Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Making money out of home education

A few days ago, some people were hinting that I was a mercenary wretch who would be making a packet selling my supposed expertise to local authorities if the law changed. Of course, there wasn't a word of truth in this. Frankly, the idea of any local authority employing me is pretty ludicrous, but it started me thinking about some of the people involved with home education who do seem to be making a bob or two out of it currently. The truth is, so many people both here and on various lists have talked of how shocking it is that somebody like me should seek to profit from home education, that I thought it worthwhile to see how others are doing so.

Of course there are quite a few people like me who make a couple of hundred pounds here and there by writing articles for the newspapers or tutoring other parent's home educated children. Some of the trustees of Education Otherwise pick up a bit of money in this way in "expenses" for interviews and so on. This is pretty small beer. We are the bottom feeders in the home education financial food chain!

Next up are people who use the home education lists to promote their businesses and drum up custom. Most of their clients seem to be home educators, so I think it fair to include them as making money out of home education. Catherine Mooney, for example, shamelessly touts for business on many of the HE lists, trying to get customers for her "Wordweaver" English course. This is a bit of racket really. One can download the English Language specification for GCSEs, the National Curriculum and so on for free. I can't imagine why anybody would pay for this material. Anybody who goes on the EO or HE-UK lists will recognise this name - Cradlecare. When I first saw this cropping up all over the place, I assumed that it was just an email name, rather like firebird or bornjoyful. It's actually a commercial company and advertising such things on Internet lists in this way is a very good way to publicise yourself. For any pregnant woman who has no friends or family, the person who runs this company will, for £500 , stay with you while you give birth. Actually, somebody spoke to her about using the lists to advertise her services like this. She managed to stop for a few days, but this is such useful free publicity that she is back at it again.

Those above are like me; home education is just another way to supplement their income. Some people however make a proper living out of it. Mike Fortune-Wood and his wife are in this category. Jan Fortune-Wood has published no fewer than five books on the subject and Mike has also written a few himself. Jan Fortune-Wood runs writing courses for home educated young people and Mike gets paid for training local authority officers. He and his wife are also listed as consultants for The Centre for Personalised Education Trust, which is based in Nottingham and run by the Meighans. Alison Sauer, who founded Sauer Consulting also trains local authorities about home education matters.

One or two people manage to make a very good living out of home education. Chief among these is an old friend. Step forward, Paula Rothermel. She is an expert witness and her services are in some demand for court cases where home education is involved. Below, you can see the sort of fees which she charges;

SCHEDULE OF EXPERT WITNESS FEES:
1.
For studying documents supplied, carrying out any necessary calculations and preparation of report, depending upon total work involved, minimum charge:
£200.00
2.
For subsequent preparation of Section 9 Statements, minimum charge:
£120.00
3.
For pre-court preparation, travelling to and attendance at court:
£90.00 per hour or £560.00 per whole day
4.
Travelling time for day prior to hearing (where required), or for site visitation:
£45.00 per hour
5.
Plus all expenses for hotels, mileage (at £0.45 per mile), fares, meals, parking
6.
Plus VAT as applicable
These rates are within the Lord Chancellor's recommended figures for Expert Witnesses.


Nice work if you can get it! At those sorts of charges, I too would be able to live comfortably in Switzerland, commuting to and from England every week. Makes my occasional £150 for an article look pretty feeble!

This is not an exhaustive list, by any means of those who pick up money out of home education. I rather assume that most home educating parents will make money out of it if the opportunity presents itself and nothing above is meant to be in the least degree pejorative. We all have to make ends meet as best we can.

41 comments:

  1. ROTFLOL! That rant was pretty funny and had a ring of truth about it, Simon.

    However, it's interesting how many times in your blog you use phrases such as this:

    'I can't imagine...' ( in this case...'why anybody would pay for this material'.)

    'I can't imagine', 'it's astonishing to me', 'who on earth would', 'why would any sane person', 'how could it be possible'? etc etc over and over again, in practically every entry! It's a strong theme thoughout your blog.

    It really does seem as though you've led a very sheltered life, HE-wise, if your imagination cannot stretch so far as to understand so many other home educators.

    In this case, your imagination cannot cope with the idea that someone may been under-confident in the teaching of modern IGCSE's and want a little help.

    You did not, presumably. You just downloaded the specifications, designed a 'course' yourself and entered your child for an exam when she was ready. Hats off to you!

