News from Britain

Posted on Jan 6 2010 in International Homeschooling by

Below are two notes we recently received from contacts in the U.K. We trust they’ll keep you praying for our brothers across the sea! For more information on the Badman Report mentioned, see this article. – Katherine

From Peter van Zuidam, NVvTO Secretary

The select committee of the English house of Commons on Education has given out a (so to say bipartisan) report on the bill introduced to impose supervision on home education in England. They have finally listened to most of the objections that were raised against the bill by English home educators and their organizations.

See pages 5 and 6 for the summary.

From Roger Slack, Home Service

London2…In November 2008 Ed Balls, the UK’s Minister for Children, Schools and Families, commissioned a report on home education. The publication of the Badman Report in June immediately produced an outcry from home educators. It proposed compulsory registration renewed annually only with the approval of local authority officials who, on this side of the Atlantic, often know little about home education and are sometimes severely prejudiced against it. These same officials would be given power to interview home educated children without anyone else being present.

The management of the report was a travesty of democracy. Professor James Conroy, of Glasgow University, the only member of Mr Badman’s panel to have personal experience of home education: “In my 30 odd years of professional life in education I have rarely encountered a process, the entirety of which was so slap dash, panic driven, and nakedly and naively populist.” Its 28 recommendations were based on the wrong data, faulty evidence or in many cases no evidence at all. For example, it appears that none of the extensive and positive research from the USA was considered. I was amazed and ashamed to discover that such a report should be used to inform UK government policy. Many home educators believe Ed Balls had decided the recommendations before the report was written and Mr Badman knew it didn’t matter too much what he wrote. All he had to do was to fit a flimsy justification around them.

However, the minister has not had it all his own way. We have in the UK parliamentary select committees whose job is to scrutinise the work of government and they chose to look at the Badman report. I submitted to the committee some of the research (based on a list sent to me by Brian Ray) that could have been considered. Their conclusions, published last week, reveal they are not satisfied with the way the Badman Report was conducted nor with its handling of evidence and they disagree with almost all the major conclusions. Nevertheless the government ploughs on with Mr Badman’s draconian proposals.

We now know these proposals are due to be debated in the House of Commons on January the 11th. This is called the second reading of the bill. It is then due to go to the committee stage before it is sent to the House of Lords.

Please pray the Badman recommendations will either be rejected or will not complete their passage through parliament before the next general election, which must take place on or before June the 3rd. The UK has been a beacon of home education freedom in Europe. We want to keep it that way.

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