Monthly Archives: October 2009

Tomato and Apricot chutney.

Spinning 3D Jack-o-Lantern It’s that time of year again. Getting ready for Halloween and All Saints, starting the Christmas prep and I suppose if I got organised (LOL) I would even get something sorted for 5th November.

P1000880I bought “culinary” pumpkins this year to make the lanterns with. I thought maybe there would be enough flesh to make something with once I’d hollowed them out-but there really wasn’t. I do however have a pile of seeds. I’ve washed a few and am leaving them to dry overnight and then I’m going to try roasting them and see how it goes. Apparently they are a lovely snack and very good for you. I am a skeptic on all things pumpkin-but I’ll let you know.

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Thank you Graham Badman. Good things from the Review

Poor old Graham Badman has been feeling a bit got at after publishing his review on home education. He managed to gain all one star reviews on Amazon and feels that the anger of what he calls a “minority” of home educating parents, just because we believe being treated as guilty until proven innocent of child abuse, is unjustified.

But I have to say the results of Badman’s little Review have not been all bad. I think I have seen some very good results.

To begin with Badman, Balls and pals have stirred up a quiet nest of family life and found it full of stinging hornets all ready to protect our young’uns. We have reached out from group to group, from parent to parent across the internet and around our local communities. We have had the chance to expand the number of home educating families we know and have found that whatever our philosophy of education, political views, religious beliefs or even parenting approaches-that we all believe in the freedom to live as families with the right and duty to the education of our children. Only one or two home ed parents have sided with the idea that the state owns our children and that we are to prove ourselves innocent of abuse and get a licence to parent our children.

The other good outcome is that more parents who have sent their children to school are beginning to realise that they too are threatened by this Government’s drive to break families. There are even some teachers willing and active in writing letters and filling out consultation questions supporting us.

While I certainly don’t think the mainstream media have done us many favours they have, even with the nastier side of their reporting, raised the profile of home education and thanks to the comment section of online papers such as The Times, The Telegraph and even The Guardian and the TES, a more truthful view of home education has been made very public. In doing so I am finding that more people are positive about the notion of home education and as a result I can’t help wondering whether there will be a spike in the numbers of children educated otherwise than school.

Only this morning I spoke to a parent whose children had a dreadful school experience and for her son has led to problems in his adult life. Her first grandchild is to be born soon -perhaps that child will have more choices in life; (unless the Badman recommendations go ahead of course). This mother had heard about home ed on the radio this morning and was fascinated by it. My guess she is not the only one. While Badman admitted that parents felt “despair” at the state of schools I wonder if he has realised that this feeling is common among parents whose children remain in school. Raising the awareness of home education will surely lead more children out of the school gates and to freedom. So thanks for that Mr Badman.

I am also glad to see MPs (mainly Conservative; in fact apart from UKIP has anyone else politically come out for family freedom and home ed?) standing up for the rights of families and the freedom to educate our children as we see fit. It’s good to know some people in the higher echelons do have some grasp of reality. It has also raised awareness that not only Labour but also the LibDems are not so keen on family rights. It’s always good to know where we stand.

So I hope poor old Mr Badman doesn’t feel too bad. Some good has come of all this.

Half term days out: Blists Hill Museum

Yesterday we spent the day at Blists Hill Victorian Town Museum. It actually seems to be Victorian and Edwardian and it’s very good.

P1000854The little ones enjoyed having some old money. Unfortunately the queues everywhere were so long they didn’t get the chance to spend it. Oh well, we’ll take it with us next time.

They were amazed that their poor ‘old’ mum remembers this kind of money.





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Year of the Priest: History of the Priesthood: Jesus chooses 12

12apostlesJesus went around referring to Himself as “The Bridegroom”. I think it is fair to say that the leaders of the Temple understood Him all too well-and they didn’t like it. He was calling Himself a priest-a priest of the old pre Levitical order-a priest like David and Solomon and a priest like Adam and Abraham. He also went around forgiving sins; something only God can do. Something the High Priest only had the authority to do once a year (remember when Zachariah met the angel and lost his voice so he couldn’t give the absolution blessing?). Jesus offered proof of His authority through His miracles.

He raised the dead, healed the sick, cast out demons and calmed storms. Witnesses could see His power first hand. They were then to decide whether this man Jesus really was the Messiah they had been promised and had been awaiting for generations-or whether he was just another wannabe.

The Messiah would restore Israel. All of it. Not just Judea (in the south) with Judah, Benjamin and some Levites-but the WHOLE of Israel.

Jesus chose 12 men and a lot of them came from the north, Galilee. We are not told what tribes they all hail from, only that they are Galilean. So they were probably a bit of a mix but not many Israelites were around. In choosing 12-Jesus is speaking about the whole of Israel. The men are not all Levites (John was related to the High Priest so he may have been but we are not told). We are also not told how old the men were. While it seems likely most were older, tradition at least tells us John was well under thirty-the age a priest could be ordained.

The question modern people raise is why all men? Where are the women? And the silly answer is that Jesus was tied by the conventions of the time. The men he chose gives the lie to this.

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The BBC and the Government School’s Minister attack Christian home educators. No one seems surprised.

I must admit the fact Roger Bolton came out with bigoted rubbish about Evangelical Christian home educators was hardly surprising. The BBC are openly anti-Christian in all sorts of ways. But I would have thought Diana Johnson would have hidden her agenda just a little. She didn’t seem to feel the need to though and backed the smear from Bolton implying it was part of why Badman had to come after us home ed families. This interview comes on the heels of Peter Traves from Staffordshire Children’s Services comments to the select committee.

While I have come across some home educators whose view is ‘my freedoms but not yours’ they are thankfully few. Most of us back each other’s freedom to teach children within their religion, culture and education philosophy that suits them. Stamping on relgious freedom soons leads to other freedoms being stamped on.

