Monthly Archives: November 2009

The Colour Purple

The First Sunday of Advent is upon us and Roni went up to light the first candle at Mass this morning. The readings were about God’s Promise being fulfilled with both the first and second comings of the Messiah. It is the time of purple vestments and tabernacle curtain reminding me of the sky just before dawn-just waiting for the Son to rise. Obviously the readings were meant to remind us that we were not just looking forward to looking back at the Birth of Christ, but were also looking forward to the Second Coming- when after things look pretty bleak for people (like the days of Noah) Christ will return and then there is Judgement followed by Heaven or Hell -and that’s it.

We have been reminded over and over that we have a choice-we are free to make this choice- we can go down the road to Mercy or we can choose Judgement.  When I read St Faustina’s diaries one year as my Lent reading I remember thinking that no one would want to walk the road towards Judgement. The fact that there is mercy is a great comfort surely.

As we head through the last couple of weeks before the Christmas hols the children will be making decorations for a Jesse Tree with the O Antiphons. There are Christmas chocs, cakes and buscuits to make too.

In the Catholic Herald this week I was pleased to see a letter published under the title “ A Tragic Outcome” supporting my letter and one from a Fr Cahill in the previous weeks edition against the CES stance on Home Education and sex education in schools. (20th Nov) scroll down to “It’s as if we no longer believe the young are capable of virtue” and my letter further down “The Bishop must defend homeschooling”. It is indeed tragic that the CES seem able to sacrifice children to the government without anyone who ought to speaking out!

Never a boring moment.

Party dude Alex and a cup of tea.

Alex is 18 and so when he and a whole bunch of mates of similar ages went off to a party last night I was, well, a bit tense. He left his girlfriend and away he went with the college crowd to a friend’s house the other side of the city.

 ChuggerI think I have been too taken in by the general MSM view of our youngsters, and I was concerned at the amount of alchohol and drugs that would be around. Alex said he wouldn’t be drinking (or taking drugs) but nevertheless a mother worries.

As it happened Alex was up this morning ready for Mass and said he had a good time last night. He drank lots of Schloer and Coke and although plenty of booze was on offer, he declined and no one tried to force him to drink. There were drugs but no one tried to push that on him either. One person got stupidly drunk and threw up all over the place, but that was all. As the evening drew to a close and people began to make their way home, the late stayers waiting for lifts, like Alex, helped clear up and sat down for a nice cup of tea. Chatting with the crowd it emerged that most people there had deliberately avoided too much alcohol as they were all off to Church the next morning!

Having finished his cup of tea his lift arrived and he came home.

Home Education -doing it, showing it and handing in the petition

Nature study is a core part of the early years of Miss Mason’s epistemological approach. A walk to the park and a game of Pooh sticks is a wonderful way for children to learn. When it comes to seeing and appreciating the local wildlife however, my children are never going to make it as the next David Attenborough as the enthusiasm of the Mighty 2 Year Old gets the better of her and she keeps bellowing “LOOK!” which immediately causes the receiver of her cheerful and loud attention to make a dash for it.

On our trip to the park I went with the petition in my crip-scooter basket and I stopped people along the way and asked them to sign. It was worth a try I thought. Reports from my son who had a page in his place of work, was that lots of people wouldn’t sign because they didn’t understand the wording and there were a lot of teachers who go there who (to be honest to my surprise) were not willing to sign it either. I did note one teacher legging it when he thought he might be asked to sign it the other day.

Meanwhile home education continues. Ronan enjoyed the story writing activity Classics for Kids set this week and there was yet more Chinese being spoken around the house. Even Heleyna is picking it up! (I’m not. It’s too hard!)

In Geography the children cut out copies of South America and Africa and looked at how they used to fit together. They learned a bit more about plate tectonics and how the plates make mountains and earthquakes.

On Thursday their dad had a day off so not much formal stuff was done but he did sit with Ronan and Avila so they could read to him.

Then on Thursday evening we left Alex and his Beloved with Heleyna and the rest of us went off to watch Josh in panto. It was a production of Jack and the Bean Stalk in which Josh starred in the first half as the back end of Daisy the cow and had a strange script consisting of the word “Moo!” In the second half he played a wizard and was very funny indeed. The show was lots of fun and the audience were appreciative. It was lovely to see how much Avila enjoyed herself. I think she might want to follow in her biggest brother’s footsteps one day- if she doesn’t fulfil her present ambition to be a builder.

Then yesterday was our Home Education Open Art Display afternoon. This was the suggestion in the Artistics Pursuits course we are doing as a group. We had been to the museum and taken note of how things were displayed in the Art Gallery and then the children spent a lot of time mounting and putting up their work.

Not all of it was pictures on the wall-though the walls were duly covered with paintings, drawings, colourings, and photos; but we also had a little display of decorated Christmas cakes the children had done under the tutelage of “Hiona the Professional”.

While neighbours and friends came over to have a look at the children’s work Al came home early and we went off to hand in the petition. It’s in and done.

It occurred to us mums that there was quite a lot of work in display considering it was only from September. We realised that usually once a piece of work is finished it gets put in a box, or folder and we rarely, if ever, look at it again. Some pieces get put on the wall for a while, but this huge display of what the group has produced was quite an eye opener.

