The Big Decision

A couple of months ago, two of our daughters were bemoaning the state of education in our area. They are concerned that the quality of education being delivered is suffering due to cutbacks in funding from the government and the local council. That and the fact that good teachers, in many schools, are struggling to provide the education they wish to. They are expected to manage larger and larger class sizes on less and less money. Many are becoming disillusioned and moving on, leaving classes being taught by a constant stream of often inexperienced supply teachers. The result is that the OFSTED reports for some schools in our area are pretty damning. One daughter is concerned about the quality of education being delivered by the local secondary school to which her daughter should be transferring next year. This school is part of an “Academy” which is administered and funded by a company in a completely different county! There was much discussion of the pros and cons of home education between them and us grandparents before the final decision was made. Netti is the first to make the move to home education; at the end of the spring term Paul found the official de-registration letter from a home education group website and prInted it off, which Netti signed and gave to the school, letting them know that her children would not be returning for the summer term. To be fair, the school has been very understanding and supportive of her decision. During our discussions it had been decided that Paul would take on the bulk of the day to day educating with input from Netti and myself as appropriate. Paul has also joined several home education groups and we have been quite surprised at the number of people in our area who had opted for this route.

For the first few weeks we have made the decision not to pursue a formal timetable but to allow the children to get used to the idea of having the freedom to choose their subjects and to learn at their own pace. The only timetable we have is set around Nettis working hours. A good amount of their learning has been through getting out and experiencing the world outside the classroom. It is amazing what information the three of them take in and understand. Harry, in particular has surprised us with his reading ability and understanding of what he has read. When visiting museums or historic buildings he wanders along reading all the information boards. If he finds anything of particular interest he will drag us all along to look whilst he explains it to us. Joey enjoys his information in bite sizes, which is the level he should be for his age. He is one of those unfortunate children who, because they were born just before the cut-off date for the school year, was the youngest in his year. Which meant that he was having to achieve the same level of work as the oldest in the year who was, all baring a couple of days, a full year older the he was. Now, his learning is geared to him. Paul has found that if he is allowed to wander off once his mind has stopped taking in the information, he will soon return, ready to learn a little more. Lillian has been the hardest to wean off the idea of formal education since she has been in school the longest but she is beginning to enjoy the benefits.

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