Big Issue features Home Education

What’s been said?

Sept 10th’s edition of the Big Issue features an article by Vicky Carroll entitled “How home education is on the rise as parents opt to keep kids out of schools”.

Carroll prefaces an account of the “challenges, advantages and joys” of HE by Mum-of-four Jax Blunt with an introductory paragraph of her own. Citing figures indicating a 40 per cent rise in numbers of children being educated at home in the UK between 2014 and 2017, she notes various reasons (“mental health issues, unmet special needs provision or avoiding exclusion”) why children may be withdrawn from school.

Carroll then highlights “a growing movement of parents choosing to reject the mainstream school system and instead home educate – not parroting a school curriculum but taking a radically different approach to learning, growth, skills and knowledge, centred around the interests of their child.” She rightly observes that this involves “considerable discipline, time management, creativity and commitment on the part of parents who choose to follow that path”, and follows up with Blunt’s personal account of her 15 years’ experience of EHE.

With her initial intention being to home educate her daughter during the primary years then consider secondary schooling, Blunt tells how home education has now featured positively in the lives of all four of her children. Overall her account is honest and informative, leaving readers with a clearer understanding of some of the plus-points of EHE.

Though not everyone will share her view that HE parents could be more motivated to engage with LAs if incentives such as access to exam provision were on offer, there is an overall tone of realism and honesty in Blunt’s overview, evidenced by comments such as, “It does require a level of dedication from the parent, particularly when the children are younger. Co-ordinating everything can be quite a challenge when you have got four children and they’re doing different things… The older children help, it really is a team effort. It makes your family come together.”

Why does it matter?

Blunt’s concluding words say it all really, “The biggest benefits are being able to personalise education to your child, being able to follow your child’s interests, being able to specialise at a younger age, being able to become an expert in whatever they want to do. That’s why we do it, because we can fit it to our children.”

This is an accessible, uncomplicated account of the “challenges, advantages and joys” of EHE, reported without excessive bias.

Articles on HE in “unexpected places” help to raise its profile amongst a different readership. They also demonstrate creative use by a seasoned home educator of another forum for sharing their experience with those who may know little about HE.

Blunt’s own blog offers further encouragement for those taking an unschooling approach to HE, including the classic statement in this year’s 30th July entry, “Children are born as little learning machines. It’s what they are designed to do. And as long as you don’t get in the way too much, they will do it all the time.”

What can I do?

Keep items like this in mind for those conversations where you might like to refer to further material on HE.

No matter where on the unschooling–more regimented spectrum you yourself have settled, be aware that your own experience of HE may be of great help and inspiration to another family who are not as far along the path as you. You don’t have to have completed the journey to be able to encourage other travellers. See for example the Letter To New Home Educators on the lifeloveandliterature blog.

You don’t have to achieve publication in a national paper in order to encourage someone – your local HE group or network is a good place to start reaching out. As Jax Blunt says in the Big Issue, digital technology has revolutionised communication in the HE world too, and networking and resource-sharing have never been easier.