When first I told people that I would not be sending my daughter to school, there were many negative reactions. These ranged from predictions that she would be unable to get a job or go to university, to the fear that she would grow up introverted and weird. None of these things have happened. I have not mentioned it before here, although others have referred to it, but my daughter has a place at Oxford to study philosophy, politics and economics; otherwise known as PPE. Her A level results this morning were as hoped and so she is now assured of starting at Oxford in a month or so.
To my mind, the place at Oxford is not so much an endorsement of my teaching as a recommendation for home education in general. I am far too irritable and impatient to be a good teacher and gaining a place in this way at university was my daughter’s doing, rather than a tribute to my teaching skills. I honestly believe that any family prepared to put in the work and make all the necessary arrangements could do exactly the same as we have done. This proves, to me at least, that home education can be better than any school, even the most prestigious independent ones. Nobody needs qualifications themselves to undertake it, nor do they need much in the way of prior knowledge. All that is needed is the determination to push on with the project and not to be discouraged by anybody else’s opinions. I lost count of the number of people over the years who claimed that it was impossible to study science at home or take GCSEs in history without expert, professional teaching. These people are quite wrong. Anybody can teach their child any subject in the world, even if they know nothing at all about it to begin with. Parents and children learn together.
I suppose that the reason that I am putting posting this, apart from the natural parental pride in my child, is this. I doubt that the fact that a home educated child has secured a place at Oxford University is likely to become widely known. As far as anybody knows, this is the first time that a child who was completely home educated during the statutory ages from five to sixteen has been offered a place at Oxford in recent years. I would like this to become known among other home educators, not as a personal advertisement for my own methods but simply to show other parents that the thing is possible. I firmly believe that any home educating parent could do at least as well as I have managed in this field. Many of them will be able to do better. Home education is perfect for one-to-one tuition and the chances of getting good grades in GCSEs and so on is much higher with this type of education.
Incidentally, I am aware that for some home educating parents, all this is an irrelevance. I do not wish to engage any more in sterile and pointless debates about whether we should or should not teach our children without their initiating the process. The fact is that most parents hope that their children will do well academically. I am making the point here that home educating parents are ideally placed to ensure that their children do do well in GCSEs, A levels, university admissions and so on. Not attending school between the ages of five and sixteen is not only no bar to such achievements, but actually makes them more likely and far easier to attain.