Submissions to the Elective Home Education Review

Shena Deuchars made this Freedom of Information request to Department for Children, Schools and Families

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was refused by Department for Children, Schools and Families.

Shena Deuchars

Dear Sir or Madam,

Please supply me with a copy of the submissions to the Elective Home Education Review that were received from the bodies and professional experts listed in Annex B of Graham Badman's report published 11 June 2009. For ease, I list the relevant bodies and experts.

Association of Chief Police Officers,
Association of Directors of Children’s Services,
Association of Education Welfare Managers,
Autism in Mind,
Bedfordshire County Council,
Birmingham City Council,
British Dyslexia Association,
Cheshire County Council,
Professor James Conroy,
Department of Health,
Derbyshire County Council,
Education Otherwise,
Family Education Trust,
Forced Marriage Unit, Foreign and Commonwealth Office,
Gloucestershire County Council,
Home Education Advisory Service,
Home Education Research Association,
Independent Panel for Special Educational Advice (IPSEA),
Islamic Home Schooling Advisory Network,
Arthur Ivatts,
Leicestershire County Council,
Local Government Association,
National Association of Social Workers in Education,
National Autism Society,
NCB,
North Yorkshire County Council,
NSPCC,
Ofsted,
Dr Paula Rothermel,
Alison Sauer (Sauer Consulting),
Professor Alan Thomas,
Staffordshire County Council,
Wandsworth Council,
West Sussex County Council,
Wolverhampton Council,
Worcestershire County Council

Yours faithfully,

Shena Deuchars

Department for Children, Schools and Families

Dear Ms Deuchars,

Thank you for your recent email. A reply will be sent to you as soon as
possible (where a response is required). For information, the
departmental standard for correspondence received is that responses
should be sent within 15 working days or 20 working days if you are
requesting information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Your correspondence has been allocated the reference number 2009/0052984

Thank you.

Central Allocation Team

Public Communications Team

Tel: 0870 0002288
www.dcsf.gov.uk

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Shena Deuchars left an annotation ()

Can I suggest that you follow up by asking them:
- why this annex was not released with the report?
- to release the whole of the annex?
- did the other 35 LAs simply not answer the question, or did they say that they had 0 EHE children known to social care?
- of the 477 EHE children 'known to social care', what percentage are known because of
-s17
-s37
-s47
-any other reason?

In fact, I think I'll put in a new FoI for that info too.

Shena Deuchars left an annotation ()

The annotation above was a mistake - I was posting on another request but I can't delete this one.

Department for Children, Schools and Families

Dear Ms Deuchars,
Thank you for your request for information, which was received on 15 June
2009. You requested -

a copy of the submissions to the Elective
Home Education Review that were received from the bodies and
professional experts listed in Annex B of Graham Badman's report
published 11 June 2009. For ease, I list the relevant bodies and
experts.

Association of Chief Police Officers, Association of Directors of
Children's Services, Association of Education Welfare Managers,
Autism in Mind, Bedfordshire County Council, Birmingham City
Council, British Dyslexia Association, Cheshire County Council,
Professor James Conroy, Department of Health, Derbyshire County
Council, Education Otherwise, Family Education Trust, Forced
Marriage Unit, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Gloucestershire
County Council, Home Education Advisory Service, Home Education
Research Association, Independent Panel for Special Educational
Advice (IPSEA), Islamic Home Schooling Advisory Network, Arthur
Ivatts, Leicestershire County Council, Local Government
Association, National Association of Social Workers in Education,
National Autism Society, NCB, North Yorkshire County Council,
NSPCC, Ofsted, Dr Paula Rothermel, Alison Sauer (Sauer Consulting),
Professor Alan Thomas, Staffordshire County Council, Wandsworth
Council, West Sussex County Council, Wolverhampton Council,
Worcestershire County Council

I have dealt with your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000
("the Act").

The Department holds information within scope of your requests but it is
being withheld because the following qualified exemption, requiring a
public interest test, is engaged:

Section 38(1)(a) and (b) this section provides that information is exempt
if its disclosure under the Act would, or would be likely, to

(a) endanger the physical or mental health of any individual; or

(b) endanger the safety of any individual.

The Department has strong reason to expect that one or both of these
consequences would result from release. This exemption is however subject
to the public interest test which means that even where prejudice or
likely prejudice can be demonstrated, it is still necessary to consider
whether in all the circumstances of the case the public interest in
withholding the information outweighs the public interest in disclosure.

