I wasn't around in the HE community when the Badman report was published. I came to it all rather late. I'm quite glad really, as I think I would have been completely demoralised. To take one example, he said that the rate of child abuse in home educated children was twice the national average. This was wrong and based on flawed statistics, but despite this, the government accepted his report as fact, and accepted his recommendations in full. The Home Ed community have worked hard to try and correct the tons of misinformation in the Badman Report, and many people have realised how wrong it is. We started to feel we were making progress. Then the trial of the parents of Kyra Ishaq resurfaced in the media.
Kyra Ishaq was a little girl who was starved to death by her parents. At the time of her death, she wasn't going to school. Her parents had removed her. Badman, the local MP and Social Workers say her case is the reason home educators need to be licensed and monitored. And on the face of it, the claims look reasonable. So lets look at some detail.
When you remove a child from school in order to home educated, the law says you MUST send a letter of de-registration so that your child is removed from the school roll, and the parents cannot be prosecuted for truancy etc etc. There is NO de-registration letter on file from the parents of Kyra to say she was being educated otherwise than at school. Kyra wasn't being home educated, she was being hidden.
This family were known to social services. When Kyra's body was found, her siblings were also found to be in various states of malnutrition. None of them were attending school, even though they had all attended previously, and none had been formally de-registered. The school had raised concerns about the children and about their absence. Yet social services had deemed the children not at risk, no Education Welfare Officer had visited, Police declined to visit do to 'no concerns' from social services.
Graham Badman says this case proves that a tiny minority of families use home education to cover up abuse.
What it says to me is that the local authority, the education service and social services failed utterly in their duty to the children in this family, and in the light of horrific cases in Darlington and Harringey, these 'services' are trying desperately to lay the blame elsewhere.
Home Education is a red herring. Kyra wasn't home educated, she was truant. She was being prevented from getting any type of education by her abusive parents. She was utterly let down by those who should have protected her.
This case isn't about home education, it is about the failure of established agencies, and their failure to use existing law to save Kyra's life. The people who think this case is about home education are wrong, are guilty of not looking at the details properly, and if they stand by and let the current proposals for the monitoring and licensing of home education become law, are guilty of letting thousands of children down.
Soley's Bill - Report Stage and Third Reading
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