Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Good practice in elective home education in North Yorkshire

I thought that this clip from Youtube might be worth watching. It shows the sort of thing which can happen when there is a little bit of good will on both sides. Interestingly enough, I understand that Alison Sauer helped train the local authority officer who features in it.

I love the fact that the father remarks that he enjoys the group because 'it is about education'! Whoa, steady on there! Radical stuff. What else would a home education group be about, one wonders? Very revealing comment.


  1. Note the preoccupation with process and indicators of achievement ('outputs' and awards) and the noticeable absence of the celebration of anybody actually learning anything. ('Now I understand how the subjunctive works! or 'It was brill! We figured out how gas giants were formed!') The group might have been about 'education' but it didn't look to me as if it was much about learning.

  2. "What else would a home education group be about, one wonders?"

    We are part of a number of different home education groups that all differ slightly in their focus. Some have a social focus - getting together so the children can play and the adults can chat. That's what we've been doing this afternoon. Our daughter is part of another group where the children (all 10+) get together to do a specific activity for a two hour session - mostly withour parents. This term she's doing green woodworking, some hands-on science and a cookery course. All this is organised by home educating families with no input from the local authority at all - costs and skills are shared. Our son goes to a group for younger children (6 to 12) where he plays games and does activities with a play worker and a different parent each week - all volunteering on a rota basis. Once again that's all parent organised and funded by the members and fundraising.

    I think that home ed gatherings can vary a great deal - some more overtly 'educational' than others. Of course, there's plenty of learning to be done when playing with other children.

  3. It seems like the makers of the film had a specific agenda, to create the impression that these families were isolated, and had no clue. Was the purpose of the film to try to get more funding beyond the initial one-off year?

    They used quotes that gave the impression the kids had never been to an HE group before or at least not one that wasn't just a social group. 'Meeting people' seemed to be the main need filled. How odd.

    I suppose there might be families like this and anything Connexions has to offer could meet this need, but our experience of HE groups and the community which they express has been so much richer and diverse.

    For eg
    1. Social groups with time for both networking for parents and educational sessions for the kids at the same meeting.
    2. Age-related social group for older kids held in the evenings.
    3. Learning-focussed groups moving towards sitting examinations together.
    4. Faith-based groups where activities were planned around a shared belief about God.
    5. Activity-based groups which just met for something like skating/swimming/fencing lessons.

    I don't believe that our experinces were terribly unusual. In the 3-4 counties surrounding ours, the same things are happening.

    However, one of the parents in the film did say that they tended to 'just work at home', so I suppose maybe the idea behind the film, that Connexions rescued them from ignorance and social isolation, may have been true for these parents.

    I do wish LA's would point new HE'ing parents towards the HE community and all the wonderful groups there are, for social and educational purposes. Then there'd be no need for special projects like this.

    Mrs Anon

  4. Actually, I do think that there are a surprisng number of home educators "out there" who are not involved with any group even though they do "know" local groups exist. Our LA does give out our group leaflets to any new contact and the EWO's and inspectors take them on home visits, plus we do frequent library displays etc. Yet talking to home educating families who do eventually get in touch, I often discover that they haven't done previously for a number of reasons. These are families who have often removed their children from school and whose children may have already established "social lives" (Scouts etc). The families themselves are fairly structured and seem reluctant to take time out of a "school-day" for purely social events. The most significant thing though is that the families avoid the sort of group where they feel they are expected to take part in organising activities themselves; and if that expectation is advertised in advance they don't want to be involved. (Of course, many families do eventually end up with involvement in planning and organising but they are deterred in the first place if this is expected of members.)

    Some groups seem to have a sort of selection process which advertises "come to a couple of meetings and see if you fit in"- which probably isn't meant to sound as if new families are being screened, but can be interpreted as such. Many families try a local group once and don't come back, perhaps because they had the wrong expectations.

    What I am trying to say is that I can fully understand that these families were much happier to attend something arranged for them by "professionals". The fact that the project in the video clip seem to have clear aims (forging links with Connexions seems to have been primary) and was deemed to be educational not social by the families involved meant it appealed to a distinct group of HEers; and that can only be a good thing if they enjoyed it. It isn't my cup of tea, but since it also showed LAs being positive and so on, it can only be a good thing. I have seen a bit of adverse comment about this project; surely we should all respect the fact that HE families are diverse and there isn't a "right" way to do it; if this is the sort of relationship some folk want with their LA, who are we to say they shouldn't have it?

  5. Of course there should be respect for the various ways people choose to HE and the links they may or may not want to the LA or Connexions.

    Something about this film just seems odd to me. I suspect that it was edited to present a particular perspective and I wondered what the purpose of it really was.

    All (and more) of what this project offered is available through local HE groups. (They'd really never heard of apprenticeships before?)

    Mrs Anon

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