The path through formal education.

The last couple of weeks have been all about exams. My daughter sat her first IGCSE exams, her double science award to be exact which consisted of three exams, each one 2 hours long covering biology, chemistry and physics. She has spent the last 18 months with a tutor every Monday (during term time) as part of a group working towards this, but even so the exam prep itself was a bit unnerving, for all of us.

Sure she had to do the learning and the revising, I had to take a step back and trust her that she was learning what she needed to know. I tried to help her where I could and was able to check some of her answers in the practise books and give her feedback, but it was a challenge for me to step back and have faith. I had to find a centre where she could sit her exams as an independent candidate and I had to register her. I will eventually have a bill land on my doorstep which I will have to pay. Its scary not yet knowing what figure that bill will have on it, I didnt have time to confirm the costs before registering her due to the cut off dates of the school I registered her for.  But in she went, 3 times for 2 hours each. Though one of the exams she rang me 30 minutes early to say that she had finished and come out, she appears confident which is promising. And so we await August and her results. I dont care how well she did, obviously it would be fantastic if she has A*s what parent wouldnt think that was amazing, but ultimately I feel that we all got so much out of the experience in itself that whatever the results and grades she gains, the whole thing has been a massive learning curve for us as a family.

She says at times that she wants to do more, other times she is not so sure. There is no rush. There is no necessity to take GCSEs, I know that there are enough other routes that dont involve these exams at all so I dont feel that I need to push her on this matter, though if she wants to do more we now know that it is perfectly possible and not quite as complicated as I was scared it was going to be.

Yes, you see what I did there? I admitted it. I had been scared, its scary stuff taking that responsibility for your childs education. Its a legal responsibility that we all have all of the time but sometimes when we enrol our children in to a school we do feel there is a bit of a safety net and we can breathe a sigh of relief that at least those exams are taken care of. Going it “alone” can be daunting. Not that I have ever really been “alone”, the home ed community is huge and there has been so much help and advice along this road.

The next path seems rocky, the road of college. We know that the local college accepts applications from home ed students. We know that they offer a course for 14-16 yr olds. We know that A would really like to attend. However, THEY dont seem to have a clue how the funding for this works. I have informed them that they need to contact EFA for funding, that they need to set up and individual learning record for A, I have given them the contact details for the Elective Home Ed Advisor for our county to help to confirm what they need to do. Its a bit of a battle but just one more hurdle to overcome so that in September A can begin work on a hairdressing course at college.

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Let Children Grieve!

I came across a news article that has been doing the rounds on facebook ( http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/11945031/Grieving-children-cant-have-extra-days-off-schools-Minister-warns.html ) It is a report dated October and I do remember being highly frustrated at the time but now with all the SATs uproar, the secret teacher resignation letters that have also been doing the rounds ( http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/zoa-brown/sorry-nicky-morgan-im-out_b_9978988.html ) and the recent court case regarding term time holidays where by the high court ruled in favour of father Jon Platt who took his daughter on a term time holiday to florida and was fined for doing so, it has all come up again.

The idea that children should not be allowed time off of school to grieve is appalling. Holidays is another debate all together, but pretty much everyone in their lifetime will experience grief. Cold, hard, painful, lonely grief. The loss of a loved one. The ice cold grip on your heart that makes you want to cry out loud if only you could muster the breath to do so.

As adults, grief is hard to deal with. To be fair, the loss of a loved one is not something that you ever really get over. You learn to live, you learn to tread water and keep yourself afloat while you work out how to move forward. How many adults when coping with the loss of a loved one will take  compassionate leave from work? How many adults would accept that they are not in the best of head spaces to behave professionally, to be able to handle members of the public, to be able to support other people, to be able to do their job! I know that when I suffered the loss of a loved one I needed to be at home, I was employed at the time in a difficult support role and I did not feel that I would be able to handle certain situations professionally in my emotional state.

I am not saying that everyone would handle grief in this way. There is a number of us who will strive for normality. Keeping a lid on things and needing that regular routine to help them not to fly off the rails altogether. Thats fine too, however you deal with grief is whatever you have to do to get you through some of the most difficult times that we encounter.  My point is, that it isnt for anyone else to decide.

For a child, grief can be like the great unknown. Completely new and unfamiliar feelings. A whole new concept of loss that they need to explore and get their heads around. For a number of children regular routine, the structure of the classroom and the normality of having friends around them can be a blessing, but again we move into that “one size fits all” package that we all know just doesnt really work.  There will be a large number of children who need time out to process difficult and new feelings. Children who need to be with family, perhaps children who need to be away from home to be with said family. Sometimes the parents need to be away from home to take care of practical arrangements and the children need to accompany them.