The Act obliges the Department to respond to requests promptly, and in any
case no later than 20 working days after receiving your request. However,
where one or more exemptions are engaged, the Department must consider
whether the public interest lies in disclosing or withholding the
information. In these circumstances the Act allows the time for response
to be longer than 20 working days.

In your case the Department estimates that it will take an additional 20
working days to take a decision on where the balance of the public
interest lies. It is anticipated that you will receive a full response by
10 August. If any other exemptions are engaged in this case the
Department will consider the public interest balance in those at the same
time. If it appears that it will take longer than this to reach a
conclusion, we will keep you informed.

If you have any queries about this letter, please contact me. Please
remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.

If you are unhappy with the way your request has been handled, you should
make a complaint to the Department by writing to me within two calendar
months of the date of this letter. Your complaint will be considered by
an independent review panel, who were not involved in the original
consideration of your request.

If you are not content with the outcome of your complaint to the
Department, you may then contact the Information Commissioner's Office.
Yours sincerely,

Josephine Bell
Independent Schools Partnerships and Strategy Team
[email address]
[1]www.dcsf.gov.uk

Your correspondence has been allocated the reference number 2009/0052984.

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References

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Shena Deuchars

Dear Ms Bell,

Do you think that disclosure of all the submissions is exempt under Section 38(1)(a) and (b) or does the exemption apply only to submissions from certain categories of respondent (e.g. named individuals)?

If it only applies to certain categories, please send any information that does not fall into that category while you consider the public interest test.

Yours sincerely,

Shena Deuchars

Department for Children, Schools and Families

Dear Ms Deuchars

Thank you for your email of 14 July as follows:

Do you think that disclosure of all the submissions is exempt under
Section 38(1)(a) and (b) or does the exemption apply only to
submissions from certain categories of respondent (e.g. named
individuals)?

If it only applies to certain categories, please send any
information that does not fall into that category while you
consider the public interest test.

As you will recall your email was in response to Ms Bell's email to you
of 14 July which indicated that section 38 of the Freedom of Information
Act 2000 was engaged and that we would aim to let you have a final
response to your original request by 10 August having balanced the
public interest in release against that in withholding

The Department is aware that attempts are being made on the Internet to
vilify and harass the author of the review. It is the Department's view
that, whilst dealing with each request on its merits, this situation
will have to be taken into account in dealing with any relevant FOI
requests. We therefore consider that section 38 is engaged in respect of
all the submissions you have requested. In balancing the public interest
we anticipate the need to consider whether it is in the public interest
to release information likely to intensify any such campaign, or to
lead to harassment or distress to individuals. A number of individuals
have participated in and responded to the review, often in an official
capacity on behalf of local authorities, charities and other bodies. The
Department will always seek to meet the legitimate rights of requesters
to information, but under section 2 (2) (b) of the Act ("in all the
circumstances of the case") it will also take into account the need for
public servants and other individuals to be able to conduct legitimate
business in the public interest without harassment.

The Department is not suggesting that you have participated, or are
participating, in such a campaign. As far as we are concerned you are a
bona fide requester under that Act and we shall treat your request
accordingly, applying the public interest test fairly and
conscientiously. It is unfortunate that the activities of a minority of
people on the Internet have caused us to engage section 38 and to take
further time to consider the balance of public interest.

Yours sincerely

Andrew Partridge
Information Rights Manager, DCSF

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M Stafford left an annotation ()

So telling the general public in purposely twisted press releases that home education is a cover for abuse and servitude is not vilifying and harassing.

Graham Badman has produced a poor and dishonest report, misused statistics and compared apples and pears in order to produce a predecided result.

The DCSF needs to be open and transparent about this information, that is what would be in the public interest instead of trying to hide the duplicity involved in this report.

[Name removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

So Badman's mental health is put at risk by a spoof blog? Really such delicate little flowers should not be taking on the Govt's hatchet jobs. I suggest he tells his mummy.

Emma Hornby left an annotation ()

I think Mr Badman should be looking long and hard at his conscience.

He is being heavily criticized for a piece of work which, it gradually emerges, is substandard in many respects. It went beyond the explicit terms of the brief, and the terms on which he consulted the public, and the recommendations follow neither from the brief nor from the data, so far as that can be verified. The use of stats is embarrassing. He has misrepresented the submission of the CofE and at least one selectively-quoted HEer, as well as, it emerges, working from notes of meetings with people who are not prepared to sign off those notes as an accurate record of the conversation.

There are two possible courses of action for Mr Badman here. One is to reject the criticisms, instead seeing himself as vilified and harassed (and this course becomes harder to sustain with every fresh revelation, to be honest), and the second is to say "mea culpa", withdraw his report and either rewrite it more honestly and competently, or return the fee and let the DCSF commission someone else to complete the task.

