Home educators today reacted angrily to the news that the DCSF has granted Graham Badman extra time to gather “evidence” for the Select Committee Inquiry into hisreport on Elective Home Education in England, in which he controversially claimed that home educated children are at greater risk of abuse than schooled children. Formal submissions have been requested by 22 September, whereas Mr Badman’s personal “good will” deadline has been extended until 1 October.

Barbara Stark, chair of the home education action group AHEd , expressed incredulity at the development, commenting:

“Our members and supporters have been working hard to ensure their submissions to the Select Committee  meet the given deadline, only to find the goalposts being moved for the benefit of Graham Badman and his chums in the local authorities. It is a sign of  utter desperation that the author of a report whose draconian recommendations have already been accepted by the DCSF without question is now pleading with local authorities to provide some actual evidence to back up his claims.

“Mr Badman should perhaps have asked AHEd since we have already done the work of canvassing every local authority in England using the Freedom of Information Act and have produced an analysis which has been scrutinised by a professional statistician. Our data demonstrate that school going children are more likely to suffer child abuse and neglect than electively home educated children, which directly contradicts Mr Badman’s alleged findings. We will obviously be interested in the returns he receives from these same local authorities since he has chosen to duplicate, at great public expense, our own voluntary efforts to establish the true situation.”

According to home educators, Badman’s letter is tantamount to an admission of guilt. It is widely believed throughout the home education community that his report and recommendations were based on personal prejudice rather than robust research; that the consultation was a sham and the conclusions had been predetermined by the DCSF as a means of regulating elective home education out of existence.

AHEd member Pete Darby commented:

“That the DCSF are forwarding this appeal on behalf of Mr Badman demonstrates that the repeated claims of his independence are a sham. He is, was and always has been a tool of the minister to implement a pre-determined policy.”

Ms Stark concluded:

“Since home educators highlighted the fact that such a small sample (25 out of 150 local authorities) bothered to respond to Graham Badman’s original call for evidence, he is now appealing for additional information in a vain attempt to gain some credibility for his seriously flawed report.

“The DCSF is aiding and abetting this exercise by allowing him special privileges while dragging its heels in responding to outstanding FOI requests from home educators and defending the indefensible. We will be watching closely.”