Saturday, 10 October 2009

More Damned Statistics

Graham Badman has written to Barry Sherman, Chair of the DSCF Select Committee with a paper called, Elective Home Education (EHE) – results of September data collection from local authorities (LAs).   Leaving aside the legitimacy of this exercise and what it says about an expert who produces a report and then has to go scrabbling around for actual robust figures to support it, as I read it these questions come to mind.

According to Badman 0.4% of home educating children have child protection plans, meaning that 99.6% are not unsafe.  Does such a small proportion as this make a multimillion pound intervention proportionate or desirable, especially as it’s only point two on one percentage point lower than for all children in the 74 local authorities?

Badman again claims that there are 20,000 home educated children.  But what if the EHE population is 80,000 or higher?

That 51 home educated children have child protection plans could be taken to mean that the existing system is working – it’s not evidence that Govt needs to extend its powers further as Badman proposes.  What if the LAs who did not respond had no child protection cases in the EHE community, that would mean that 130 local authorities had no child protection cases, over twice as many as are included in Badman’s so say for ease we just double the EHE population without child protection plans to 22,400, I am sure the DCSF have more accurate figures and can do this more precisely, but if we do that the proportion of EHE children with a child protection plan would match the national figure at 2%? 

Without knowing details like this the figures could be misleading!   Of course some of us would say, Duh, that is the point stupid!

The questions about extent of education received are extremely dubious as, as Badman himself stated in his report some local authorities are not performing well.  There has been no investigation into this assertion by the DCSF but home educators  have been investigating using the Freedom of Information act and have discovered that some local authorities are trying to coerce home educators into complying with demands that they do not have legal authority to make.  These may be the very authorities claiming that education is not suitable perhaps because home educators do not accept a visit or that they educate autonomously.  Both perfectly legal options but much disliked by many of the ex teachers and heads that predominate in the Elective Home Education Advisor population.

And the NEET figures, what are they about?  Home educators have no obligation to cooperate with Connexions and many have found them intrusive and rude and do not do so.  So where have these figures come from.  Home education can continue until the age of 19, could the 22% be mostly made up of children that Connexions knows absolutely nothing about?  Are they putting these children down as NEET?  Not doing the government stats much good quite apart from muddying the waters if this is the case.  It has been claimed that NEET stats are fatally flawed anyway as they take a snapshot but take no account of changes in the year.

Missing children?  Children whose last educational setting was EHE.  There is no obligation for an EHE family to inform the local authority when they move, and if you read what many LAs have said about us in their submission to Badman (use link at the extreme right to go to actual Foi reply ) I would be surprised if any would now willingly do so.  So are these children really missing?  Probably not from their families or from education, just from the LA’s prying, suspicious eyes.

This bit from the DCSF response to the Badman Review of Elective Home Education in England, made me laugh, it is particularly comically delusional.

‘Above all, it maps out a new relationship between LAs and home educators, envisaging that they will work collaboratively to provide a wide range of opportunities for home educated children. ‘

Since when did collaboration involve coercion?

More of that in another post.

GritJax, CarlottaFirebird, Gill and Lisa also blog about this latest development.

Danae has a message for all LAs, while Tech is confused by the actions of those presumably running a democracy and warns the DCSF to beware a mother scorned.

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