A tragic death of a child, social services under fire, and homeschooling is being blamed:
The British government’s lead expert on education is pointing to the tragic death of a Birmingham child, who had been taken out of school by her mother, as an illustration of the need for more government regulation of homeschooling.
Khyra weighed just 37 pounds when she was rescued from her home by paramedics, along with five of her siblings. She and her brothers and sisters had been subjected to a regime of beatings, starvation and torture by their mother Angela Gordon, and her live-in “partner” Junaid Abuhamza. The court proceedings revealed that the mother, a convert to Islam, believed the abuse would drive out an “evil spirit” from the children. Both Gordon and Abuhamza have been convicted of manslaughter in the case.
Graham Badman, the former Director of Children’s Services at Kent County Council, said on Friday that, “What this tragedy points out is the need for absolute clarity about the roles and responsibilities of local authorities in intervening and supporting families who move children into elective home education.”
However, a judge involved in the case of Khyra Ishaq and her siblings, wrote last year that it was the failure of local social services that contributed to the child’s death. Mrs. Justice King said, “Had there been an adequate initial assessment and proper adherence by the educational welfare services to its guidance, she would not have died.”
Fiona Nicholson, trustee of home education charity Education Otherwise, told the Guardian newspaper, “Ofsted [the government education authority] has already found that Birmingham is failing to protect children and questions have been raised over the high number of child deaths in the last few years. For anyone to blame home education is a red herring designed to distract attention from Birmingham’s lamentable child protection record.”
Hard cases make bad law.