I do not intend either to harass or vilify Mr Badman here. But his report and his conduct are both vulnerable to justified criticism, and the sooner he appreciates that, the sooner he will be able to begin restoring his reputation.

David Landy left an annotation ()

Surely, if revealing further details would support the conclusions of the Review, this would lead to a calming-down of the situation, and improve things for Mr Badman?

At least people could then see the logic of the situation, as he sees it.

For this reason, one would have thought that the DCSF would be in favour of revealing ALL the background data of the report, as quickly as possible.

Sadly, their refusal to so can only give rise to further suspicion that the base data doesn't support the conclusions of the Review.

Roger Machin left an annotation ()

Badman has been well paid to produce a set of lies that threaten to destroy the lives and liberties of thousands. He is now being humiliated by the patient research of ordinary unpaid parents, the kind of research which this sordid bureaucrat failed to undertake and which the DCSF though this fake concern is now trying to obstruct. Badman does not need protecting: he will live with this for the rest of his pitiable life, and he deserves all that has come to him and worse. God help this empty shell of a man.

Francis Irving left an annotation ()

Blog post referring to this request:
http://gritsday.blogspot.com/2009/07/rea...

Dear Sir or Madam,

As it is now 10 August 2009, I look forward to receiving the result of your public interest test.

Yours faithfully,

Shena Deuchars

Department for Children, Schools and Families

Dear Ms Deuchars

Thank you for your email of 10 August.

I very much regret the delay in responding substantively to your
request. I had hoped to have provided you with a final response by
yesterday, but that has proved not to be possible. This has been partly
because of the issues involved in balancing the public interest in this
case, and partly due to the volume of FOI requests received about
elective home education.

The Department will require further time to consider the balance of
public interest in relation to your request, and I hope to be able to
let you have a final response by 8 September, or before then if it is
possible to complete the public interest tests sooner.

Yours sincerely

Andrew Partridge
Information Rights Manager, DCSF

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Jaki Parsons left an annotation ()

It is concerning to note that these FOI requests seem to be continually sidelined. Considering that unpaid parents / volunteers have brought the DCFS to a standstill with FOI requests, this does not bode well for a government department that seems unable to find their own files.

Unless of course, these files contain data that do not support Badman's report. Now there's a thought!

S Tyler left an annotation ()

Of course many of the outstanding FOIs have similar content, so they could clear much of this 'backlog' by simply researching a few areas.

Department for Children, Schools and Families

Our reference: 2009/0052984 and 2009/0063810

Dear Ms Deuchars,

I refer to your request for information, which was received on 15 June
2009. You requested :

a copy of the submissions to the Elective
Home Education Review that were received from the bodies and
professional experts listed in Annex B of Graham Badman's report
published 11 June 2009. For ease, I list the relevant bodies and
experts.

Association of Chief Police Officers, Association of Directors of
Children's Services, Association of Education Welfare Managers,
Autism in Mind, Bedfordshire County Council, Birmingham City
Council, British Dyslexia Association, Cheshire County Council,
Professor James Conroy, Department of Health, Derbyshire County
Council, Education Otherwise, Family Education Trust, Forced
Marriage Unit, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Gloucestershire
County Council, Home Education Advisory Service, Home Education
Research Association, Independent Panel for Special Educational
Advice (IPSEA), Islamic Home Schooling Advisory Network, Arthur
Ivatts, Leicestershire County Council, Local Government
Association, National Association of Social Workers in Education,
National Autism Society, NCB, North Yorkshire County Council,
NSPCC, Ofsted, Dr Paula Rothermel, Alison Sauer (Sauer Consulting),
Professor Alan Thomas, Staffordshire County Council, Wandsworth
Council, West Sussex County Council, Wolverhampton Council,
Worcestershire County Council

Your request has been dealt with under the Freedom of Information Act
2000 ("the Act"). Ms Bell's email of 14 July indicated that the
Department holds information within scope of your request, but
it was being withheld because the exemption at section 38 of the Act
(health and safety) was engaged, and that the Department required more
time to consider the balance of public interest in withholding as
opposed to disclosure. My email of 11 August extended the time needed to
consider the balance until 8 September. It has not been possible to
complete the public interest tests until now, and I would like to
apologise again for the delay.

You will recall that your email of 14 July asked:

Do you think that disclosure of all the submissions is exempt
under
Section 38(1)(a) and (b) or does the exemption apply only to
submissions from certain categories of respondent (e.g. named
individuals)?

