Friday, 29 June 2012


A fellow home educator in an email, once described home ed as a 'more wholesome' method of learning than school. I've been really contemplating this lately and I thought I'd write down some of my thoughts.

Wholesome is defined in the Free Dictionary as:

whole·some (hlsm)
adj. whole·som·er, whole·som·est
1. Conducive to sound health or well-being; salutary: simple, wholesome food; a wholesome climate.
2. Promoting mental, moral, or social health: wholesome entertainment.
3. Sound; healthy. See Synonyms at healthy.
I immediately think of wholesome food. We're advised to eat heathy, wholesome foods in order to be healthy. Eating well helps us to perform better, live longer and be happier.
In The Family, A Proclamation to the World the Prophet tells us:
"Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities."
What are wholesome recreational activities? I guess it's the same as food. They're activities which help us perform better, live longer and be happier. Activities which bring us closer as families, help us to relax, don't detract from the life we want to live. Watching good movies, playing sports, carrying out acts of service to name but a few.
So, how does this relate to education? A wholesome education should be one that helps us to perform better, live longer and be happier.
I want to help my children live wholesome lives and have a wholesome education.
I want them to experience as much of life as they can.
I want them to differentiate between what I believe is right and wrong.
I want them to be able to perform both in their personal lives and also in their future working and family lives.
I want them to live long and happy lives.
I want them to be children for a long as possible without fear of failure due to standardised testing, bullying, red pen marking and time restraints.
I want them to have access to clean toilets and helthy food when they need it.
I want them to have so many opportunities for learning that we can't get them all onto the calendar.
If I can achieve these aims for them and more importantly WITH them, then I will feel satisfied that I have provided them not only with a wholesome education, but a wholesome childhood.

Wimbledon and the physics of a tennis ball

Yesterday we were watching a bit of Wimbledon together and we got to talking about how tennis balls work. I've never really spent much time considering it to be honest but that's the beauty of home ed.

So today, we put a tennis ball in the fridge for a few hours and then dropped it alongside a room temperature ball to see what would happen. (I won't tell you if you don't know)

Then we pretended to be molecles. First of all they were molecules in a solid. They all stood rigidly together so that I couldn't move one without the other. Then they were molecules in water. When I 'poured' them into a square pot, they took the shape of the pot. Then we all became gas molecules. I was running round like a mad thing and suddenly caught sight of George 1 looking at me in utter disbelief and he said "you've gone hyperactive!" I was just very happy that he'd understood the concept.

I then acted as if I was a molecule in the gas inside a tennis ball, and showed them how a tennis ball bounces. They thought it was hysterical.

They then wanted to put a tennis ball in the freezer too and when we got back from a firebuilding activity at the City Farm, they immediately got their tennis balls out to carry on the experiment. I think they felt sorry for the frozen gas molecules all hunched up and lacking energy!

All in all, it's been a perfect home ed day and has got me over my little wobble that I had earlier on in the week.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

A few thoughts on monitoring

One of the questions that I am frequently asks by friends and others that I meet, relates to monitoring and testing and the National Curriculum. Once again, like other questions that I have attempted to answer, it;s a valid thought and requires time in answering. Although I may be asked it daily, to the enquirer, it's what education is ultimately about. When children are in school they are constantly monitored, they are tested, reports are sent home to parents, OFTED inspectors make sure that schools are performing, there are league tables and results that help parents to choose a school. The national curriculum has been designed to enable children in school to learn a variety of subjects. It's by no means an exhaustive list of things to learn, but it provides a base line for education. This is what the majority of people consider education to be, a list of subjects set out that all children need to know about. Of course, later on those subject become exams which are viewed as necessary for future life by employers and further education establishments.

So, the simple answer to the question is: NO. We are not monitored or OFSTED inspected and we don't need to follow the National Curriculum.

The law as laid out in the Education Act 2006 states:

“The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient
full-time education suitable –
(a) to his age, ability and aptitude, and

(b) to any special educational needs he may have,

either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.”

