Friday, 28 August 2009

Fisking (I think) The Explanatory Note to the Badman Report

My fisking in purple italics.

Explanatory note 20 August 2009

The working paper below is a summary of local authority (LA) information returned to the Badman Review team, but it has at this point undergone limited quality assurance and does not meet DCSF standards for publication of statistical data.

So why has it been used to produce a published report that suggests changes to the law? Par for the course for this substandard piece of work.

The statement in para 8.12 in the Badman report ‘… the number of children known to children’s social care in some local authorities is disproportionately high relative to the size of their home educating population…’ is based on the raw data returns from LAs, rather than directly from the information contained in this working paper.

However the statement in the report, that in ‘our evaluation of serious case reviews has identified that a lack of oversight of children receiving home education contributed to a serious incident of the death of a child’ may well have been based on data in this document.

The working paper requested follows.


Independent Review of Home Education - safeguarding evidence


1. Total elective home education (EHE) population

* 12,300 children were registered EHE in the 90 LAs that responded to our questionnaire. Approximately 35% were of primary age, 65% of secondary age.

* Can therefore assume approximately 21,000 EHE children in the country1.

* These data relate to known, registered children only. We know that to be an underestimate and therefore one could assume these figures may be higher.

Except that problems come to light in the community and in this way most he’ers referred to SS will be then be known to the LA.

2. Sampling

* First questionnaire – All top tier LAs were sent the LA questionnaire (n=150). 90 responses were received (response rate of 60%). A further 13 LAs responded to the public call for evidence questionnaire. 47 LAs did not respond.

* Second questionnaire – sent to the 90 LAs who responded to the first questionnaire; 25 responded (28% response rate)2.

As someone pointed out this is about 18% of all LAs, a very small sample size.

* NB: Not all LAs answered all the questions asked, therefore the base numbers mentioned in this note differ. One cannot assume missing data means nil (i.e. no children).

One cannot assume it means problems, what sort of person would fill in a questionnaire like this and leave out such important information. I think we can assume that it most likely means nil.

Key Safeguarding Facts

3. Serious Case reviews

* Notified of four SCRs (see Annex A for details) which had an home education element (NB: not including Birmingham).

Is Annex A included or is it part of the report, Foi-ed here

* Two reviews recommended that procedures for monitoring and supporting all home educated children should be strengthened. The other two recommended that procedures for monitoring and supporting home educated children where there are welfare concerns, should be strengthened.

Does this mean two review responses or is it referring to previous reviews, ie not the 2009 one? Bruce thinks this means Serious Case Review.

* In addition, two cases of trafficked children who were said to be home educated were notified (by Association of Chief Police Officers ACPO). It was not clear from the information supplied whether the children were registered EHE or not.

Surely this should have been found out before recommending changes? I think this also need an Foi but not sure who to Foi, anyone any idea?

4. Cases of ‘cover’ for abuse

This data was collected via the first questionnaire to all 150 LAs; 90 LAs responded (60% response rate). NB: It is clear from further investigation of this data that not all of these cases involved EHE being used as a ‘cover’ for abuse etc, but rather that the home educated child was known to social care in some capacity e.g. referral, investigation, care order / child protection plan.

This probably includes referrals due to disability?

* 54 LAs (60%) had one or more cases where there was some element of safeguarding intervention (over the last five years).
* In total, 72 cases were notified.

I wonder what proportion of the children this represents? Foi here

* 17 LAs (19%) stated categorically that they had no cases where EHE had been used as a cover for abuse in the last five years. A further 5 said they did not know if there were any such cases.
* 13 LAs did not respond to this question.

5. Known to social care3

NB: this data is from the second questionnaire - 25 of the 90 LAs asked responded (28% response rate).

The proportion of children known to social care4 in the 25 LAs for which we have data varied widely - some had none, in one LA, 55% of their EHE children is known to social care.

Must be some maladministration going on here foi for which la it was


* Based on the data we have from the 25 LAs, the average (median) proportion of EHE children per LA known to social care is approximately 7%. We estimate there are approximately 3% of children (5-16 years) known to social care maintained schools.5* Within the 25 LAs for which we have data, there were 477 registered home educated children who were currently known to social care.

* On average (median) 7 children per LA are known to social care.

* Extrapolating to the national level (150 LAs), this means around 1350 home educated children are known to social care in some capacity (6.75%).

As we know this is a totally illegitimate and manipulative manoeuvre.

* 13 LAs told us specifically about their EHE children who were subject to a care plan (previously a child protection plan). Again, data varied widely but 5 LAs had at least 4% of their case load subject to a care plan.