Families arent all local in close knit communities anymore, they are spread far and wide the world over, so one authorised day absence may not be sufficient for a child to attend a funeral.

Would schools seriously be expecting children and young people suffering a loss, experiencing the grip of grief to attend school to keep their head down, to work hard and not to disrupt the other students? To be in an environment where if they break down in to tears they are not going to given a hug and they may even face laughter, pointing and ridicule? Bullies dont take a break to respect grief, I learnt that the hard way!

On top of the stress and upset that bereavement and grief can cause there is serious recommendations that parents should face prosecution and action surrounding unauthorised absence at such a difficult time?!

I cant quite get my head round the fact that the person who is in a position to make these decisions and demands has no children of his own. He has no teaching experience. He has no knowledge or qualification in child development. Yet he has been deemed fit by our government to impose such rules. To expect our children and and young people to behave in a manner which even us as adults would immensely struggle with!  Are we really supposed to be raising a generation of emotionally constipated robots?!

 

It’s a big wide world!

There are some things that you just can’t experience sat at a desk.

You can learn about mountains, you can look at photos of snow covered peaks. You can learn all about light reflections and mirror images. You can take part in lessons in physical education and practise your acrobatics and gymnastics. But nothing will beat the feeling of sand underneath you as you master a handstand in the sea breeze, or the air rushing past you as you judge and take a leap from a roof onto grass with no safety tested crash mat.

Some things you just need to get out into the real world to see, smell, hear, taste and feel!

What better way to learn about the world than to live in it, experience it and explore it?

As a society we need to accept that the whole world needs to be a child’s classroom, not a child’s classroom be their whole world!

Why my toddler won’t be going to preschool / nursery.

We are hitting that stage when lots of friends are looking into nursery / preschool places for their toddlers. I have seen discussion amongst friends, acquaintances and people who I went through my pregnancy with regarding enrolment into preschool and nursery places and I know that the question will come up.

In fact the subject already has come up on a number of occasions, in the last 22 months that we have been home educating family members have made off the cuff statements “when he goes to nursery…” without much thought. Making the assumption that he will attend nursery as it has never occurred to them that maybe he wont.

It is of course an easy assumption for many to make. After all, we chose to home educate the older children following failures within the school system and to ease their own anxieties following issues with bullying. Both had previously attended pre schools, nurseries and schools fairly successfully so why wouldn’t I let the small one give it a go and see if he got lucky and escaped the torment and experiences that his brother and sister had suffered? His dad enjoyed school, he had no problems and did well, even today his attendance and conduct awards have display space on our shelves. Maybe small would be the same?  We are not against school, we have many, many friends whose children attend school. Many enjoy it and are thriving and it is certainly the best option for those families, so I would hate for anyone to read this and feel I am in any way judging those families as I am not, any more than I would expect to be judged on my decision to do what is best for my family. But I do feel that I need to express my views on what is best for my family and my reasons for those views, as I realise that this is a subject that will come up again, and I know that for many others the idea of home education is a promising and positive idea but that they too are tormented by well meaning family members who believe that the traditional schooling is the best and only option.

So, first off, I will not be sending my toddler to nursery or preschool at all in foreseeable future unless something major changes in our family situation. My reasons for this are many and varied, but ultimately it boils down to one thing, I honestly, in my heart, do not feel that it would be the best path for my family. My older children really have suffered at the hands of bullies. This affected their self esteem, their confidence and their faith in the world. This was pretty heart breaking and was ultimately the reason behind removing them from school. However what I have since come to realise is that the damage went far deeper and began way before the bullying!

With school came school uniform, so suddenly the unique and crazy combinations of clothing that I loved to see my young children experiment with, the enthusiasm for choosing their clothes and dressing themselves in those early years very soon vanished as pressure to look smart, keep your jumper safe, wear those black shoes, sit still and let me do your hair, hurry up we must be ready to leave took over. With uniform the splashing in puddles, climbing trees and not caring that the slide was wet before sliding down it disappeared as it was replaced with “don’t do that in your uniform you’ll ruin it!”

With school came rigid time tables. Come rain or shine we had to be out the house and to the school gates. If it was snowing and the children wanted to play they could not do so on the way to school for fear of them spending the whole day in cold, wet clothes. If it was hot and sunny we could opt for a day in the park splashing in the river with the fishing nets, instead they still had to sit in the classroom looking longingly out of the windows at the wide expanse of green taunting them. On the times when we were able to get out crowds flocked to the best places, they were no longer “fun” when full of bustling and boisterous children all trying to make the most of what precious free time they had.

