Thursday 15 January 2009 9.27am
I remember when my children were very small and one or two people talked about home schooling, I thought they were mad. Most probably because I found it quite hard spending long periods with very small children.
But my second is now in year 6, and we are having a nightmare time. She was candidate number 2000 odd for one selective state school, and our nearest secondary (GCH) only has 15 places for non CofE and had three sittings, with queues round the block for each. Our son never got allocated a state school place. Lambeth are simply too short of them, and the nearest they came to finding us anything was saying there might be a spare place somewhere in Camden, but then never got back.
The trouble is second time round is that girls private schools seem to be able to demand higher standards, and there is no certainty that anyone will want to take our money. So a whole round of demanding and long tests. (At the moment schools are being rated on the standard of the snack they provide.)
As a result I have ended up spending lots of time with her, supporting her through homework and exam practice and also encouraging out of school activities in order to build her confidence. (I really recommend the latter. Being good at something outside school because she enjoys it and works at it has genuinely carried over into her confidence and approach in school.)
Actually, apart from the fairly pointless non-VR practice (luckily she likes Suduko and so does not mind it, and also we have not done anywhere near the amount that would have got her into one of the really sought after state schools), it has been fun, and knowing about what she is learning means that we have been able to encourage her interest in a variety of ways. And has slightly left me feeling that rather than work (in two jobs) in order to pay for an education that the State chooses not to provide to inner-City children, not working and home-educating might have been a more interesting option. Though I would be concerned that it might all be a bit intense and cause an awkward blurring of the partent and teacher role.
I do know one family who have home-educated 5 children until the age of 10. Lovely kids and all very close. Poster children for the idea. I know a second family who are in the process of removing four children from school, in part because their eldest (9) has some learning issues, though is in and belongs in mainstream school, and so had few options in either the state or private sector. I quite envy the mother. (They are also planning to move away from London which then gives them the option of a properly comprehensive comprehensive for their daughter if she misses school.)
I assume that a recession, and a frozen house market, may mean more home schooling, as private schools become increasingly unaffordable and people can't move.
Anyway good luck.
I looked back at the secondary school thread from 2 years ago and saw that the conclusion was that we would need a stiff drink when it was all over. This time round I feel the same, but in spades. My daughter is bearing up and has approached it all with a surprising degree of maturity, but that does not take away from the fact that it is awful.
And we have been really lucky in getting help from someone on the forum who knows about the process and who has been absolutely kind in explaining it to us. You know who you are. Take a bow!