Can this be due to disability?

6. Safeguarding ‘concerns’

* We asked LAs to estimate the proportion of their caseload for whom they had safeguarding concerns6. However, it is not clear whether this data is in addition to that notified in the previous section and should not be presented as so.

Surely they should have clarified this? Anyone can ask questions and get poor answers, surely Badman was paid to get clear answers?

* This data is less reliable as the ‘% known to social care’ as it is estimated. However, it does illustrate the nature and extent of the issues LAs deal with within their caseloads.

Mostly the megalomaniac aspirations of a very few, I think. Also the sloppy collection and recording of data that seems acceptable to LA bods.

* Of the 14 LAs that provided an estimate, 9 had safeguarding concerns for 10% or more of their EHE population

14 out of 150, less than 10% enough in Badman’s view to remove the presumption of innocence and the right to privacy of a significant minority of families! Bruce says that there is probably more to it than that but I can’t think of anything significant that has been uncovered. Anyone else?

7. Other data

7.1 Provision of Education

* Most LAs struggled to provide specific information on the proportion of their case loads that were, in their estimation, receiving a suitable, full time education. Most said it was hard to quantify whether the education was full time; others suggested they had difficulty with the definition of; a further 20 said over 80% were. 6 LAs said it was 50% or under.

Why are they not issuing SAOs in this situation?

* However, when asked in our second questionnaire, over half (12)

12 out of 150 LAs who surely would have responded if they had concerns, (you cannot be serious!)

of the 20 LAs for whom we have data estimated that in 5% or more of their caseload, there was no education provided at all. Two LAs estimated there was no education provision in over 25% of the children on their caseloads. Four LAs said that there was education provided in all of their caseloads

.Again why are they not using current law to deal with this? Perhaps they know their concerns are more like prejudice and snobbery and wouldn’t stand up in court.

7.2 Avoiding prosecution for non-attendance

* Based on the data we have from 21 LAs, on average (median) 6% of EHE children per LA are using EHE as a way to avoid prosecution for non attendance at school. Again, the proportions differed markedly (1-32%).

Prosecution for truancy is a barbaric alternative to looking at reasons for truancy and improving provision. It is the state blaming and punishing others for its own failings and acting in a tyrannical and despotic way. Anyone in their right mind would avoid this sort of totalitarian interference if they could. However the law as it stands allows the LA to issue an SAO if they are not satisfied that an education is taking place so what is the problem?

Serious Case Reviews – recommendations

1. Isle of Wight (older sibling was EHE)

“The Local Education Authority should satisfy themselves that, where there are children in need /at risk with additional concerns who want to be educated other than at school, a full assessment (e.g., CAF) is undertaken, which would assess the appropriateness of the learning environment and the possible risk factors that can impede a child’s ability to thrive and learn”.

Surely this is already perfectly possible where a child has been proven to be abused in a family?

2. South Gloucestershire (young person’s suicide)

“Consideration to be given by the Department for Education and Skills to promoting legislative review of sections of the 1996 Education Act relating to elective home education, to give Local Education Authorities greater powers to gain access to children to better assess the suitability of education provided and more generally contribute to the safeguarding of their welfare”.

No evidence at all is provided here to show that the home ed situation was responsible for the suicide or that a visit and interegation would help.

How many school children commit suicide?

3. Enfield (young person dead for 4 months)

NB – SCR states categorically that the mother “complied with all statutory requirements in relation to children in elective home education. She co-operated with visits from the London Borough of Enfield Education Department in April and May 2005, and June 2006. The visiting officer had no concerns about the family or their circumstances, and was satisfied with the programme of education proposed.”

So how would the proposed changes help?

3.1 Conclusions from SCR

* The government has recently completed a consultation exercise on elective home education [DN: not sure which consultation this refers to (as the SCR is undated!)

Well do you job for goodness sake and find out!

but probably the CME guidance last year]. There is a minimal consideration of child protection issues in the draft guidance, and features of this case illustrate that weakness. As the home situation deteriorated, the fact that the children were not in school limited their opportunities to seek assistance outside the family. There was also a diminished opportunity for agencies to detect and respond to that deteriorating situation.

Visiting once a year would most likely have missed this situation. Has it been proven to be child abuse or just a family unable to deal with a sudden death, does anyone have any more links to this? Thanks for this one Raquel.

* The case also flags up the issue that children educated at home do not have access to school nursing services. These might detect children with health problems, or children whose immunisations and health checks have not been followed up.

Not true, someone else not doing their job, thanks Sally (see comments in previous post). Immunisations and health checks are voluntary and not having them is not a sign of child abuse.