We have decided that we would like to do something like this at the end of each term. We would invite people in to see the work and maybe look at curricula and whatever other stuff might be of interest. It would be a good way for the children to see what they have achieved (oooh enjoy and achieve!-sorry, I’ll stop it now)and for us to perhaps lift some of the strange mystique around the whole idea of EHE. Or perhaps we just want any excuse for a bit of a party:)


Dropping paranoia for practicality and fun.

Partly because I have such a bad memory I was keeping a ‘brain book’ to remind me of things I needed to remember. With the Badman review and the constant attacks and insinuations from the Govt that somehow EHE was not real education and only a cover for abuse, my paranoia got the better of me and I began writing detailed accounts of each bloomin’ day. Instead of taking a bit of extra time in the evening to chill or read, there I was writing out what we had done that day. ARRGH!

Fortunately I have a rather sensible 15 year old daughter who pointed out that as I wasn’t going to comply with the silly DCSF anyway and the LA officer was hardly-even if I wanted him to- going to read through a whole diary’s worth of educational events, then I was getting stressed for nothing. Too right.

She suggested that as I had also been taking photos and some films of the children learning, for me, that these things would be nicer in the diary and something the children could look back on later.

So this is what I have been doing. It still shows a good over view of the work and learning they do and I write notes, but aimed at them, not some stranger from the LA. It takes a lot less time and is more enjoyable.

I think I will be keeping the diaries to look back on.

Perhaps it will help on those “Why don’t I send them to school!?!” days. Hopefully it will help keep me focused on what a truly ‘suitable education’ is and how children need to be allowed the space to learn and grow.

I am not educating my children so that someone else can tick a box, or so that they can jump through exam hoops. I need to remember that education is to help them think, discern and want to learn so that they can be independent and so they can be good.


Badman and Balls- I stood up in Church today!

Before going off to Mass this morning I read the following quote from THIS DOC (scroll down to page 83 + for the Home Education part.
First year of registration
Children in the first year will all receive 2 * 4 hour meetings with LA officer (includes planning, travel time
50% of children in the first year will receive an additional 2 * 4 hour sessions. This is an estimate about
what % of initial assessments will require further action. There is little data, because the scheme has not
yet been implemented, but we are as confident as we can be that this is a high end estimation.
Monitoring visits
All children receive 1 x 8 hour visit at the end of the year.
50% will receive an additional 1 x 8 hour visit.
On no account do I intend to comply with the above utterly ridiculous, expensive and malicious plan. What kind of LA officer wants to spent 4 hrs in someone’s home disrupting their days and the children’s education? What kind of person would ever agree to a job that included 8 hrs with ONE family?
All this is written based on conjecture and the false stats that have already been dismantled and yet, there they still are!
I took the petition to Church and at the end of Mass, thanks to Father agreeing, I was able to stand up and speak to everyone. It is utterly nerve wracking but I explained what was happening to us and asked for the petition to be signed.
Iona noted that while families and a lot of the older men signed, it was the grandmothers who really took the situation on board. They have brought up their children and are the traditional grandparent type who believe in being a parent forever and caring for their children and grandchildren. They truly understand what removing parental rights means.
I am truly grateful.

Christ the King and the end at the beginning.

If you have ever watched the amazing film Into Great Silence you will have seen, felt and sensed the rhythm of the Liturgical year-moving with the breath of the world somehow. The man who made that film truly understood how the seasons of prayer works.

Today is the end of the year, marked by the fulfilment of history, Christ the King. This is the “already but not yet” before we plunge back into the darkness of waiting for the Light through Advent, and so the year begins again.

It’s the same with Divine Office (again used beautifully in Into Great Silence) which begins with the morning prayer based on our recognition of needing a Saviour and of waiting, through the day of work and thanksgiving for family and life and to Night Prayer with its fear of sickness and death that ends with the peacefulness of the Prayer of Simeon, “Now let your servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen the salvation…” and the words of Christ “Into Your hands Lord I commend my spirit.”

The Liturgical year recognises the human condition and the human spirit in a way no psychologist I have ever read has grasped. It takes Scripture and uses it to illustrate and high light the longing of the soul and through the prayers of the day and the year shows us how to get rid of guilt, to find forgiveness, salvation and peace and how not ever to need to fear death.

Do not be afraid.

Continue reading

Lack of ANY evidence doesn’t stop Balls and pals calling home educated children vulnerable!

The Queen’s speech yesterday was almost embarrassing, but at least it didn’t mention home education. But having the words come from Her Majesty doesn’t mean they weren’t there. Under the spurious title Safeguarding the vulnerable we have

Safeguarding the vulnerable – strengthening the powers of local authorities and others with regards to registration, inspection and intervention will mean effective systems are in place to protect those that most need it. The Bill will introduce a new home educators’ registration system and take new powers for Secretaries of State to intervene in youth offending teams that are failing and potentially putting young people and their communities at risk.

I just wonder what on earth the Badman review, the consultation, the incredibly bad stuff put before the Select Committee, the protest, the letters and just the whole shebang was for. All this had been decided and was ready to be rolled out, regardless.

It is well past time that someone from the Tory side gave families and especially home educating families a clear and definitive promise that NONE OF THIS will come about under them. Surely we should have had a straight answer by now. Perhaps they feel they don’t need our votes and simply don’t care enough. That’s not to say I am not grateful for the work of Douglas Caswell and Graham Stuart who have shown a willingness to both understand home education and support it.