If it only applies to certain categories, please send any
information that does not fall into that category while you
consider the public interest test.

My email of 17 July indicated that the Department believed that section
38 was engaged in respect of all the submissions you have requested. To
the extent that some of these have been put into the pubic domain by
others the Department considers that the absolute exemption at section
21 is engaged. Under section 21 of the Act, the Department is not
required to provide information in response to a request if it is
already reasonably accessible to you.

In considering the balance of public interest under section 38 the
Department also concluded that the exemption at section 35(1) of the Act
is also engaged.

This section applies specifically to information held by government
departments. It provides that information is exempt if it `relates to:

(a) the formulation or development of government policy.'

The exemption in section 35(1)(a) is subject to the public interest test
which means that when the exemption is engaged it is necessary to
consider whether in all the circumstances of the case the public
interest in withholding the information outweighs the public interest in
disclosure.

The Department has therefore carried out public interest tests
in relation to the exemptions at both sections 35 and 38. The Department
has decided that the public interest lies in withholding the
information.

The results are as follows:

Section 35(1)(a)

Taken as a whole the considerations for disclosure add up to an argument
that more openness about the process may lead to better quality policy
formulation and development, greater accountability, an improved
standard of public debate, and improved trust. While in this instance
there was opportunity for key organisations and individuals to input
views, greater openness about the process may more generally lead to a
climate in which policy is not seen as a narrow preserve of Ministers,
officials and advisers, but one in which there is greater engagement by
the public.

Conversely the case for withholding rests principally in the nature of
the activity involved in policy making about highly sensitive and
emotive issues. Ministers and those advising them, including independent
experts and reviewers, need to have the necessary confidence and space
to carry out a difficult task effectively, while ultimately being able
to ensure, through the mechanism of publication of a final report, that
generic lessons can be identified and learned, that
thoroughly-considered policy recommendations can be made, and that
public interest and accountability are appropriately served. This is
important in all policy arenas where the disclosure of provisional or
tentative advice, or information which might be interpreted to reveal
reservations could have a distracting, disruptive or otherwise
detrimental effect on the continuing development of policies and their
delivery. It is particularly important to avoid such effects where there
could be adverse impact on the health and safety of individuals.

Having taken careful account of the arguments for both release and for
withholding, the Department takes the view that it is not in the public
interest for any submissions to the review of elective home education to
be released. Nor does it consider that any component parts of them
should be released. While there are general arguments for greater
openness and accountability in the policy making process, one of the
purposes of the report already published in this specific case is
precisely to provide a balanced and coherent overview of all the issues
without disclosing any sensitive information, and to satisfy the need
for public accountability. The paramount public interest lies in
ensuring that the independent report process is an effective method of
identifying the lessons that need to be learnt as swiftly as possible,
and that sound policy and implementation results; and this can only be
done when participating advisers, experts, officials and Ministers have
the necessary space and assurance of confidentiality. This is a
continuing area of policy development in a highly sensitive area and a
release of the submissions is highly likely to have a negative effect on
the development and delivery of key policies designed to safeguard
children and improve educational provision.

Section 38(1)(a) and (b)

The case for disclosure of information protected by this exemption rests
mainly on the desirability of greater openness for the purposes of
increasing public understanding and trust, and on encouraging the
greater accountability of professionals.

Conversely, it is likely that a deterrent effect would apply to
participation in, and co-operation with, review processes in the future,
leading to increased risk to vulnerable children. It is also reasonable
to expect, especially in the climate of vilification and harassment
surrounding the review that authors of submissions would be subjected to
similar treatment. Such action could never be justified. The most
effective precaution which could be taken to prevent anticipated danger
to individuals lies in not disclosing information which could put them
at risk.

Taking all these factors into account he Department takes the view that
it is not in the public interest for the submissions to be released in
whole or in part The purpose of the review report already published is
to provide a balanced and coherent overview without disclosing any
sensitive information, and this includes information which would put at
risk, or greater risk, the health and safety of individuals.

If you have any queries about this letter, please contact me. Please
remember to quote the reference numbers above in any future
communications.

If you are unhappy with the way your request has been handled, you
should make a complaint to the Department by writing to me within two
calendar months of the date of this letter. Your complaint will be
considered by an independent review panel, who were not involved in the
original consideration of your request.

If you are not content with the outcome of your complaint to the
Department, you may then contact the Information Commissioner's Office

Yours sincerely

Andrew Partridge

Information Rights Manager

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Dear Sir or Madam,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Department for Children, Schools and Families's handling of my FOI request 'Submissions to the Elective Home Education Review'.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/su...