Tech stands up for freedom.

The more they try to pick off groups like autonomous educators, ‘poor’ home educators, Christians and whoever is next-the closer we will stand together.

I am waiting to hear a very strong statement from the Tory’s that they would ditch the whole process as a useless waste of time and money. I am waiting…

Select Committee: Money and exams. Do Home Educated children need GCSEs?


One of the carrots that has been waved at home ed families has been money.  Would be we happy to be registered, poked and prodded and peered at, if we got some money?

While it has been said that some home educators have approached their LAs looking for proper help. I can’t imagine many have done this as we all know there isn’t any. Nevertheless one of the big bugbares appears to be that many home educators do not have their children do GCSEs, IGCSEs or A’levels because there are no free and local exam centres and the costs are prohibitive. In our case Alex was able to sit his exams locally, but the centre closed. The costs were over £120 per exam. For Iona who did IGCSE Maths the costs were £135 plus over £60 a day for travelling to Bristol and back! I met one mother who had travelled miles for her son’s IGCSE Science exam and had needed to pay for B&B the night before.

Most of us are simply not able to find that kind of money.

During the WED SESSION Douglas Carswell MP (Con) began this conversation:

Q69 Mr. Carswell: I have a general question for the panel. In Clacton, the parents of 16 children have, rightly in my opinion, refused to send their children to a school that they believe is not able to provide the children with a proper education. They have successfully demanded that they receive a home education grant from the local education authority. Is this something that you welcome, and do you think that the sort of extra regulation and oversight demanded by Badman could be conditional on receiving the grant? If you get the grant, you can be overseen by the state, but if you do not, it should leave you alone.

Zena Hodgson: I am from the Home Education Centre, and we were approached by Somerset, who said that it had managed to put aside some sums to assist home educators. It asked whether we would accept it, as they felt that they were not able to give it to individual families, but could give it to a group to spend the money best to benefit as many home educators in Somerset.

Chairman: Zena, you are not answering his question. [Actually she WAS answering the question and I would have liked to hear the full answer. I am fascinated that Somerset were willing to hand money to a home ed support organisation that could be used for genuine help of home ed families. I am especially interested because my time teaching in FE taught me that school money follows the child into college. It should therefore follow the child home shouldn’t it?]


Q70 Mr. Carswell: Would you like a legal right so that home educators could say to the local authority, “It is my money-give it to me now”?

Zena Hodgson: As a family?

Mr. Carswell: As an individual. My child, my money-give it. [Money per home ed child as in school?]

Zena Hodgson: Yes, I suppose. There will always be things that your children would want to better their education.[Yes the costs are high despite some stuff I’ve read about home ed on a shoe string. Frankly there are costs and some are pretty big ones.]

I noticed that most replies were very very cautious indeed. Fiona was well aware that it was a moot point as the money simply would not be there. Then Simon Webb said:

I live in Essex, so I have an interest in this. I had to pay £120 for every GCSE that my daughter took. It cost me nearly £1,000. I tried to get the money from Essex, but there was absolutely nothing doing. I pay council tax, but I cannot get the services from the education department.

I may be wrong, but although Mr Carswell (who had obviously done his homework about Home education which is way more that David Chaytor had bothered to do) thought there was a possibility of a registered family receiving the money a child would get for school to use as was best for that child, the underlying view was that money should be available for HE children to sit exams.

In the light of this, Here is my question.

Do Home Educated children need to sit GCSEs, IGCSEs or A’Levels?

I am seriously seeking your views on this. I would be equally interested in American, Australian and any other country homeschoolers saying what you think. Do you intend or have you put your children through High School Diplomas or other exams? What for? Do they need them for work applications, University access or other reasons? If you haven’t or don’t intend to-what are your children doing instead?

I am asking because my 15 year old daughter is about getting ready to start Open University courses in Feb next year. She turns 16 in the Jan and the OU have lowered their entrance age to 16. We thought that her chances of doing any degree or getting any kind of work would actually be enhanced by starting a degree at 16 but I have had someone raise concerns that she is not getting GCSEs first. Someone else has wondered whys she wants to stay home educated and not do gcses in college.

My view is that I have very very little money and I want to spend it with care. Iona wants to do the Open Uni courses which over the next couple of years could give her 120 foundation (level 1) points-a third of a degree. Each OU course is about £155 per 10 points. As you can see this is not cheap but I was thinking this was a better reason for debt that GCSEs.

From what I can gather employer organisations and Universities don’t think much of the quality of GCSEs these days anyway.

What do y’all think?

How do you DO Home Education then?

Despite the high profile home educators have had recently thanks to the smear campaign begun by Baroness Delyth Morgan and perpetuated by the NSPCC with Government backing, there is still very little in the mainstream media that actually illustrates what most home education is like and how it might be done. Partly, this could be because there is such a wide range of approaches from family to family and even within families from child to child; but partly I think it is because many people already think they know what home education is and even how it is done.

The reason the word “hidden” can be so easily banded about by the ignorant is because they assume that a child learning at home sits all day at a kitchen table completing worksheets-just like in school, but alone, at home.

In our family, as in most EHE families I know, the learning takes place all over the house, the neighbourhood and beyond. Sometimes the children do want to sit alone; sometimes work together on a shared lesson or work in the same area but on different things. Sometimes it’s just us but more often it’s us and other families.

David Chaytor MP (Lab) tried to make out that a child’s primary place of belonging was what he called “the community”. He said this only when Jane Lowe quite correctly had to say “The child is not the possession of the state, for the state to impose it’s rules on.” No the child belongs primarily to it’s family. Parents have the right and duty to educate their children and can do this within which ever community they happen to be part of.

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