Home education as a risk factor in the Child Risk Assessment Matrix (CRAM)

I note that a number of people are now getting worked up about this, including Mike Fortune-Wood of Home Education UK. He tried to make a Freedom of Information request to Community Care magazine, but not surprisingly, they sent him off with a flea in his ear. They were still laughing about that in the office an hour later. His latest communication trying to find out about the CRAM document contains the extraordinary phrase, 'it behoves of yourself to explain your thinking'! I wonder if this is how he talks in real life? I imagine him at the breakfast table with his wife, saying, 'It behoves of yourself to pass me the marmalade dear'.

Anyway, his latest thoughts on the subject is that, 'we need to look into this' Well while others are making Freedom of Information requests, annoying magazine editors and mangling the English language hideously, I thought that I would speak to the man who actually compiled the Child Risk Assessment Matrix and see what he had to say about the matter. It will be remembered that a particular anxiety was that home education had apparently been highlighted in red as a special concern. This all turns out to be a complete mare's nest. The red bits on the CRAM form as reproduced in Community Care are, according to Inspector Tony Kelly who wrote the thing, nothing to do with the document. He thinks that they are just something that has crept in at some point. He certainly did not include them when he put this document together. I asked about the inclusion of home education at all and what he told me was very interesting. The first victim risk factors such as Subject to a Child Protection order and Victim's Injury caused by a Weapon are definite risk factors. The final three, Disability, Private Fostering and Home Education, are things which may be risk factors. These three are to be treated separately from the others. In training, it is emphasised that disability or home education are not of themselves risk factors at all, but when combined with some of the genuine risk factors may be significant. So rather than home education being seen as a particularly dangerous risk factor, as some had feared, it is not really seen as a risk factor at all.

I am bound to say that I have no idea at all why people have to mess around with Freedom of Information requests and so on with a simple thing like this. I rang the Metropolitan Police, asked who had written the CRAM and then asked for his telephone number. After that I just rang him and had a perfectly friendly chat about it. The whole exercise took less than ten minutes. If more home educators adopted this sort of low key approach, then they might get better results generally.