With school came forced learning. Children who got so engrossed in a set subject that they were thoroughly enjoying learning about it, only for the teacher to tell them that they were done and had to move on before their curiosity was satisfied. Children made to sit still and focus on a subject that did nothing to engage them or spark their imaginations.

With school came “set reading” gone was the freedom to choose what they wanted to read, instead came the need to read specific set books in order to work their way up through assessed levels. No consideration for interests. With the set reading came my son being told he couldn’t read, that he was below average. At home he was reading “The Hobbit”, as school he couldn’t move past the colour that he was on because he wouldn’t read it to the teacher. She knew full well he could read, she praised a brilliant piece of creative writing he did on greek mythology, but she was “unable” to mark his reading ability as any higher until he read that damn set book!

Homework, tiredness, stress, lost belongings, constant demands for money for this trip, that trip, this charity event, non uniform day etc etc etc…. it all caused arguments within the house. Children angry at each other, and at us. The love for the school holidays always tainted with the anxieties and preparation for return. And I am sad, sad at the rushed years, the mornings that we didn’t have time to marvel at the beauty of the frost on the spiders webs together. Sad that I couldn’t take them out on some of those glorious summer evenings to watch the sunset because they had to be in bed ready for school the next day.  Sad at the missed experiences, the things that I never knew my children could do until their teacher told me. Sad that the children lost their first teeth at school, that it was their teacher who gave them a tissue to wrap it in and helped them to wash their bloody mouths out with a cup of water.

The passion, the curiosity, the natural spark was all well gone before the bullying began. It sad but it was only after they came out of school and were rebuilding themselves was I able to look back in hindsight and see all of this. I had been so busy, caught up in the day to day demands of life and children that I just didn’t see it happen. It was normal for children to come home from school in those early days and be so tired they fell asleep before dinner wasn’t it? So perfectly common, not a warning sign. It was perfectly normal for children to play up in the morning and not get ready for school wasn’t it? Again perfectly normal for children to sulk when they “should be reading”? or to cry when you walk out and leave them somewhere? Everyone tells you how normal it is, and how they will be ok, and you float along living it and just don’t stop, don’t realise those signs all adding up that you are losing someone so very precious!

If my children had not been bullied, had I not felt that my hand was forced in taking them out of school I am sure they would still be attending, and quite possibly even doing very well. But I don’t think that they would be my happy, helpful individuals that I am lucky to share my home and my life with. I do not think that my daughter would have the motivation and work ethic to work voluntarily 2 sometimes 3 days a week while studying for exams that she is choosing to take. I don’t think my son would be demonstrating the passion for drawing, photography and wildlife that he has been able to embrace. Most importantly I don’t think we would be as close a family as we are, the stress of every day school runs, time restrictions, no natural body clocks etc was breaking us apart. People are amazed now that I can drop my children off for ice skating, or swimming or climbing and that they enjoy doing these things, will go off and do them together safely and sensibly with no trouble. That they are both able and happy and willing to do some chores around the house and will pick up their books and sit together at the table to choose to do some work on a rainy day. I don’t hear complaints of “Im bored” or “there’s nothing to do”, they are both happy and able to keep busy without needing my constant supervision, input and monitoring and a lot of people find this strange, comment on how “lucky” I am and how nice it is. But that’s the thing, they are able to see their friends, they are able to spend time doing their own things and following their own interests, they are able to sleep when they are tired, eat when they are hungry and don’t need to ask permission to use the toilet, and when they are able to make these choices, they are able to choose to be nice, helpful and kind without being overwhelmed by a huge to do list and over tiredness.

So small one may not be bullied, he may love school, he may do very well and achieve highly, but he may also lose his passion, his spark, his natural curiosity that makes every learning experience a fantastic adventure. I want to see the look in his eye when something clicks, I love watching that moment when he learns something new! I want to be there when he writes his name for the first  time, when he learns all the colours of the rainbow, when he watches in wonder at the life cycle of a frog!!

I am lucky enough that I do not need child care during the week days, I am very fortunate that working during the week is not something that I have to do, I am able to work on a Saturday and be at home with my children Monday to Friday. I attend lots of social gatherings with children of all ages within the home education community so I do not feel that my toddler is missing out on any interaction. In fact it is the opposite. He is very happy to mix with children of all ages, he is already gentle with babies and can be running around quite boisterously playing “it” with the teenagers. Add to that the sensory play that he does, the exploration out of doors, planting, painting, drawing etc,  he isn’t missing anything so preschools and nurseries aren’t necessary.

