Iain Duncan Smith, in his speech to the Conservative Party conference this year, gave the simple answer to at least part of this question. In his constituency many parents have come to him to say that they are so dissatisfied with state education provision that they are taking back responsibility for their children's education and providing for them within the home.
If Biddy Passmore had con-tacted any of the support groups (Education Otherwise, Home Education Advisory Service and Schoolhouse, to name but three), she would have been left in no doubt as to the magnitude of the recent upsurge in children receiving home-based education - up to 100,000 in England and Wales and 4,000 in Scotland.
The figures are not known absolutely because many parents want little or nothing to do with the local authorities which are seen as having failed their children.
The use of the Fred West quote from an anonymous website correspondent introduced a jarring note to the article which was, quite frankly, insulting to the many thousands of home educators who have only their children's best interests at heart.