On the face of it, this seems an absurd question. We all know that every home educator in the country rejects Badman and all his works, with the exception of one or two idiots and lunatics like the present writer! Look at the petitions, see all those people sending in submissions to the Select Committee.
Nobody knows how many parents of home educated children there are in this country. Twenty thousand home educated children are known to local authorities and it is guessed that there might be many more who are unknown. Let us take fifty thousand as a ballpark figure. Obviously, some families will contain more than one child and all children will have two parents. This might give us perhaps seventy or eighty thousand parents. How many of these are so opposed to the recommendations contained in the Badman Report that they wish to do something, or indeed anything at all, about it?
Well to begin with there are internet petitions. I have to say that as somebody who was once very active politically, I am more than a little dubious about any sort of petition. In my experience, for every genuine name on a petition, there would generally be one or two added at various stages just to make the thing look more impressive. If you also take into account the number of friends, family and workmates who would sign the thing just as a favour, then only perhaps a third of the signatures represent those genuinely supporting the aim of the petition. If this is the case with pieces of paper that one actually has to sign, I shudder to think just how inflated must be email petitions, where one merely has to log on and click a mouse!
Perhaps the largest petition is that on No. 10's website, calling for the Badman Report to be scrapped. It currently has just under three and a half thousand signatures. They are not all home educating parents of course. I know this, because I recognise some of the names there. It is also easy to rig this petition by setting up a Hotmail account and submitting false names. This took me less than five minutes. I must therefore regard this particular petition with a certain amount of caution. Certainly, it tells us nothing about the percentage of parents opposed to the Badman Report. After all, as I said, they are not all parents. What about the Commons Select Committee which is going to review Graham Badman's conclusions then? Here, the situation is even feebler.
The Select Committee received about two hundred submissions. This hardly sounds as though those eighty thousand home educating parents are that inflamed about the Badman Report. True, some of the submissions were made on behalf of a groups of parents, but you would think that if they were that fussed they would write in themselves with their objections.
I have certainly heard people saying that thirty or so parents at their home education group are all of them are strongly against the Badman Report. It seems odd then that all these parents are not actually doing anything. If even a fifth of home educating parents in this country sent a few emails, that would mean perhaps fifteen thousand signatures on a petition or even fifteen thousand submissions to the Select Committee rather than two hundred.
The more closely I look at the furore surrounding Graham Badman's review of elective home education, the more I am beginning to suspect that it is the work of a few hundred fiercely dedicated individuals trying hard to create the illusion that they represent the masses. I am also starting to think it at least possible that most home educators, while having some reservations about the recommendations Graham Badman made, might possibly be in broad agreement with his views. In other words, perhaps I am not just a lone crank after all. A comforting thought indeed! So far, despite extensive searching, I have found no evidence to militate against such an hypothesis, except of course for the shrilly expressed views of fewer than 0.5% of home educating parents on sites such as HE-UK. The other 99.5% remain curiously and resolutely silent.