Let’s make something quite clear; the only vulnerable children I come across are children in school. The ones bullied, the ones with porn mags pushed under their noses, the ones with breakfast club, all day school and every evening club going-because going home isn’t an option; the ones with so many exams to sit they haven’t time to think straight; the ones having to listen to or be the receiver of the foul language and casual violence that happens down our street every ‘home time.’

Home educated children are not vulnerable and neither Badman nor any of his cronies have been able to show one instance where they have been! They have had to misuse case studies to try and squeeze a ‘home ed children vulnerable’ headline out here and there.

Of course they rely on the thoughtless opinionated public constantly making their silly assertions about ‘socialisation’ and ‘but they can’t do science can they’ and the ‘children shouldn’t be with their parents’ rubbish that gets answered and answered but still gets repeated.

The backlash is getting bigger and louder. More and more parents are saying they will not comply with anything this Government tries to do-and have put the Tories on notice that they wont be complying  any of it under them either.

Meanwhile I will continue to give my children a better than mediocre education in a loving family among good friends. Some people don’t approve I know-and frankly I don’t care.

Parliamentary Petition on the Badman Review

Carlotta posted about the Petition HERE.

You can sign the PETITION HERE. I am the Birmingham Selly Oak Constituency co-ordinator for the petition and if you want to sign and live in my constituency (ie Lynn Jones MP is your MP) or if you know someone here who would sign then you can contact me via the above website. I have until 30th Nov to get all the sigs I can which is very tight indeed.

I know there’s been questions raised about how this petition was sorted, but I still think this is worth a go.

A week of Home Education

It’s actually been a fairly quiet week this week. We’ve spent more sofa-time than usual and a bit more computer time as well.home education

Ronan really loved the story of The Black Douglas. One of the good things about the Ambleside curriculum is that a lot of the stories are just right for boys.

We spent some time with Mr’ Linney’s Latin and Spanish. Ronan did a bit of revision with the Latin Quizzes.

Heleyna and Avila used More Starfall for singing, dancing and reading.

Iona was writing up her mock essay for her Open Uni courses. She’s had a go with the Open Learn site but I wanted to be sure she can mange the essay side of it too. The Times has written about the growth of free online University courses. So we can use iTunes U for OU and plenty of other Universities including Oxford . The list of Unis using iTunes to offer free lectures as podcasts is apparently growing. I hope those same Unis might start thinking of offering distance learning as the OU have done to help students save a little money and get into less debt.

Meanwhile Iona is also planning some sessions to do with the home ed group. She wants to lead some more sessions as good practice before her work placement comes up in one of the local primary school (yes I see the irony).

P1000968Ronan has been learning to touch type courtesy of BBC schools. This is an important skill especially these days, and he seems to have taken well to it.

We got some Christmas cooking under way as well. The children helped with the weighing and soaking of fruit and mixing up of Christmas cake.

Another home ed family came over Wed afternoon mainly for play and reading time.

There as the trip to the Museum and Art Gallery on Friday which was good fun, although poor old Avila ended up sitting in my lap in an exhausted heap. So you see, we really had done the place. Sadly a couple of the families couldn’t make it that day.

Ronan got a pair of chopsticks from Alex’s girlfriend because he wants to learn how to use them. So food should be interesting next week!

World Diabetes Awareness Day

P1010029 It’s World Diabetes Day today. aboutworlddiabetesdaylogo

Here is Josh with his t-shirt, blood glucose monitor reading a surprisingly healthy 7.2!

He has his NovoRapid pen full of lovely insulin.

There is a lot of misunderstanding around diabetes. So I thought I would answer some questions and try and correct some of those misunderstandings.

Josh has Type 1 Diabetes otherwise known as Juvenile or childhood diabetes.  You do not need to be a child to be diagnosed however, Type 1 can start up any time before the age of 35 and in rare cases even later. It is an auto-immune disease and is NOT at all linked with what the person ate.

Type 1 is controlled by injecting insulin and counting carb intake. However in the early months, even up to a year, getting blood sugars under control can be extremely difficult. Josh has been diagnosed 7 months (5th May09) and has nowhere near got regular healthy blood sugars. We are still messing around trying to work out just how much insulin fits his carb intake. It seems to vary by the day.

The symptoms are thirst, weeing a lot, hunger, dry mouth, tiredness, and for a lot of pre-diagnosed type 1 people there is depression and anxiety.

It is apparently more common to be diagnosed in the Winter and Spring.

Once diagnosed the amount of insulin required will vary from patient to patient and in Josh’s case from injection to injection.

He tests his blood glucose about 4 to 8 times a day or more if required depending on activities. From the glucose levels he can work out how many units of Novo Rapid the short acting insulin to inject. He decides this based on food intake and activity-and at the moment this is a hit’n’miss game.

At night he injects a long acting insulin Glargine to get him through to breakfast. He has pens for this which come ready loaded and he dials up the units he requires.

He has to carry glucose tablets and a bottle of sugar loaded Fanta around at all times.

There is no real understanding yet on what triggers type 1 but there is a view there may be a virus and it does have a genetic factor. I have read that siblings of someone with t1d have a 1 in 10 chance of being diagnosed.

Home Education at the Museum and At Gallery

P1000987We have been using Artistic Pursuits as our main group art course.

We have reached the part (we are still on the Blue book) where we need to plan our own Gallery exhibition. So off we went to the Museum and Art Gallery to see how art work gets displayed.