If you wish to read the guidelines you can do so here Elective Home Education Guidlines for Local Authorities

The guidelines go on to explain to the local authority what their duties are in relation to home educating families.

2.7 Local authorities have no statutory duties in relation to monitoring the quality of home
education on a routine basis.

This is very clear instruction. It does go on to say however, that the LA can intervene if it comes to their attention that a child is not receiving suitable education, however, it is not their role to monitor. Yet, many many home educators are hounded by their local authorites. Visits are requested, work is asked to be seen, some even ask to speak with the children. No one goes into school to speak with the children from the LA. It is a teachers role to check on progress and welfare of the child. At home, it is the parents role and reponsibility.

Just to clarify, parents of home educated children are NOT required to:
teach the National Curriculum

provide a broad and balanced education

have a timetable

have premises equipped to any particular standard

set hours during which education will take place

have any specific qualifications

make detailed plans in advance

observe school hours, days or terms

give formal lessons

mark work done by their child

formally assess progress or set development objectives

reproduce school type peer group socialisation
match school-based, age-specific standards.

So, what can the LA do to find out of an education is taking place? The LA has the right to make informal enquiries relating to the educational provision in the home. The parent is advised to have contact with the LA, however, this does not need to include a visit.

Some parents may welcome the opportunity to discuss the provision that they are making
for the child’s education during a home visit but parents are not legally required to give
the local authority access to their home. They may choose to meet a local authority
representative at a mutually convenient and neutral location instead, with or without the
child being present, or choose not to meet at all. Where a parent elects not to allow access
to their home or their child, this does not of itself constitute a ground for concern about the
education provision being made. Where local authorities are not able to visit homes, they
should, in the vast majority of cases, be able to discuss and evaluate the parents’ educational
provision by alternative means. If they choose not to meet, parents may be asked to provide
evidence that they are providing a suitable education. If a local authority asks parents for
information they are under no duty to comply although it would be sensible for them to do
Parents might prefer, for example, to write a report, provide samples of work, have their
educational provision endorsed by a third party (such as an independent home tutor) or
provide evidence in some other appropriate form.

A letter from a parent should, in most cases be enough to satisfy that education is being provided.

I hope that this has helped to answe some of the questions that many of my non home educator readers may have regarding monitiring and the national curriculum.

P.S. A word about safeguarding

Lots of people share a concern that home education is a way of concealing abuse. There is evidence that suggests that there is no more abuse amongst home educators than amongst schooled children. In fact, there is likely to be less. Even if the LA was entitled to monitor on an annual basis, it would be unlikely that any abuse would be picked up. Protection from children at risk is of course extremely important, however, home education should NEVER be viewed as abuse. I personally feel that denying a child the right to an education is a form of abuse, but again, it is not the primary issue with regards to monitoring. Safeguarding is a separate and important issue and one that the majority of home educators find very difficult as the finger is easily pointed.

Swindon Recycling Centre trip

Last week we had the privilege of visiting the Swindon Recycling centre. It was a fascinating visit and really highlighted how important it is to recycle. Here is a picture of George 2 standing by a can mountain.

This is just one weeks worth of cans from the 52% of people who recycle in Swindon! Thats's a lot of cans, but still that number again go to landfill.

Once they've been crushed they're put into cubes like these and transported to a place where they're made into new cans.

I'm grateful to people for organising trips like this. It's another example of the opportunities available to home educated children

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Olympic fever

We've started our Olympics project now. As we learn, we're going to decorate a table cloth. It's a lot more exciting than worksheets that's for sure. The Olympic rings were fun to do, making sure that they all linked the right way. Then George 1 designed his own torch with George 2 drawing the flame.

At his knitting group today, George 2 (who you must remember is just 5) made a scarf with coloured pompons on the ends. He chose the olympic flag colours for his pompoms.

The picture of Georgiana is just because she's so drop dead gorgeous!