We home educated our daughter Amy due to life-threatening allergies – she is now 30 years old.
We wrote a letter to the ‘authorities’ when Amy was five, to inform them that we were going to home educate. Although, they tried to create the impression that school was mandatory – it is not. Education is compulsory, but schooling is not.
The education department at that time did not help with any advice or educational literature and I do not expect it has changed. They came to inspect now and again – probably three times – to see if we were supplying a workstation and educational workbooks etc. They were more concerned about child abuse and were looking to see if she was withdrawn or bruised, which was unfortunate as she was and still is very keen on karate. In light of the information coming out about the care system, they should have been looking closer to home for abuse. We did not have to follow the curriculum and they did not test her abilities, only asking simple questions periodically. I did not believe in the beginning about autonomous learning, but to a large degree this is how children learn – with encouragement not a stick. It would be much easier now with the internet, especially with the faster speeds we now enjoy.
Most people worry about socialising. Although, home educating was quite unusual back then, we found others (mainly through Education Otherwise – see below) and even founded a social group to ease the parents worries and to enable the children to participate in group activities such as Nativity Plays. Bearing in mind the state of the education system at the moment and the increased popularity of home educating, I can only imagine the opportunities now.
“Our name comes from the Education Act, which states that parents are responsible for their children’s education, ‘either by regular attendance at school or otherwise’; the fact is that education is compulsory, but schooling is not.”
When Amy went to hairdressing college, she took an extra night class for GCSE maths and aced it, even though, she was really poorly at the time. She would go into college, sit the exam (it was in several parts on different days) and then would come home and go straight to bed in the afternoon. Amy wanted to take this extra exam to prove to herself that she could do it and thought maths was her weakest subject, obviously she was mistaken. Especially, as in this weekly course the first teacher was completely incompetent – he made lots of errors. He was eventually replaced, but not until the course was well underway. It is the luck of the draw as to the competency of the teacher. Amy did not bother with any more exams as she saw very little point. She is self-employed now and is very driven and successful. More importantly she is happy and everyone loves her.
It was hard for all of us, especially the teenage years, but I do not regret a single moment and she is very bright and resourceful. I cannot in all honesty accept most of the credit – it was all Amy.
I am more than willing to offer any help I can.
With kind regards.