    Many people however, find they need the reassurance of a third party for some exams, whom they are prepared to pay for. How is that sooooo difficult for you to imagine?

    Do you think you might be suffering from Chronic Imagination Deficiency Syndrome? Or perhaps you don't get out a lot? Sorry, I'm not trying to be mean here, as I know a lot of your commenters are, just trying to understand why you are so seemingly incapable of understanding so much about the rest of the HE community.

    Mrs Anon

    ReplyDelete
  2. These are merely rhetorical devices, Mrs. Anon! It is not for a moment to be supposed that when I exclaim, " I cannot conceive.." or "I am wholly unable to imagine...", that I am literally unable to conceive or imagine that of which I am writing. These flourishs are used for the purpose of emphasis. Of course I can understand why somebody would wish to engage a tutor for a subject; this happens a lot. What I do find astonishing is that with so much free material about reading and writing available on the Internet, somebody would send money off to a complete stranger who they have never met and about whom they know nothing and trust them to do better than they could themselves.

    ReplyDelete
  3. we not heard that news you said be on radio on posters about children missing education who to report this all to? they is some sort of advert for after schools clubs talks to you like your a 4 year old!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Well, perhaps because most tutors have never home educated their own children, whilst Catherine Mooney (as well as being a tutor and an examiner) is a home educating mother. That makes people feel somewhat safer about trusting her.

    BTW, that particular course is exceptionally good. I've seen it. OTOH, I've heard LOTS of horror stories about wasted money for private tutors/rubbish correspondence courses, but not a whisper of dissatisfaction about CM's course. And no, I am not her/she! (Delete as appropriate.){g}

    At the Lords meeting with HE'ers yesterday (or the day before) one Peer asked how parents could possibly teach subjects they were not experts in. This is one of the ways.

    Quite easy to imagine it when you try.

    Rhetorical devices? I think they are covered in Chapter One of Catherine's course.{g} It says they lose their effectiveness when overused.

    Mrs Anon

    ReplyDelete
  5. >>>>>>>>>>>we not heard that news you said be on radio on posters about children missing education who to report this all to? they is some sort of advert for after schools clubs talks to you like your a 4 year old!<<<<<<<<<

    I tried really hard to understand that...

    ReplyDelete
  6. Apropos of the above mystified comment, it has been suggested to me that something in the paint used to paint artifical limbs might have the effect of turning people into raving lunatics. Rather in the way that hatters became demented by the ingestion of mecury in Victorian times. This is, I think, the kindest explanation for Peter Williams od Alton's constitutional inability to put words together into a coherent sentence. Or perahps he needs to sign up for Catherine Mooney's "Wordweaver" course?

    ReplyDelete
  7. Why Mrs. Anon, what a glowing testimonial to Catherine Mooney and her wonderful course! You assure me that she is not really your secret identity and of course I am bound to accept your word on this.

    I too saw that fatheaded comment made during the meeting at the Lords, wondering how parents could teach science and langauges. Idiotic questions like that really do show the depth of ignorance surrounding the nature of home education and indeed education in general.

    ReplyDelete
  8. of turning people into raving lunatics. if i am mad report us then to Hampshire county council? surly you would not want some one who is mad to teach a child? we want our school attendance order but no one will send it!Why???? they must be a way to get one sent can you help??

    Why do you crawl up Balls backside Simon?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Mrs Anon said: At the Lords meeting with HE'ers yesterday (or the day before) one Peer asked how parents could possibly teach subjects they were not experts in. This is one of the ways.

    Wow. School teachers are experts in the subjects they teach, are they? Then why on earth are they teaching the very rudimentary basics of those subjects (and even then, only the particular parts specified by the government and required to pass the exam) to mostly dis-interested children? What a waste of 'expertise' that the physics teacher at the local comp is occupied trying to explain a basic equation to a child for the 1000th time, while simultaneously stopping Chesney from stabbing Gazza and telling the other 35 kids to sit quietly and wait. Perhaps he should be pondering the origins of the cosmos or prototyping his interplanetary fusion drive instead. Or perhaps not.

    It sounds like I'm trying to put down teachers, but I'm not. Some teachers are experts in their subjects, I daresay, but it's hardly necessary for the job. I remember having a few good teachers. They got to know and care about the children as individuals, they earned (not demanded) respect, and they found ways to inspire an interest in the subject *despite* the framework they were forced to teach it in. I'm sure such teachers still exist, and manage to do these things when they're not too busy ticking boxes and filling in forms.

