Well Done, Boys!

What’s been said?

After our report on the successes of some home educated girls, it seemed appropriate to follow up with three recent news stories showcasing the varied achievements of some HE boys.

Young Harry Romer received significant media attention during the time he featured in ITV’s recent The Voice Kids series. The 19 July edition of Somerset Live featured a video and article on the fourteen year old, commenting, “Harry is a familiar sight on the streets of Bath, where he busks for an hour a day in between his school studies, wowing shoppers with his stunning vocals and pop hit covers. … Mum Susie Romer, who home schools Harry and her other six children in Bear Flat, has urged Bathonians to tune in and follow the progress of her young son.”

With prolific support from all his family which made a clear impact on the show’s coaches, Harry battled his way from Blind Auditions through Knockout and Semifinal levels to reach the Finals on 21 July. See him pictured here [third from right] along with the other five finalists, and watch his performance.

On 20 July the Brent & Kilburn Times reported “Home-schooled Willesden Green boys scoop pioneer award for water saving invention”.

Fourteen year old Elye Cuthbertson, his nine-year-old brother Saul and their friends Alex Lynch and Atticus Ticheli won the award at the annual BT Tech4Good Awards. The Cuthbertson boys had previously reached the finals of a European Lego robotics contest in Tenerife in 2016, and later developed their Water Watcher device “to tackle the issue of water being wasted due to taps being left on as a result of people’s memory loss, dementia, dyslexia or brain injury.” Organisations such as Thames Water, WaterWise and Alzheimer’s Society have acknowledged the device’s potential “to save water and prevent flooding”

On 30 July North Wales’ Daily Post highlighted another young man’s success under the heading, “The student homeschooled on Bardsey Island who’s been given two top University awards”. After learning that Ben Porter moved with his parents and sister to the remote island off the Llŷn Peninsula in 2007 when he was 11 years old, readers are told that the now 22-year-old “has become a gifted wildlife photographer, with his work appearing in many prestigious publications. Recently he led an expedition… to collect data on non-visible pollutants in the Arctic Ocean.. to increase public awareness.”

Ben’s father Steve, who shared the home education with his wife, admitted to initial concerns about the move, but said they have “never had any regrets”, adding that “Ben has been shaped by his unique island upbringing.”

The article concludes that “island life obviously suited Ben, because as well as gaining a first class honours degree in Conservation Biology from Exeter University, he was also awarded the Dean’s Commendation for Exceptional Performance, Royal Society of Biology’s Top Student Award and the award for the highest overall grade in biosciences.”

Why does it matter?

Music and entertainment; the development and application of technology; wildlife photography, biosciences and environmental awareness – these stories demonstrate in a wide-ranging way that it is possible for home educated young people to follow their own interests and make quality contributions in their chosen field.

They supply us with further anecdotal evidence of HE youngsters succeeding and thriving outside the system, using their talents, achieving their goals with the support of their families – and certainly not being invisible.

What can I do?

As previously suggested, make a mental note of accounts such as these for those moments when you might need an example to illustrate a point you are making about HE.

But also be aware that one of the paradoxes or undesired consequences of a higher profile for home education and its increasing popularity, could be that more pressure is stirred up for greater regulation or control. So do not neglect to think through the underlying issues and be ready with constructive answers for those who may wish to curtail the freedom currently enjoyed by home educating families to achieve their goals in their own way and by their own means.