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March 2009: rumours spread by the London Safeguarding Network have had the desired "cascade effect" and borne fruit in producing the Home Education Review. Unfortunately, scaremongering and innuendo is working. One of the latest consequences is a scandalous public comment associating home education with child murder and quoting the tragic Victoria Climbie case. What follows is the AHEd members' letter to the NSPCC and the non response we received along with every other person who made any complaint at all about the comments of NSPCC policy advisor V. J. Patel.



Letter to NSPCC:


For the attention of: the Chief Executive; cc. Child Protection Policy Advisor.


Dear Sir,



AHEd [1] has received a number of member complaints concerning the outrageous comments of Mr. Vijay Patel reported in the Independent newspaper today [2] which we believe abuse the memory of a murdered child for political ends to falsely conflate her death with a minority group and to express a causal link between home educators and child abuse.


Mr Patel is quoted: "Some people use home education to hide. Look at the Victoria Climbié case.

We object in the strongest terms possible to these comments. It is our view that the comments demonstrate a clear prejudice against home educators and a deliberate attempt to implicate home education with false evidence and scandal in order to prejudice the outcome of the government Review into Home Education.



Mr Patel has already admitted publicly [3] that there is no link between home education and child abuse. Now, however, he is deliberately implying that Victoria Climbie was home educated, hidden from the authorities, abused and murdered without their knowledge by home educators!



This is shocking considering that both Mr Patel and the NSPCC must know that this little girl, who was not a home educated child, but was known to a number of authorities and to the local education authority was not murdered in secret hidden from their view whilst being home educated, as confirmed by the Laming enquiry; and in view of the fact that the NSPCC was forced to apologise for its part in the failure of those responsible to help Victoria over an extended period prior to her death [4] In fact, Victoria is one of the many cases now in the public domain in which it has been demonstrated that those charged with helping children in need failed in their duties towards a child, resulting in further suffering and death. [5] 


We note that the Victoria Climbie Foundation are also very worried about this misrepresentation from an official of the NSPCC [6]


We are appalled that Mr. Patel, the NSPCC Child Protection Policy Advisor, is propagating libelous attacks against a conscientious and law abiding minority and wonder if it is NSPCC policy that home education is linked to child abuse?


We call for a full and prominent public apology and retraction of the comments by Mr. Patel in the Independent today, and a withdrawal of the NSPCC from the review.



Yours faithfully,



(Chair, AHEd.)



[1] http://ahed.pbwiki.com 

[2] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/schools/is-the-government-right-to-be-concerned-about-homeschooling-1631969.html 

[3] http://sometimesitspeaceful.blogspot.com/2009/01/transcript-of-radio-2-jeremy-vine-show.html 

[4] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/head-of-nspcc-apologises-for-climbie-mistakes-661252.html

[5] Excerpt from Lord Laming's Speech at the National Social Services Conference 2003: “I remind you that in the ten months Victoria was alive in this country she was known to no fewer than four Social Services Departments, three Housing Departments and two specialist Police Child Protection Teams. Furthermore she was admitted to two different hospitals because of suspicions she was being deliberately harmed and she was referred to a specialist Child and Family Centre managed by the NSPCC.

 [6] http://www.victoria-climbie.org.uk/



Follow up:


Dear Sirs,



Please see the letter below, which was widely publicised on forums, blogs and social networking internet sites, but to which I have not myself received a response. Would you please let me know when I, as the person who sent this letter on behalf of AHEd members, can expect a response?





(Chair, AHEd.)




NSPCC Respond:


Dear Barbara



Thank you for contacting us with your enquiry.  Please accept our apologies for the delay in responding to you.  



The NSPCC would like to clarify its position regarding home education. We would like to make it clear that the NSPCC is not against home education and that as regards schooling we believe parents should have the right to decide what is in the best interests of their children.


We sincerely regret any offence caused by the quote attributed to Vijay Patel in The Independent. There was no intention to imply a connection between home education and Victoria Climbie's tragic death.


Our concern is about the safety of children. Those educated at home should have the same right to protection as those taught in school. This is what we have asked the government to consider in its current review. Our mission is to end cruelty to children, and to ensure that all children are effectively safeguarded, however or wherever they are educated.






Duty Enquiries Officer

NSPCC Library and Information Service

Weston House

42 Curtain Road

London EC2A 3NH

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