In particular, I would like you to consider if there is any substance in the suggestion that there is "a climate of vilification and harassment surrounding the review" and "that authors of submissions would be subjected to similar treatment." I believe it is vital that this information is disclosed. The DCSF and ministers have exposed home educators to vilification and harassment by the terms in which this review and its report are couched, despite a lack of evidence. In fairness, home educators should be fully appraised of the reasons for which this was done and any substance on which it was based.

Yours faithfully,

Shena Deuchars

Department for Children, Schools and Families

Dear Ms Deuchars

Thank you for your recent email, dated 8 September, requesting an internal
review of previous correspondence ('Submissions to the Elective Home
Education Review'.). Could you please advise the case reference number
that would have been assigned to the specific correspondence in question,
in order that we may consider an internal review of that case.

Your current request has been allocated the reference number 2009/0077158

Yours sincerely

Josephine Bell
Indendent Schools Partnerships and Strategy Team

Department for Children, Schools and Families
[1]http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/index.htm

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References

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S Tyler left an annotation ()

We've been looking at the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Section 35 (2) and (2)a

"(2) Once a decision as to government policy has been taken, any statistical information used to provide an informed background to the taking of the decision is not to be regarded -
(a) for the purposes of subsection (1)(a), as relating to the formulation or development of government policy"

So under that subsection, they would have to release the information at some point before the bill comes before Parliament.

Of course this does nothing with regards to withholding info under Section 38...

Sam

Dear Josephine Bell,

I am astonished that you are apparently unable to do what I have just done and copy the case reference numbers from the other items in this thread.

Please examine cases 2009/0052984 and 2009/0063810.

Yours sincerely,

Shena Deuchars

Francis Irving left an annotation ()

Blog post about this request: http://irdial.com/blogdial/?p=2134

Department for Children, Schools and Families

Dear Ms Deuchars,
I refer to your request for internal review which was received on 8 September 2009 (reference 2009/0077158).

Before informing you of the outcome of the internal review, I should like to apologise for the delay in replying.
While I appreciate it is in no way a justification, I should like to explain that the Department makes every effort to
respond quickly to requests for information and internal reviews, but the delay in responding in this case has been
due to the unusual volume of requests the Department has received in recent months.

On 12 June you requested the information, `Please supply me with a copy of the submissions to the Elective Home
Education Review that were received from the bodies and professional experts listed in Annex B of Graham Badman's
report published 11 June 2009. For ease, I list the relevant bodies and experts.' A final response was sent to you on
8 September 2009.

The Department has now completed its internal review process and has carried out a thorough review of the case,
chaired by a senior officer who was not involved with the original request.

The purpose of the internal review was to re-examine the Department's response to your FOI request and to decide
whether the provisions of the Act have been applied correctly. The panel reviewed the information and discussed the
following points -

. That a substantive public interest test had been carried out in relation to the exemptions at both section 35
and 38, and that the Department had decided that the public interest lies in withholding the information.

. That in this case, releasing submissions to the review of elective home education, which is a continuing area
of policy development in a highly sensitive area, could discourage external partners from contributing to the future
development and delivery of key policies. That publication in whole or part could prejudice the free and frank
exchange of views because an independent review such as this one was dependent on participating parties having certain
assurances about confidentiality.

. That given the climate of vilification and harassment surrounding the review it was felt that the bodies and
experts may also be subjected to the same treatment. It was agreed that we would provide a link to the letter that
Andrew Partridge sent to the Information Commissioner in July 2009, which sets out the campaign against Graham
Badman. This letter can be found at:-

[1]http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/foischeme/subPage...

It was agreed unanimously that the balance of public interest - both at the time of the request and at the time of the
internal review - remained in withholding the information requested, and that the decision to withhold the information
under the exemptions at sections 38 and 35 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 would remain.

If you are unhappy with this decision, you have the right to appeal directly to the Information Commissioner. The
Information Commissioner can be contacted at:

The Case Reception Unit

Customer Service Team

Information Commissioner's Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire

SK9 5AF

Further information about the Information Commissioner's complaints procedure can be found on the Information
Commissioner's Office website: [2]http://www.ico.gov.uk/complaints/freedom...

Yours sincerely,

Penny Jones

Deputy Director

Independent Education and Schools Governance Division

[3]www.dcsf.gov.uk

Your correspondence has been allocated the reference number 2009/0077158.

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References

Visible links
1. http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/foischeme/subPage...
2. http://www.ico.gov.uk/complaints/freedom...
3. http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/

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