And of course while we were there we just had to see all sorts of other stuff.

The BMAC is well laid out with plenty of hands on things for the children to do. In the photo above they are exploring how stained glass works and making patterns and pictures as well as a jigsaw of stained glass.

There was also some wood cuts to rub, pictures to colour and things to touch and feel.

P1010017There was also plenty of time to learn about life in the War and what a servant might be expected to do.

By the time we had been through art, stamps, Victorian living, the war, wood gingerbread moulds, the Egyptians…well Avila was nearly asleep.

Ther German Christmas market was being set up outside and K, one of the mums showed me that BMAC had a whole lots of free learning resources based on the market. Can’t find them right now, I think I’ll have to ask for the link and update later. Anyway I am sure most of you wont be wanting to rush off and do projects and lapbooks on the German Christmas market…or will you?

The Tooth Fairy came

P1000973 Yesterday Ronan was busy working and snacking when finally the wobbly tooth fell out. He was very proud of his gap which only bled a little bit and so on the left there is the boy with his new gap.

Yes, he is pulling a strange “look at my gap” face-but that’s 6 year old boys for you.

Plans were immediately hatched to ensure the Tooth Fairy arrived. The tooth was wrapped and placed under Roni’s  pillow. I was then informed that his older friend (fellow EHE lad) thought there was no such thing as a Tooth Fairy and that really it was a parent who put money there.

I asked the children if they really thought mum and dad would want to buy a tooth? After due consideration it was decided by both Ronan and Avila that such an idea was silly. So, it must be a Tooth Fairy then. That idea had a lot more merit apparently.

This morning the Tooth Fairy had been. Iona was surprised as in her day the Tooth Fairy was a bit of a Slack Alice-so much so in fact that I remember her writing to him to remind him she had a tooth waiting under her pillow. (I believe the Tooth Fairy in question retains this note).

I told Roni he could spend his £1 on anything he liked such as sweets. He replied that he thought it would be great to…use in a Co-op trolley! As my friend pointed out to me this afternoon, the boy is obviously canny as he knows he would get it back. LOL!

There are no more wobbly teeth at present.

David Cameron writes in support of Home Education freedom

Carlotta has posted an encouraging letter from David Cameron the Leader of the Conservatives.

” I share your concern about the direction the review has taken. I was impressed by the commitment that you as home educators have shown to your children. You and many others make sacrifices, forgo income, put careers on hold and battle bureaucracy in order to give your children extra care and attention. I think such commitment is admirable, and the taint of suspicion which this review has allowed to hang over home education is deeply regrettable.

I strongly believe that we should trust parents more when it comes to determining the shape of their children’s education and the whole thrust of our policies for schools are driven by a desire to give parents more control. While improving state education is our principle mission, I am deeply committed to respecting individual choice and there are many reasons, some very personal, which may incline families to opt for home education. I want a future conservative government to support them in that choice.

Of course I am also determined to ensure we have the highest standards of child protection and safeguarding in this country, but I share your concerns about the way in which issues of home education and child protection have been conflated in a way which seems to me unfair on so many exceptionally dedicated, and loving parents.

My apologies for the delay in replying. I have actually taken the time to talk to my Head of Policy, Oliver Letwin MP, who has been having his own discussions with Michael Gove MP about how we respond to the Badman Report. This is resulted in a newly-approved early day motion which Conservatives will sign. I have attached a copy of it here and I hope you will agree that
it moves matters forward in terms of our response in this very important

David Cameron.

The EDM that he wants all Conservatives to sign is:

EDM 1785
That this house acknowledges and celebrates the hard work of the many home educators in Britain who teach their children to an exceptionally high standard; recognises the excellent value they represent to the government; notes with concern the conflation of welfare concerns with education issues in government statements on home education; further notes with concern the
recommendations of the Badman Review which suggest closer monitoring of home educators, including a compulsory annual registration scheme and right of access to peoples homes for local authority officials; and calls on the government to focus on its own ability to fulfil the every child matters objectives rather than undermine the independence and integrity of home educators by enforcing the Badman recommendations.

All this looks very promising, but as an Anon commenter has pointed out there is no promise to repeal any draconian laws passed by this Government, no strong words on how the Conservatives would ensure the rights of families were protected. David Cameron has renaged on other promises so this carefully written letter doesn’t offer much- but it does offer a glimmer of hope and perhaps we can push for a statement that is just a little more concrete.

I am also very disapppointed to see on Facebook that Michael Grove MP (Con) has written an almost identical letter. I believe it is well past time that individual MPs began to think for themselves and on important matters such as the trampling the rights, duties and freedoms of families a more concerted effort would be welcomed.

Is home ed worth considering?

A Guardian post asks Is Home Schooling Worth Considering?

I think more and more people will start asking this question now that home education is getting a broader exposure- even in essentially hostile pages like the Guardian.

Continue reading

Answering questions on home education.

It has been nearly five years since I began home educating my children and the reasons seem almost irrelevant at this point. The child who was being so badly bullied in school is now a young man with a great talent doing well in college, work and with his portfolio of art. He is no longer the closed off miserable 14 yr old who could barely read when I first got him home.

I am now home educating children aged 15, 6 and 4 as well as bringing up their 2 year old sister. Unless something dreadful happens these younger children will never attend school.