    Either someone is interested in a subject, or they are not. (Although a talented teacher may be able to provoke that interest). An interested child will devour knowledge about a subject from anywhere they can get it, and to my mind there can be no more inefficient way of getting it than the teacher and 30-odd kids scenario. On the other hand, maybe you can force a reasonable percentage of children into temporarily memorising some stuff, sufficient pass an exam, after which they will promptly forget it and never be interested in the subject again for the rest of their lives. That other hand seems to describe most of the schooled adult population in my experience.

    ReplyDelete
  10. "The truth is, so many people both here and on various lists have talked of how shocking it is that somebody like me should seek to profit from home education, that I thought it worthwhile to see how others are doing so. "

    I think people are shocked by the fact that you profit from attacking *how* others choose to home educate, not that you are making money from HE, per se.

    "Those above are like me; home education is just another way to supplement their income. Some people however make a proper living out of it. Mike Fortune-Wood and his wife are in this category. Jan Fortune-Wood has published no fewer than five books on the subject and Mike has also written a few himself."

    I think it's already been pointed out that the LA training very rarely happens, I think the last one ran in 2007 and do you really think they make more from HE than they do from their publishing company, editing and writing of books unrelated to HE, etc. They publish over 25 books a year very few of which have anything to do with HE (I think the last one was published in 2007) and Jan has written far more non-HE books than HE books as well as editing even more. Speaking as a part author of a book in a niche market a little larger than HE I suspect you will soon find out how little profit is made by HE authors.

    However, the main difference between all the people you mention and you is that they make money from supporting people and/or enabling them to home educate in the way the individual HEer chooses (including supporting the right of people to HE in ways they would personally not choose), whereas you make money from attacking sections of the HE community for the way they choose to HE.

    ReplyDelete
  11. you must report us Simon to Hampshire County council it is your duty if you think some one mad is home educating a child?

    We want our school attendance order where is it? we soooooooo scared!
    Cant you get you mate Balls to send it?

    ReplyDelete
  12. You forgot the real money makers - the enforcers and inspectors. You can almost feel the glee of the LA departmental heads gearing up to expand their staff levels, budgets and consequently salaries. And of course, in a number of authorities, it will be companies like SERCO receiving the large sums of cash. What a shame they're all going to be disappointed.

    ReplyDelete
  13. The computer just ate my long post.... but the gist of it was that structured HE is such small scale here that I can't imagine anyone has made a huge amount of money of selling material in this country.
    If we are obsessing about who benefits financially from HE, I would probably be one of the winners; over the past few years fellow home educators have been extremely generous to us- sent us on holidays (and moved in to look after the children) and given us massive quantities of alcohol/edibles/ flowers ect. In fact they are paying for our meals on a holiday at Easter, which probably makes Simons few bob insignificant.......
    Talking of freebies, I managed to persuade Edexcel to let me attend the new GCSE maths training day in June; being held in a hotel with free lunch - no wonder it was heavily booked up with teachers- in my day you were lucky to get a rich tea biscuit!
    (Off to eat today's cake made by a girl who sat the maths module on Tuesday; sorry Mrs Anon!)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Looking at Paula's rates, they are not unreasonable in context. I got to do a bit of freelance work last year and I was given something between £90 and £100 an hour.

    Factor in the need to pay both employers and employees NI contributions and basic rate tax and you're down to £50/hour. I've always been told that when setting rates for short-term work, assume you'll only be doing paid work for half the time, so that nets about £44,000 a year, although it will drop a bit lower because it's gone above the higher-rate tax threshold so a bigger bite will come out.

    Some years will be very good and may provide almost 100% employment and double that figure, others may be bad and struggle to get to half of it.

    Now, if you go to the US West Coast, Bay Area or Los Angeles, there are large numbers of home-schooled children in a relatively small area and people can run a successful business providing classes aimed at them.

    ReplyDelete
  15. You infer I make a "proper living" out of home education Simon. Do tell me how much I make per year with respect to home education and how it equates to a "proper living"? I am intrigued. I was not aware that you had a copy of my private, internal accounts. There is certainly no public place where this information is available.

    I hope you remembered to take out the turnover our company has from other sources when you analysed them.

    And also please, get our company name right. Or did you copy the mistake Mr Badman made in his report as he is the only one who has ever called me that?

    Facts Simon, try sticking to them.

    ReplyDelete
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