3.2 Recommendations

* The Department for Children, Schools and Families should take account of the issues arising from this Serious Case Review which relate to child protection arrangements for children in elective home education, in developing guidance in that area.

* The [London Borough of Enfield] Education Service should review current arrangements for offering assistance to families who have chosen home education, with a view to increasing frequency of contact, and direct child contact, so as to maximise the opportunities for safeguarding children.

Offering assistance or insisting on intrusion, they are not the same?

4. Gloucestershire (Spry)

What more can be said about this, total failiure of the authorities involved. Abuse going on while children at school, childrens’ requests for help ignored by authorities and schools. Changes suggested would have made no difference the authorities couldn’t have been more involved.

Link to case

1. Relevant info

* “Mrs Spry controlled the amount of contact that professionals could have with the five children. She removed all of the children from school to be educated at home, as permitted by law, which had the effect of preventing any day-to-day external view of their care.

* “Mrs Spry also either rejected or consistently changed planned appointments that were offered, making it difficult for all professionals coming into contact with the family to establish a clear view of the home circumstances and the care of the children”.

* “Education services did nevertheless seek to maintain contact with the family on an annual basis, to monitor their education at home, and their education and situation appeared to be generally satisfactory. No child protection concerns were noted”.

So changes would not have helped.

4.2 Recommendations

* “The GSCB should make appropriate representation to Government to highlight the concern that there is currently no legal process, which ensures that children, who are educated at home, are regularly seen, and their progress monitored, by Educating Otherwise professionals”.

More of the document found on 29 august, part of a document released to Shena Deuchars here:

Taking an average caseload per LA (139 children) multiplied by 150 LA.

25 LAs represents 17% of all LAs therefore important that this evidence is not overstated.

Known to social care includes Section 17, 37 or 47 enquiries.

Proportions - we need to be careful about this and not overstate. Large proportions don't necessarily mean large numbers - it could be a few children in a small authority with few EHE children.

Using 2005 data (the latest available), these are approximate figures and include disabled children.

This includes parents with mental health, substance misuse issues for example, domestic violence, child mental heath or other concerns.


Most of the cases mentioned above were children who were seen and care was thought to be satisfactory.

In the light of this the changes in the law on home education seem like gratuitous voyeurism on the part of the DCSF.

The changes that would make the most difference are better training and resources for the authorities involved as has been said ad nauseum.

Surely, in Badman’s own words, ‘Some of the studies responses were … based on small samples and therefore the ability to generalise is limited. Some All were based on self selecting, and therefore biased, samples.’


Louise said...

Excellent Maire, thank you, you've put into words some of the uncomfortable thoughts whirling round my head last night. Especially the last bit. I might get a t shirt printed.

Dani said...

Thanks, Maire. Excellent as usual.

I think your first point is crucial. If things are working pretty much as they should, you would *expect* to see a higher proportion of children known to social care among the _known_ EHE population, because being known to social care automatically puts a family into the 'known' category.

On point 4, you said:

"In total, 72 cases were notified. I wonder what proportion of the children this represents?"

But I think we can approach an answer to this - from point 1 of this paper, we have:

"12,300 children were registered EHE in the 90 LAs that responded to our questionnaire"

So out of 12,300 children, there have been 72 cases requiring some kind of safeguarding intervention over the last five years. That is 0.58%.

The total population of known EHE children in these 90 authorities over the whole 5 years will have been bigger than this, of course, as there is always some turnover. So the true proportion must be even smaller than this.

Dani said...

And another thing -

They are now saying this working paper doesn't meet their standards for statistical analysis, and isn't what Badman's point 8.12 was based on in any case.

But when they originally released part of point 5 of this paper, it was in answer to questions about what para 8.12 was based on.

For example, this request by K. Maxwell

HelenHaricot said...

you are sooo fab. if you don't mind, i am going to dossier some of this and send to my mp [in my own words]

Carlotta said...

Just wanted to add my thanks.

Anonymous said...

Just had a truly horrid thought. What if Badman is a paedophile?

What if he wants to set other paedophiles up with unattended children? Wouldn't his 'see the chid alone' recommendation make sense?

What if we ask him "Are you a paedophile, Mr. Badman?"

Badman: "No, of course I'm not."

"Can you prove you are not a paedophile, Mr. Badman?"

Badman: "No, of course I can't prove I am not a paedophile. That's ridiculous."

"But that's what you want home educators to prove, Mr Badman. You want home educators to prove they are not molesting or abusing their children, Mr. Badman..."


Maire said...

@Danae, quite!

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