traffic Feed