My 15 year old daughter is autonomously educated, something that Graham Badman thinks is a form of education worthy of eradication. She plans her own learning and organisers her own day around her learning and the skills she wishes to hone.  I offer some guidance and help her with resources as any mother would when their child is trying to achieve something. She completed her IGCSE maths when she was 14 and got a B.  After discussion it was agreed she need not sit other gcse exams unless there is a real need to. She turns 16 in Jan and will be starting Open University courses in Feb. She wants to write for a living and certainly has a way with words, but she is aware of the difficulties in that market and has back up skills for earning a living.

But is she socialised? She is relaxed in the company of adults, children and her peers. She chats with the mums at our home ed group meetings and plays with the babies; she teaches some sessions with the group and is considered “professional” by a couple of the children. Her friends come over and she goes out with them and to Explorer Scouts. Having two older brothers she is able to hold her own with their friends too.

And the others? Well to be honest my 2 yr old is not yet socialised-but then find me one who is. The three younger children do have friends and see lots of other people of various ages. Our house is the home ed hub at the moment (although occasionally we think about getting a hall or somewhere) and there’s plenty of group lessons, play and outings.

But aren’t they hidden? Apart from being known by the fellow home ed families, the children are well  known to the neighbours and local shop owners. They are also well known at our parish church and Beavers and Scouts. When my 15 yr old wasn’t too well recently I took her to the GP and while we were there I sat quietly while she explained her symptoms and answered his questions. He was obviously surprised that a 15 year old could do this and commented on it two or three times while we were there.

Surely you need to be a teacher; no one knows all the subjects? There is a great deal my daughter has been learning that I knew nothing about when she started. Let’s take The Franklin Expedition for a start. When she wanted to learn about it neither of us knew much-now she knows a whole lot and I have learned quite a bit alongside her and from her. Her science modules and projects have been done as a joint learning excercise. One thing I would never do is teach her something false just to look like I know something. I will never forget my son being given erroneous information in science by a teacher who refused to listen to the correct answer.

At home we have access to some excellent internet resources, other parents who are often experts in their field and the library. With all this how can we all help but learn?

The younger ones are all under 7 so there isn’t much I can’t manage with them. I do have DVDs for Math (because that is something I am not much good at and Mr Steve Demme is) and I am grateful for Mr Linney for providing lessons and pronunciation for both Latin and Spanish. I am fluent in Sign Language and so teach a group of children.

What about real life? You can only get that by going to school. This gets said a lot. I can’t quite see why school equals ‘real life’ and being part of a family, local community and broader home educating community with different approaches to life and with responsibility for your learning and behaviour within those communities is ‘unreal life’. It seems to me that real life is about having the life skills necessary to live, to have self-respect and respect and care for others whatever their age or ability. If my experience of schooled children is anything to go by, schools don’t teach this at all. Sadly far too many schooled children can’t speak to anyone not exactly the same age as them at all. My dd has pointed out the appalling habit of texting friends to say they are coming to the door, to avoid having a parent answer the bell! I don’t see how an institutional set up like a school ever teaches ‘real life’.

Yeah, well maybe you do it okay, but what about those others? These ‘others’ are the ones Badman and his mates have been unable to unearth. Have I ever met families who I personally think are making a mess of home education? I have come across a family who struggled with it to a huge extent especially when a baby arrived and mum wasn’t that well. The children are now in school because, while this may surprise some people, parents do tend to know when to do that. Another family I knew were just pretty unpleasant people and yes I think that effected the education. What can I say? Home educators are human just like the rest.  I have come across other families whose approach to home education is one I wouldn’t have been happy with, but I still thought the children were doing better than most schooled children of comparable age. We are not closing down schools because so many children end up illiterate and bullied- there is no evidence that home education harms children at all and a great deal that shows home education works very well indeed.

It isn’t fair that your children might do better than mine. In an equal society they should be forced to have the same (low) standards as our children. Apparently this really is an attitude from some parents. Fortunately I haven’t come across it. I’m not sure how I would answer it. I can’t think of anything polite to say anyway. All I can say is, if you really think like this then give up your time and give it to your children so they too have a better standard of education.

You can’t teach science though can you? Actually I don’t think I ‘teach’ very much of anything. We learn together and if I happen to know extra then I’ll pass it on. However I would rather the children learned to learn, to do their own research, than having me just spout information at them.

Science is just as easy to learn as any other hands on subject. Most experiments get done in the kitchen or the garden. You need a kitchen full of white vinegar, salt, sugar, oil, red cabbage, potatoes, lemons and bicarb and you’ll need some wires and a  9 volt battery. For other stuff you’ll need to buy a little science kit. Shop around and you can pick one up for £20 or so. My daughter’s school friends complained when they saw her science work because she was able to do so many experiments compared to them.

The only aspect of science I might find difficult at home would be A’level chemistry because there are assessed lab works involved-other than that; it’s a breeze.

Homeschooled children miss out on music and drama though don’t they? Not in my experience they don’t. There is plenty of music to be learned easily at home and those of us who can play instruments share that with other families. Getting in tutors for instruments is a cost problem but music, singing and getting to grips with composers is free. Drama is often done in the group and children join drama groups in their area, as well as dance and other things.  In fact, from what my children got in school, most home ed children have better music, art and drama access than school children.

You are doing your children a disservice by making them different. (LOL I saw this written on the Guardian comments a couple of days ago!!) As I mentioned earlier my children are learning self-respect and respect for others. There is nothing shameful about being a little different. In fact the ability to be different seems to me to be a definite advantage.

