Many of you will know that we took the decision to take our son Tim out of school at the end of the last academic year. One of the first steps we took was to go online and start digging around, seeing what we needed to sort out first.
The first obligatory step was to send a letter to the headmaster of Tim’s school and state our intention. After this had been done, it was then his responsibility to pass this information on to the local education authority. They in turn contact the parents of the child to organise a first home visit to check that the child is in fact receiving a full-time education appropriate to his or her needs, age, etc. The welfare of the child is their top concern.
Well, we found out pretty quickly that, in fact, once you have taken your child out of school, the stress stops. There is no obligation to do anything in any particular way. You are free to choose your own subjects, choose how you do them, how much you do of them, how long you do them each day.
You also don’t have to agree to having a home visit from a representative of the local education authority and can make alternative arrangements to meet them outside of the home. The rep will want some sort of proof, evidence that you have been teaching your child, but the form that this takes is pretty much left up to you, as the parent.
However, we found out quite quickly that the South Gloucestershire LEA has its own particular policies and likes the parents to do things in a certain way. We also found out that is makes sense to get on their side so that you don’t run into any difficulties and keep things flowing easily.
So despite the fact that the law states otherwise, we went along with what was asked of us for this first visit, as it didn’t feel it would make any sense to go into the defensive on our first encounter. This video documents how the visit went:
Contrary to expectations our visitor turned out to be very friendly and agreeable. Even Tim warmed quickly to her, especially after our cat Lakshmi came into the room and wanted some cuddles from all and sundry.
We found ourselves sharing all the details about what we had lined up, what subjects Tim was studying to start with, what materials we had and were intending to use, how we were approaching the learning, what we saw as our goals in the long term and many other things. We spent the rest of the time having some lovely social chat and finding out lots of really interesting things unrelated to home education.
In the aftermath of this it became apparent to us that we weren’t tied down by any time constraints and that there was no rush for anything, least of all for accumulating certificates.
I’ve been delighted to discover that many home educated kids end up getting access to all sorts of interesting courses even when they haven’t done official exams. Many further educations institutions don’t insist on a basic number of GCSE’s and are quite happy to take on youngsters who have been learning from home.
So right now we can see that indeed all is well. There is no rush and no pressure to be or do anything other than stay present with this situation and take one step at a time.