 

 

A tale of four houses.

It was a big year for my friends and I, in the space of 12 months 4 of us had bought our own houses. Our houses were all different, but they were ours,  we were responsible for them. It was down to us to ensure that they were looked after and decorated appropriately.

House 1 was a big house, standing 3 storeys tall and sporting 5 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a large open plan living room / diner / kitchen and small concrete yard out back.

House 2 was smaller, a 2 story 3 bedroomed house with spacious living room and kitchen and a downstairs loo with a large garden.

House 3 was a maisonette, with 2 bedrooms a small kitchen and a long thin hallway on the ground floor leading out to a small garden area landscaped with unique and beautiful flower beds..

House 4 was a ground floor flat, 1 bedroom, large living room and small kitchen.

All very different, with their own lists of chores needed for maintenance and rooms needing to be decorated. We knew that we had our work cut out but that ultimately all four of these properties could be wonderful homes full of happiness and enjoyment if we looked after them properly.

We all decided to employ the same decorator. After all, we were very busy and decorating is very hard work needing time, training, patience and knowledge. This decorator came very highly recommended, every one said that he had great results and all the houses he had decorated looked fab. So we all went a head and hired him.

One of us, with house 1 was very busy, they didnt have to check on their house at all. He would give her updates every now and again on how her house was doing and she might have some questions to ask which he would answer and she would be happy  that he was keeping her up to date.

Another friend (house 2) was also very busy, but would check in on her house every so often and peek in through the windows of the house to the rooms to see the progress being made. She saw walls being painted and wall paper being hung. All looked to be doing wonderfully from what she could see. Sure she might not have chosen THAT colour for herself, but it looked ok on the walls.

The owner of house 1 returned to her home when the decorator told her it was finished. She was suprised walking around, the rooms looked ok, painted, wall papered with all new shiney fixtures and fittings. But it felt sterile. There was nothing special about the house. No character. It looked exactly like all the other houses in the street. When she went to the top up on the 3rd floor she found that it had not been touched. No decorating done and it was in quite a mess. It would take years and a lot of money to repair the damage caused by neglect. The decorator mearly explained that his job is only to work on the first two floors and that the top floor was someone else’s job. It wasnt his problem any more and he was moving on.

The owner of house 2 was fairly satisfied with her house. Sure it was decorated in some colours that perhaps she wouldnt have chosen herself, but it was perfectly functional and comfortable for living in. She had to do a bit of work in the garden as that wasnt the decorators area of knowledge so she employed a gardener to take care of that, he ensured that she had a healthy grass lawn, he wasnt there to landscape it or put down any plants or flowers, one lawn to match the others in the area would be quite sufficient. She was happy there and made it her home.

Now the owner of house 3 was a bit different. She knew that while the recommended decorator was a professional, it was her home that he was decorating. She understood that once he was finished she would be left living in her house and he would return home and begin work on other houses. She paid a lot of attention to what he was doing. She visited her house often and played a very active role in talking with the decorator and looking around inside her house. Yes it took time and she could have been doing other things, the decorator wasnt very welcoming all the time, he was used to being left to get on with it without being disturbed or questioned but it was her home!! As she walked around her home she found that each room was decorated a different colour. Not all colours that she would like either. In fact she knew from talking to her friends that he seemed to be using the same colours in the same rooms of all of their houses. She looked around her home and questioned “why do they have purple bedrooms when mine are grey and this green colour?” the decorator replied “They also have a grey and a green bedroom, but you only have two bedrooms so these are the colours of bedrooms one and two” He explained that you dont get to have a purple bedroom until you have a grey room and a green bedroom. She wasnt happy with his explanation. She would be the one living and sleeping here, surely she could have the bedroom that she wanted. The decorator was adamant and explained that was just how it was done. “but the bedroom would look lovely in purple!, it would pull of purple really well!!” but the decorator smiled and said “no”.