Children need to get away from their parents. You are too close to your children if you keep them with you. All the evidence is that children need strong attachment to their parents and where this is missing children feel afraid, angry, lonely and miserable. Take a look at the research. Independence is learned properly through training from the family. As children grow they learn to do more and more for themselves and take on more decisions. At home they get to decide their learning and learn to work with others of all ages including adults.  There are plenty of home educated young people out there, including my own older ones, who are capable, autonomous and responsible -like adults should be.  My son’s employer comments how unusual this is in a young man of his age (18). Why is that?

Finally, I have a right and duty to the education of my children and I will ensure they get the best education possible.  For us that means home education.

Fall of the Berlin Wall. Thanks JP II

p310534-Berlin-Berlin_Wall I didn’t get around to watching the news or seeing anything about the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, but I didn’t want it to go unmentioned.

Our family has visited the Cold War Museum at Cosford Air Museum and seen the ugly slabs they have, remnants of the fallen wall.

In the history of the world many huge walls have been build around cities and even across whole areas of country. We have the ruins of Hadrian’s Wall and some of the Antonine wall left here in Britain. All these walls were built to keep invaders out, even the the Great Wall of China, although often added to by tyrants was there to protect the people and keep invaders out.

The wall built in Berlin was to make the east a prison. Not to stop invaders getting in, but to stop the people getting out. All the guards and barbed wire were on that side and most of the deaths were of desperate people seeking freedom.

Pope Leo XIII warned us what would happen if communism was allowed a foothold-and of course he was right. Finally a spark came out of Poland  though.

It is good that the massive role Pope John Paul II played in bringing down the wall and communism has not been forgotten although I never see much in the MSM on this.

Online GCSE and A’Level tuition link

I’ve added a link under ‘curriculum’ for want of a better place for Tim Johnsons online tuition. He offers quite a bit for those of a classical bent as well as what is considered the core English and Maths.

I don’t know him, but have been told he is a good’un so I am putting the info here for anyone who is interested in their children doing GCSE, IGCSE or A’levels. There is a move to try and organise an exam centre for his students as well.

He has written on the Badman review.


Say something nice about a priest (meme)

I have been tagged by Kate (at home in my Father’s house) for the “Say something nice about a priest” meme. Apparently the person who created the meme meant that we are to say something nice about a particular priest and we are to pass it on to three other bloggers to do the same.


I am going to say something about my parish priest. He is a man who quietly works hard. He doesn’t make a big deal  of what he does and frankly most of us only find out via the word of those who have received his care or because we have been there and seen it close up.

I know he has sat with a frail and sick man for over 2hrs offering comfort and the Sacraments. He spent time with the man’s wife too and did this more than once while the man was very ill.

He also did something that he made me promise never to tell- something generous and kind for a friend of mine.

He has offered a great deal of time and support to another friend of mine in a crisis where frankly professionals have been less than helpful.

Some of my favourite priests are Fr John Corapi, Fr Benedict Groeschel,  Fr Fessio SJ and of course Frs John Boyle and Ray Blake 🙂 God bless them all especially in this year of the priesthood.

I tag




Final comments on CES response to Badman Review

Interestingly when I came to check out the CES document for further fisking-it has vanished from their site.

They are taking some serious heat from parents at the moment because they are colluding with Ed Balls plans for sex ed for little ones. There’s a lot of stuff around the Catholic blogs on this so I wont write on it at this time. I will however say I believe that this already failed approach being forced on ever younger children is nasty and I am sure that Badman would love home educated children to have their innocence stripped from them too.

But back to the CES on home education. While the document has vanished I have kept back a marvellous little quote I just had to mention:

We have also been told of parents describing their home schooling
arrangements and curriculum as being “Catholic home schooling”. There is no such
model or programme of which we are aware and it is important that monitoring authorities are aware of this and feel able to revert to diocesan authorities and/or CESEW for advice if such queries arise. We would also find it helpful to be kept informed of the extent of the use of such a term, ie for what numbers of children and in what areas.

I would have thought it patently obvious that “Catholic home schooling” or as we like to say “home education”  was what went on in the Domestic Church of all families who are Catholic whether the children spend half their lives in school or not. To be fair they are talking strictly ‘curriculum’ here but then that too shows an amazing ignorance. There are a whole plethora of Catholic curricula out there (American mainly).  I am aware of Seton, Mother of Divine Grace, St Thomas Aquinas and many more. I have bought some excellent Catholic Heritage material for our family.

Many of us don’t use one set curriculum but pick’n’mix among various books and ideas that best suits our children.  There used to be a basic right to religious freedom -don’t know what happened to that.

The CES has no right whatsoever to ask what number of children are “Catholic home educated” as that is the business of the family and while I can imagine a situation (very rarely) where a Catholic family may want advice outside of home ed circles on curriculum I would bet they would go to a parish priest rather than have anything to do with the CES who have landed us with All That I Am and the useless Icons books. Are they worried that so many of us have Faith and Life in the house? LOL.

So Home educating mothers have Munchausans by Proxy? Badman actually asked!

Some things just make you laugh. Paula Rothermal informs the DCSF of her interviews with Graham Badman in which his opening question was whether home educating mothers have Münchhausen by Proxy.

Don’t laugh-apparently this is true.

