The motives of civil servants

One again, I find myself baffled at the interpretation which some home educators are putting upon current events. As most readers know by now, plans are being made for a change in the law allowing schools to keep a pupil on roll for twenty days after deregistering for home education. Over on the HE-UK list, this is being blamed upon civil servants at the Department for Education who are determined to push through the recommendations of the Badman report. The only question which I find myself unable to answer is, why would they want to do that? In other words, what is their motive, what do they stand to gain from this action? Let us look at the matter objectively.

One can see that local authority officers might have a stake in new regulations about home education. They might be able to make their jobs more secure and look as though they are saving children from abuse by playing up the need for monitoring home educated children. I don't personally believe that this is their primary motivation, but this idea is at least plausible, particularly with all the cuts being made by local authorities at the moment. But civil servants? They have job security; it is almost impossible to sack an established civil servant except for gross misconduct. Civil servants move routinely from one ministry to the other; somebody in the Department for Education today might well end up in the Ministry of Defence next year. Those working for the DfE are not at all committed to any particular method of education or policy on education. How would it possibly make the least bit of difference to them whether or not deregistration of pupils took immediate effect or was delayed for twenty days? Why would they even care; they're not going to be implementing the policy.

I have been giving this a good deal of thought and looking at it from all angles, but however I turn it round in my mind, I just cannot see why any civil servant at the Department for Education should give a stuff about encouraging ministers to implement the recommendations of the Badman report. What on earth is in it for them? I would be glad if any readers can explain this to me. I was myself a civil servant at one time and this really does not tie in with how I remember things. Mind you, that was forty years ago and perhaps things have changed since then. So let's see if anybody can come up with a convincing reason why any civil servant should still be trying to get Schedule 1 of the Children, Schools and Families Bill into law. This is not faux naivete, but rather genuine bewilderment as to what any civil servant would gain were any one of Badman's recommendations to be made law. Help me out here; I am puzzled!