When she looked outside at her beautiful unique flower beds she found that the flowers had withered away and died. They were covered instead with decorating supplies that the decorator had required. The supplies had smothered their beauty and individuality. She got quite upset at this and questioned the decorator, who apologised but explained that it was necessary. That the unique beauty of the flower beds did not take priority over the job that he had been tasked with so it was a sad but inevitable loss. Possibly the beautiful flowers would regrow, as long as the soil had not been damaged permanently by the paint, rubbish and chemicals that had been placed there. This was the final straw. She told the decorator to leave, that she would finish the job herself. The decorator wasnt happy, he tried to tell her that her home would not reach its full potential, that decorating in this way would prepare it for when she decided to sell it as this was the current colours that were expected. It didnt matter that no one knew what the desired or expected colours would be when she did decide to sell. No, she had had enough. Sure it would take time and patience and she didnt have training in decorating, but she had certainly painted a wall before and was sure she could do it again.

It took quite a bit longer, she had to go over a lot of the decorators work and to try and treat the soil and regrow the flowers was very tough and draining. For that she did ask for some professional help. Several gardeners tried telling her that they couldnt help because she should have never got rid of the decorator, had she kept the decorator they would have treated her garden for free. But her house and garden would never be the same again. Over time she was able to have the walls painted the colour she desired and yes over time flowers grew back, she never managed to quite get the old ones back in all their glory again though, they really had been quite unique.

The owner of house 4 having spoken with her friends and hearing their experiences decided in the end not to have a decorator after all. She was sure that she could decorate her house however she saw fit. She wanted a room of rainbows and flowers on her doorstep and window ledges. She wanted pets and trees and murals and notice boards and bookshelves. The money that she saved by not paying a decorator she spent on travelling, she was able to experience places and try different foods and visit museums and parks and zoos. She filled her home with souvenirs from all over the world and knew that it was hers. Comfortable. happy, unique.

 

Its a funny world isnt it, the same decorating treatment just didnt work for four such wonderfully different homes. It was obviously no great surprise. One size doesn’t fit all.

As a society we are happy to do our own decorating to have our homes how we want them, we are happy to do our own research before buying a cr to ensure we get one that will meet our needs, we research and plan our own holidays, our own meals our own hobbies even our own careers. Yet why, when it comes to our children are we happy to lay down to what the government, a bunch of suits who have never met our individual children, decides is best for them en masse? Why is it in every area of our lives do we research and read up and check reviews and follow evidence except a childs education?

Let kids be kids, strike!

This week has been interesting for me and has caused me to do a lot of thinking. Mainly about tests. This week saw the 3rd of May school strike in protest against the SATs and I got to enjoy a lovely trip out to the London Natural History Museum with one of my schooling friends.  While chatting to her about why she had removed her children for the day in support of the strike she voiced that she had been somewhat irritated by the attitudes of some home educating parents in the lead up to the strike. Their stance was “If you’re not happy you should pull them out, de register, home educate…” with comments being made questioning the commitment and dedication of parents whose children go off to school. I am not surprised at all that this irritated her, as it would me. Of course we like to ensure that parents know that if they and their children are unhappy with the school system home education is a perfectly legal and legitimate alternative route to take, but that does not then give us the right to question those parents who choose to keep their children enrolled in mainstream school. We all have bad days, I would love to be able to complain out loud about having a bad day without someone suggesting “perhaps you should look at sending them back to school?” NO! a bad day happens, I am not willing or prepared to upset our whole way of life due to a bad day. On the same note, if a child is happy in school, doing well in school and the parent is happy with the ethics of the school then why cant they complain about a bad day? Why cant they stand up and take action on behalf and in support of those not so fortunate?

While talking to my friend she explained that she was very happy with her childrens school, and that she couldn’t fault the teachers and her children were doing well. She was choosing to strike not to keep them off for the day to soothe worries and anxieties, not because she didnt want the sitting tests, not because she was teaching them to run away but because she was in support of hundreds if not thousands of children across the country who ARE experiencing high stress levels and anxiety. The 70% rise in children with mental health concerns believed to be strongly related to the stress and pressure put on children from such a young age to learn academically. She is against children being put under pressure and tested on their academic skills when they are still at an age when their developing brains should be learning through play and natural exploration. She can see that so many children across the country are loosing their love of learning and their natural born curiosity.  She understands that teachers aren’t happy about all of this, teachers train and go into the profession to help children to learn, to make a difference to a childs life. They study child development and then enter the classroom where government guidelines basically instruct them to ignore all that they have spent years studying. The rise in numbers of teachers leaving the profession is astounding, and these are good teachers! The kind that actually care about our children but can not find it in their hearts to continue in this way. Does this not scare parents? It would scare me if my children were in school. My friend striking and keeping her children off understood that the strike was also in support of these teachers.