The obvious slur was that home educators are of course abusers. I might add at this point that the whole diagnoses of Munchhausen by Proxy is strongly debated in pyschiatric circles. There is serious doubt whether such a disorder exists at all. But that is by the by. Paula Rothermal’s evidence here shows a man determined to see nothing positive in home education and prepared to scrap the bottom of any barrel in search of something foul to throw at us.

I hope all parents are taking note of this.

Fisking Oona Stannards Home Education Review Response Pt 2

The next bit, written on the feast of St Charles Borromeo, a man who understood education properly.

4. Do you agree that home educating parents should be required to keep the register up to date?Agree. [She agrees that parents should have to be licenced by the state to excercise their rights and duty in the education of their children. Then I notice at the foot of the page it says “EB on behalf of Oona Stannard” so who is the anonymous EB then?]
5. Do you agree that it should be a criminal offence to fail to register or to provide inadequate or false information?
Not sure. Failing to register or giving false information should be offences [so parents should face prosecution for refusing to allow their children to be owned by the state; for refusing to be licenced. This is against the teaching of the Catholic Church. Parents, not the state have the responsibility and may delegate to schools if they wish. Perhaps Ms Stannard could take a day off to read a Catechism], provided LAs advertise the duty effectively.[This makes me think Ms Stannard is well aware of the shortcomings of so many LAs. Why then does she not spend some time thinking it out instead of her usual ‘Govt must be right’ approach?} However, criminalising parents for inadequate statements of their approach to education, for example, would be harsh and probably unenforceable. How could it be proved that a statement was wilfully inadequate? So the grounds for considering that deficiencies merit criminalising the parents will need to be clarified rigorously and should only be invoked as a last resort.[All this is moot if parents weren’t being undermined and forced to register to gain a ‘licence to do what parents do’. She is already starting from the premise that family rights can be removed by the state and then finds the process a bit knotty.]
6a) Do you agree that home educated children should stay on the roll of their former school for 20 days after parents notify that they intend to home educate?
Agree. We believe that it is very important that a track is kept of each and every child, how and wherever educated. [ This answer shows she didn’t understand the question. It also shows she does not understand what happens now when a child is de-registered from school. I think she should have found out before writing this guff. She also shows no knowledge or understanding of what state a child can be in when removed from school or the damage done by forcing them to stay on role as though they may be forced back. Stannard’s lack of basic knowledge here does actually shocks me. Is she actually saying that the school the child has been removed from should be tracking and assessing the education of that child? The school that has already failed the child? ]

6b) Do you agree that the school should provide the local authority with achievement and future attainment data?

 Agree. To be precise the word ‘probable’ needs to be added before ‘future attainment’. [The SCHOOL should do this! She agrees that the schools that have failed our children -my own son was 14 and functionally illiterate when I pulled him out and the kid bullying him that the school could do nothing about ended up stabbing someone and did time in a YOI-THOSE SCHOOLS should be deciding on our children’s “probable” future attainment. Catholic schools are there to support parents in the education of their children, not usurp it and certainly not take the rights of parents and children and sell out to the state].

7. Do you agree that the DCSF should take powers to issue statutory guidance in relation to the registration and monitoring of home education?Not sure; see 6a). In principle we agree in relation to registration, [in other words; in principle we agree with removing the rights of families and parents to educate their children despite Catholic teaching to the contrary-but we have no god but caesar anyway] but the issue of monitoring is peculiarly sensitive and it is impossible to give blanket approval before seeing draft guidance. The training of staff and quality of communications will be central to success here. [Okay, we all agree LA staff need a lot more training. Of course the money to pay for it is a question and who does the training another one and why we can’t leave the home ed community to get on with when countries like the USA do well without this much interference and where both Canada and New Zealand are dropping their unnecessary registration schemes because there hasn’t been a single case of abuse in- what was it? 20 years I think.]


8. Do you agree that children about whom there are substantial safeguarding
concerns should not be home educated?
Agree. This is highly sensitive. It will be important to have complete clarity on
safeguarding matters and for these to be robustly upheld. Once again, the training
of staff will be paramount in ensuring that discretion is exercised wisely. [She agrees that children where there are safeguarding concerns should not be home educated but never thinks what those safeguarding concerns might be. Home education might be the very safest option for children who are facing bullying and violence in school. Home ed may even be a safer option for a child in a divorce where one parent may be abusive and violent and tends to turn up at the school gate. Those cases are no uncommon are they? Her blanket agreement because Big Govt says so is thoughtless and lacks any sensitivity at all]

9. Do you agree that the local authority should visit the premises where home education is taking place provided 2 weeks’ notice is given?

Not sure. We are uncertain about LAs in this role for reasons rehearsed above; might an Ofsted inspector not be better placed for this role? [ Not sure why Ofsted who inspect schools would be any better at inspecting parents, and there is no reason given in the response. It just seems to be that LAs don’t seem up to much, maybe Ofsted inspectors-equally ignorant of home education-would be better. I really don’t know what to make of this.]

The notice period seems generous.[why?] Perhaps two weeks is appropriate for the routine four weeks, six months and annual visits, [ I must have missed something. There are to be a four week visit and six months visit and then annual visits?? Does anyone know anything about this?]but it could be important to provide a right to visit at shorter notice in case of particular concerns. [Oh dear, ignorance of Catholic teaching and now ignorance of the law; If there are particular serious concerns then social services and indeed the police can simply turn up on the doorstep. The law has been around a long time].

