Archive of Older Material
This page contains an archive of some material that is of historical interest.
At the start of 2009, the UK government wondered if home education might:
- provide only a poor-quality education; or
- be a front for child abuse, forced marriages or child labour.
The government asked Graham Badman to investigate these possibilities. The resulting report, the Badman Review, found no evidence of poor educational standards, forced marriages or child labour. However, with the aid of flawed statistical analysis, Mr. Badman claimed that the rate of child abuse among home-educated children was higher than in the general population. Based on these findings, the report made 28 recommendations. If implemented into law, these would have made it very hard, if not impossible, for families to continue to home-educate.
Some home educators wrote a response document called Right to Reply that was both informative and very interesting. Among other things, this response document contained the following.
- Personal accounts by home-educating parents and children. These explained some of the how’s and why’s of home education. (For an entire book of such personal accounts, I highly recommend Free Range Education).
- An overview of UK-based academic research that shows home-educated children do significantly better academically than school-educated children. (The Badman Review report had ignored all such academic research.)
- A discussion from an academic statistician that explained the incompetence in the (lack of) methodology used to gather and process the statistics in the Badman Review.
- An independent statistical analysis, using a larger sample size than that used in the Badman Review, that showed the rate of abuse among home-educated children to be significantly lower than the national rate of abuse.
The Badman Review’s report was full of “dirty tricks”: selective quotations that distort the intended meaning of the person being quoted; citing non-existent research; ignoring relevant research; and suppressing evidence that would cast doubt on the report’s analysis and conclusions. In addition, the report neglected to provide an appendix with the raw data it used for its statistical analysis, thus making it difficult to anybody to check the validity of the statistics-based claims.
Some home educators had to submit literally hundreds of freedom of information (FOI) requests, to various government organizations, to gain access to the raw data that Mr. Badman used for his statistical analysis. It was when they gathered this raw data and did their own analysis that they discovered the fundamental flaws in Mr. Badman’s analysis. You can find a critique of Mr. Badman’s statistics in this document.
Very suspiciously, one government department—the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF)—had refused to respond to many of the FOI requests. By the way, it was the DCSF who paid Mr. Badman to write his flawed report.
The DCSF denied the FOI requests because they claimed to have evidence that: (1) home educators were trying to vilify Mr. Badman: (2) a small group of home educators were trying to inundate the DCSF with FOI requests; and (3) one person who was sending FOI requests was making “vexatious”, “harassing” and “derogatory” comments about DCSF staff.
These accusations made by the DCSF seemed strange to me so I decided to look at the evidence to support them. I discovered that every single piece of “evidence” was complete rubbish. I wrote a 27-page letter to the Information Commissioner’s Office to complain about this blatant attempt of the DCSF to unlawfully deny FOI requests. My letter examined every single item of “evidence” and showed just how stupid and unfounded it is.
Part-way through writing the letter, the farcical nature of the accusations became very clear to me and I was reminded of the classic comedy sketch Constable Savage that appeared on Not the Nine O’Clock News many years ago. The ludicrous accusations in that comedy sketch are disturbingly similar to those used by the DCSF to deny FOI requests.
By the way, the government immediately accepted the recommendations of the Badman report when it was first published, ignored the serious concerns subsequently raised about it, and tried to put the report’s recommendations into law via the Children, Schools and Families Bill. Thankfully, that bill was rejected.