It was sad to see the other side of the opinions on the strike though. People making a decision or a judgement without fully realising or understanding what was going on. The assumption that SATs are a vital part of a childs schooling and to not sit them would really mess with a childs education (eeerrr I dont know about you but at no point on a job application or college or university document have I had to remember what I scored on my SATs!)  Parents believeing that SATs results determine what “sets” you are placed in when you go into secondary school (because clearly young people dont learn or develop skills once they get into secondary school, the secondary schools dont run their own assessments and ah yes, that totally explains why year 2s need to be academically tested! *insert eye roll*)  Comments of “If not keeping my children off because I do not want to disrupt their education.” …. I dont understand why as a parent you would place so much value on an education system that has left you with such disbelief at your own capabilities as a parent that you genuinely believe that one extra day off school would put them behind!?

There were comments around the rise in mental health concerns in children, self harm, depression, anxiety and even suicide. To which I saw some parents responding with suggestions along the lines of “if children are suffering that much it isnt down to the schools its due to the parents not equipping them with the correct tools to deal with stress” The children are 6 ffs!! I wouldn’t pack a 5 or 6 year old off to school and think wow they might get stressed out and pressured before they start school we should prepare for this! At that age I would expect the school to be in support of their young developing brain and follow a learning through play ethos! I have seen parents claiming that their children are find doing their SATs because when they have got upset and cried and stressed they have been reassured that the tests dont matter “just do the best you can” and that they arent important. Well, then why are you allowing your children to reach the point where they are crying and stressed about it? Why is it ok that you need to reassure them like this? Why is it ok for a school to cause your child to worry to the point of tears only for you to tell your child that its ok, they arent important tests anyway? Why wouldnt you want to take a stand against that?! Even if your children are fine, why wouldnt you want to show support for the many who aren’t?

The fact is, that if nothing is challenged then everything will continue down the drain. School hours increasing, tougher exams, younger testing, children in preschools and nurseries being placed under pressure to be “school ready” before the age of 4 and compulsory academy status bringing with it a mass drop if not total removal of SEN provision in many schools and a loss of LEA to look to for admission appeals. What good will any of this do children in the long term?. Those of you who sit and say “well I did ok, it never did me any harm” well great, why aren’t you questioning why it all needs to change then? Those of you who all love the school holidays and complain when they are over and your life will return to school runs and homework and angry children? Why arent you taking a stand and demanding “WHY?” Those who argue that their child has SEN and who needs the school support and couldn’t cope without that structured routine, are you investigating clearly how your childs provisions and routine will be affected by all of these proposed changes? No? maybe not immediately but think, if schools are not going to be governed by local authorities but instead will be independent how long really will the local education authority be standing in a position to support those with statements?

To hear some people refer to the strike yesterday as “a bunch of parents throwing their toys out of the pram” was pretty appalling and shocking. How many parents really truely are prepared to educate themselves on what is happening around them. How many have done that and are still actually happy and not at all concerned or worried about what our government are doing? How many are really fully in support of Nicky Morgan and all her bs? If you are really happy with everything proposed then great, no worries. But for those who aren’t, well then why wouldn’t you have shown your support? Why didn’t you sign the petition?

The Hashtag #letkidsbekids  was full of photos of children attending picnics and activity days across the country. Some groups as many as 500 attending, what an amazing atmosphere there must have been at these events.

My children don’t go to school, if they did it would be SATs time for them in year 6 and year 9. We aren’t affected by any of that stress anymore which, for us, is wonderful. I remember clearly the start of A’s anxiety attacks, chest pain landing her in hospital and causing migraine and vomiting as a result of stress. Teachers telling her that these were important tests and the results would impact on her at secondary school. She physically pulled her hair out. This was not due to a lack of support at home, this was not due to a lack of reassurance from parents and loved ones. Its the way she was placed under stress and the way her brain and her body reacted to it. None of us could have foreseen it, and possibly the only way we could have prevented it is to know what we know now and remove her. She did so well as it happened, she did brilliantly in the tests. However when she went up into secondary school they were not mentioned again and she was taught in her year group without being divided immediately into sets anyway.  The tests that she had so worried and stressed over were never mentioned again! There is no denying the rise in home ed numbers and I have met so many children who are overcoming anxiety as a result of their experience in school. No not all children suffer, some do fine, but the number of those who are doing fine WILL drop dramatically in coming years as all of the proposed changes take place. Children are not biologically developed enough to cope , it is why schooling was introduced in the first places, why childhood was defined as different to adulthood. The acknowledgement that children are different from adults. Kids need to be kids! Let kids be kids! Let our kids be kids! Let your kids be kids!