More later.



Fisking Oona Stannards Consultation Response. pt 1

My comments will be in red. Before I start I would like to point out that the CES is a ‘service’ for Catholic schools. It never has had, and I can’t see how it ever could have any remit over the life of Catholic families as we go about our business. It has no remit over the rights and duties of parents other than for those parents who choose to delegate partial responsibility for the education of their children to a Catholic school. Therefore the CES had no need to respond to this consultation at all. Who asked them to? What does Oona Stannard or any of her staff have to do with Catholic home education?
So, to begin:
Consultation Response:
Home Education – Registration and Monitoring Proposals
Q1 Do you agree that these proposals strike the right balance between the
rights of parents to home educate and the rights of children to receive a
suitable education?
Generally agree. We start from the premise that parents are the first educators of
their children with the prime responsibility for helping them to achieve their full
potential. {Actually the Church teaches that the parents have the right and duty to the education of their children-nothing about potential there}For most families schools are one chief means of achieving this. Where
parents decide otherwise the government needs to respect parents’ wishes [on this we agree]but also to assure itself that the rights of children are fully protected.[Ah yes because parents are guilty until proven innocent; or should I ask ‘protected from what?’] We note that several of
the recommendations of the review are still to be responded to by government and
we await these developments with interest. In particular the training of Local
Authority staff is key to a balanced interpretation of the proposals in practice.[LAs respecting the law as it stands would be balanced imho]

2. Do you agree that a register should be kept?

Agree. We are aware that this feels draconian to some[most] home educators but good

home education should have no fear. [here her ignorance shines through. Already we know there is plenty for ‘good home educators’ to fear-not least the blatant anti-religious stand taken by this Government and those who snuggle up with it.We have also been made aware that ‘good home educators who us an autonomous approach have a great deal to fear. And that is just the beginning.]It is a necessary step in the protection of children and their right to education.[in what way?}

3. Do you agree with the information to be provided for registration?

Agree.[Weird because the confusion of the select committee meeting suggests no one knows what information is to be provided. I take it she agrees with whatever Badman and Balls say whenever they say it]However, most parents will need considerable guidance on how to describetheir approach to education. LAs will need to exercise discretion in this area:understanding that parents are (mostly) not professional educators and are not familiar with educational language that schools take for granted, [ So Ms Stannard envisions documents of Edu-speak filled with meaningless jargon. Well I wont be doing that for a start] while continuing to ensure that children’s rights to an efficient and suitable education are met. [That, Ms Stannard if you know Catholic teaching and the law of the land is the PARENTs job] A further factor is the dissatisfaction and lack of trust that home educating parents may be feeling towards LAs ie part of their reason for home education,[ you don’t say] so Guidance might best come from another source other than LAs. [Interesting eh? Does she envision the CES having a role in dictating to Catholic families? She can’t have much idea how much the average Catholic wouldn’t trust the CES as far as we could chuck a pascal candlestick].

more to come.


Ye gods not Oona Stannard AGAIN! CES stabs Home Education families in the back {no one surprised of course}

For over 2000 years the Catholic Church has taught that the family is the domestic church, the bedrock of a healthy society and in the sacrament of marriage, holy. She has taught that parents have a right and duty to the education of their children and She has supported that right and duty through teaching, pastoral care and through schools and universities. (Remember the Catholic Church invented the university).  Schools were there to SUPPORT parents, never usurp their role. These teachings were repeated over and over with documents on the rights of families right up to  Vat II and after. There is the beautiful document FAMILIARIS CONSORTIO written by Pope John Paul II which encapsulates the whole teaching in a simple way.

But in England we have the CES.education_imagelarge

Nothing that comes out of the CES surprises me these days. It has long proved itself no friend to Catholic families, or to real education and to call it a service is stretching a point-although it certainly serves the anti-catholic, anti-family government very well indeed.

Oona Stannard, who has no authority within the Church to dictate to families how we should bring up and educate our children seems to think she can force her views down our throats.  She is already considered dangerous to the welfare of children by parents objecting to the appalling “All That I Am” programme. She is blamed as the “chief” who ensures that schools are not allowed to buy in orthodox and well rounded Catholic curricula even for RE (let alone anything else). Despite having absolutely NO CHURCH AUTHORITY whatsoever she insists on barging in on family life at every level even when parents demand otherwise.

It is long past time the bishops of England and Wales acted on this. She should have been sacked a long time ago.

Stannard has now gone on to stab home educators in the back and makes a special effort to twist the knife in those of us who are Catholic. Nice. H/T Maire.

Worse still, I know this will be reported as ‘Bishops’ supporting the Government. On the whole I try not to be harsh to our bishops. They have a tough job and I wouldn’t want to do it. But their silence on this issue is gravely damaging. They have been complicit with Stannard’s bullying behaviour for far too long.

I am going to fisk Stannards document in a while. Then I think Catholic home educators need to get together and write to our bishops and write to Bishop O’Donoghue who seems a good man. We should have turned to him before now I guess.

Happy All Saints

ghent altarpieceH/T to Fr Dwight for posting this painting of the Ghent Altarpiece. If you click onto his blog and click the picture you’ll get a lovely full screen image. I have no idea how to do that. {Fr Dwight, while in England, talked with my dh some time before he converted and gave him a couple of books that helped him a great deal}.

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