Freedom for Children to Grow
The Law Relating to
Young people who are not in employment, education or training are categorised as NEETs.
Graham Badman repeatedly claims that home educated young people are four times as likely to be NEETs.
Graham Badman has conceded that the information is based on small scale convenience sampling but appears to believe nevertheless that the figures are robust.
NEETs statistics are collected from three sources, the Statistical First Release published annually in June, the quarterly Labour Force survey, and Connexions data published in September.
The NEET Statistics Quarterly Brief brings together all of these data sources into one single publication . The latest publication is available from the Research and Statistics Gateway.
Graham Badman was not directly involved in collecting data about NEETs during the latter half of September 2009. Baroness Morgan told Lord Lucas on December 16th that "the information gathering that followed the review did not incur any external costs as it was conducted by departmental officials".
It is not clear whether Graham Badman personally studied the raw data or whether he simply signed off the finished letters to the Select Committee.
Graham Stuart MP asked Graham Badman about NEETs at the Select Committee in October 2009. Graham Badman said they were 16-18 year olds. Civil servant Penny Jones stated categorically that the statistics were from "the count that takes place in September." Further exchange was prevented by the division bell.
Two weeks later Graham Badman wrote to the Chair of the Select Committee admitting that he had answered incorrectly and that in fact the figures were taken from the autumn survey of children who left ("or in the case of home educated children would have left") school the previous summer.
We are aware of a number of local authorities who attempted to inform the Department in September that it was not possible to give accurate information about home educated young people beyond the age of 16.
Examples from local authorities:
"This is very difficult to say as they could still be home educated retaking exams etc but we are no longer involved once they have passed statutory school age."
"Last academic year 2 children became NEET as Connexions were unable to engage with the families."
"EHE NEET numbers are not known"
Barnet specifically said that they would not be able to give Connexions data until it had been verified by Careervision, data management service.
In January 2010 Graham Badman gave evidence to Ministers and the Public Bill Committee as an expert witness. Mr Badman told Chloe Watson from HEYC: "you are not NEET because you have not registered for Connexions. The Connexions figures were the ones that gave the NEET figures, so those are the ones that were known."
Home educated young people do not routinely make themselves known to Connexions for a number of reasons. Those who are known to Connexions are likely to be seeking help for additional needs or special requirements and could be categorised as NEET during the period where Connexions was not able to offer meaningful assistance.
When Graham Badman visited a home education group in Kent last March he challenged the group over the fact that a high proportion of home educated children were NEET.
Ann Newstead followed this up with Graham Badman's assistant and was told that "the NEET data came from an LA who'd done some quick analysis on their Connexions data." Ann pointed out that anecdotes from a single LA did not constitute robust evidence.
Home educators have repeatedly raised concerns over new data which the Government wishes to collect on home educators. We have expressed the fear that statistics will be misused and misinterpreted. Our experience with Graham Badman and the NEETs figures demonstrates that our concerns were wholly justified.