During the fuss about the Badman report and its aftermath in 2009, many home educators complained bitterly that the proponents of increased regulation for home education were using dubious and in some cases downright dishonest statistics to support their case. Leading the fight against this practice was of course Education Otherwise. It is therefore particularly sad to see that organisation using precisely the same tactics, despite having their attention drawn to what they were doing, over a year ago.
Readers will probably be aware that Education Otherwise was heavily involved in fighting the proposals in Wales for the registration and monitoring of home educated children. They circulated a document to every member of the Welsh Assembly Government. Here is the page from the Education Otherwise site which explains all this;
Note particularly the following;
Trustees are in the process of drafting an EO response to the proposals. In the meantime, a briefing paper is being printed and sent to all Assembly Members. Drafts of this have been circulated widely, but the final text is here (or see download link at foot of page). We hope that Welsh home educators will be able to make good use of this well-informed document, in considering their own responses to the consultation.
You will of course observe that this document is, 'well informed' and that Education Otherwise endorse it fully. When they express the wish that home educators , 'will be able to make good use of this', presumably it is hoped that these parents will quote from it and use the figures which it contains. Far from being well informed, it is a truly dreadful piece of work; riddled with errors, exaggerations, distortions, inaccuracies and falsehoods. Many of the figures it contains are false. I do not have the time or energy to go through this long paper point by point, but last October I drew attention to a couple of really bad examples; deliberate lies which had been inserted into the thing in order to mislead those who were unfamiliar with home education. Shena Deuchars, at one time Chair and currently a trustee of Education Otherwise, came on here and agreed with much of what I had said. You might have thought that having had these matters pointed out over a year ago, Education Otherwise would have either withdrawn or at the very least amended the briefing paper. They did not and still have not. This suggests to me that they are happy to spread falsehoods and phony statistics about home education if it will advance their own point of view.
What were the two points to which I drew attention over a year ago? Here is one of them. This is a quotation from the document which Education Otherwise are still touting on their website:
A 2002 study of 419 EHE families in the UK found:
‘The results show that 64% of the home-educated Reception aged children scored over 75% on their PIPS Baseline Assessments as opposed to 5.1% of children nationally.
This is completely untrue. The PIPS were actually administered not to 419 families but to 35 children. What is the motive for increasing the number twelve-fold in this way? It is a deliberate and cynical attempt to make the research look a good deal more extensive than was in fact the case. It can hardly be a simple mistake, because of the way that it has been edited to leave out the actual number of children assessed using PIPS.
Here is the other instance which I gave;
A Wiltshire based home education support group has kept records of children in the group since 2002. They found that the 52 older children involved had achieved 199 formal qualifications in 50 subjects with 69% of those qualifications being GCSE or IGCSE, 13% were A levels and others in Tertiary or performance. 50% of those qualifications were taken under the age of 16 years. 33% of those students achieving performing arts qualifications were awarded distinctions and 96% of other grades were at A* -C. (N.Wilts).
This is even more awful! Far from these figures relating to one home education group, they are actually for the entire population of home educated children in the United Kingdom; perhaps 50,000 children. The reference to , ' the 52 older children involved', is intended to conceal this, by making it seem that we are talking about children involved with this one group. Again, this cannot be an innocent mistake, because the author has gone on to the site and copied the figures. As soon as the person writing this document went onto the site, it would be seen immediately that anybody in the world can upload anything they please to this site and make whatever claims that they wish. Nobody checks what is put there. Pretending that the results relate to records kept by a single group was designed to make them look like verified and typical outcomes for home educated children. There really can be no excuse at all for Education Otherwise not to know about this, because of course the site was set up by Shena Deuchars, formerly their Chair. Here is the site:
I do hope that the irony of this does not escape readers. In 2009, Education Otherwise are filled with righteous indignation at the idea of anybody using false and misleading figures during the course of a debate on home education. Three years later and they are caught playing exactly the same game themselves! Not only that, by encouraging home educators to, 'make good use of this well informed document', they are trying to make others spread misinformation.