Doing the maths

I mentioned in passing yesterday that 99.9% of people sent their children to school. Upon which, predictably enough, somebody challenged me to 'do the maths'. Actually, the real figure is probably even less than this. The most thorough study attempting to discover the prevalence of home education in this country was the survey carried out in nine local authority areas by York Consulting. This took place in 2006 and was called; The Prevalence of Home Education in England: A Feasibility Study. In the nine local authority areas at which they looked, Hopwood et al found that the percentage of home educated children know to the authority varied between 0.09 and 0.42. this is less than half the 0.1 which I suggested yesterday. Even these figures may be inflated. When Ofsted conducted a study in fifteen local authority areas, they discovered that the numbers of electively home educated children fluctuated wildly throughout the year. In one authority, there were six hundred and thirty in September, but this had dropped to four hundred and thirty or so by June. People begin in September, full of enthusiasm and then a third of them have given up by Christmas!

York Consulting were criticised for choosing local authority areas with a high proportion of Gypsy/Roma/Traveller families and this too could have artificially inflated the numbers, as compared with the other hundred and forty or so local authorities at which they did not look. Even if you assume that the numbers of home educated children are roughly double that of those actually known to the local authorities, this would still only give a maximum figure of 0.84% of children aged between five and sixteen, well below the 0.1 which I claimed yesterday.

I notice that in his revamped website, Mike Fortune-Wood is suggesting that there might be eighty thousand children being educated at home. I am curious to know upon what he bases this figure. He seems to have taken the number of children known to local authorities at the beginning of the year, rounded it up and then quadrupled it! I would be interested to know his rationale for this method of calculation. One might as well simply multiply by the date and add the change in your pocket in order to obtain a figure!