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  • Justin Hannam

Raising The Banner

Updated: Feb 18, 2021


It's starting to feel like we’re sat in a trench with bombs starting to land all around our position. It’s a little frustrating as I am yet to bring anything to the fight. Its not really a war I wanted to be involved in, or one I particularly want to take place right now, not whilst I’m home educating my children anyway. I get the sense from the home education Facebook pages that the battle is intensifying. Here in the UK, I see groups taking local authorities to court for illegal treatment of the home education community. I see the government moving towards reform for home education. I see home education Facebook groups closing down the hatches, making it harder for them to be infiltrated by the enemy. To join these movements people need to answer questions declaring allegiance to the home ed army, and sometimes this needs to be verified by another Allie. These are actions that are put in place as the war machine of the government can be heard starting up its engines and we can feel the vibrations of the armoury rumbling our way (I am very much aware that this analogy is somewhat over the top, but I do need to use my drama degree at some point in my adult life).




It makes sense that the home ed community closes ranks likes this to protect itself from an enemy who is scared of the unknown. The enemy is scared as their way of thinking, their way of educating is showing cracks. Families are bailing from the system in high numbers as they begin to realise there is another way, there is the other path. Methods within the education system are dated and don’t work for a lot of the children who are being failed by the system. It has struggled to stay up to date with a changing world. The look of a classroom in 2021 is not much different to that of a classroom when schools were first made compulsory in the late 1800’s. The purpose back then was to get pupils prepared for working in factories, this is not the world we live in now. An example of its failure is standardised testing. Should we really spend so many years in school and leave with nothing but a collection of numbers? Are these numbers meant to define our options for the rest of our lives? If our numbers aren’t good enough in our GCSE’s, is that it? Is our life over?


Who exactly is this enemy that we are fighting? Is it the teachers? For me, no. Being someone who works with children, I can not fault a teachers hopes and dreams when they start out. You don’t fall into a career like that unless you think you can make a difference in a child’s life, enriching their world in some way. Many home educators themselves are ex-teachers and through conversations with them I realise it is the red tape, the lack of freedom to follow pupils interests that have crushed their once great intentions. Then are we fighting the Headteachers? Again I think not, mainly for the same reasons I have mentioned above, for them its even more red tape. What about schools? I don’t think this is the enemy, there are many good schools out their doing great things for many pupils. There are a lot of up and coming independent schools that are doing wonders with new techniques. How about the families who attend these schools? It can sometimes feel this way for some of us, as a few of these people look down their noses at home education. However, this is a lack of knowledge on their part (not necessarily their fault). When one chooses a different path, the people who stick to the main road will naturally get defensive about their own choices, this is simple psychology. Others can see it as an attack on the choices they have chosen for their own children. Is it the system? Absolutely. The decisions made from the top, people such as Gavin Williamson, a person who has no experience of what is to work with children, a person who will want to be known for making change in the world. I find it interesting that a person who can be Secretary of State for defence also has the same set of skills to become the Secretary of State for education. Does it not make sense that a Secretary for State for education have some experience in education? There are other names of ill informed people trying to make changes in the wrong way but I can not list them all. Instead of supporting home education, they appear to be tightening a noose around it, this is a reaction to the popularity of its growth. The government itself is scared of the unknown.


As reform in home education looms in the not to distant future, what can we do to make a difference as we roll into battle? I mention the tightening of groups on Facebook, the exclusivity of them becoming part of our armoury. This is probably my helmet as I sit in the trench, a bit of protection. I mention groups going to battle with local authorities in the courts, this is definitely the artillery, the bombs flying over my head. I wish I could join these fights but its just not who I am and that’s ok. If I don’t join with the artillery and I don’t want to be seen as a conscious objector, I still need a rifle and a bloody good one to take my own battle on the offensive. Outside of the home education community, very few people actually understand what we do, how we home educate. All families are unique in their approach to home education, they do what suits their families and children first and foremost, there is no right or wrong way. Here at The Other Path we want to raise a banner in celebration of home education and its families. A banner that educates people about what home education actually is, what it means to be part of our community. A banner that celebrates the difference in the many approaches as we march on The Other Path. A banner where new members can stand under and feel protected as they take their first steps into a different world. By raising our banner of celebration we hope to change the perception of home education and show it as a possibility for the families who dream of change but cant see the reality of how it can work. When our troops are having bad days in the trenches we hope our banner will remind them they are not alone, that nothing is perfect and together we can get prepared for another battle, another dawn. There are many others that will take a direct fight to the changes that are on the horizon, more aggressive and to them, I salute you. That type of confrontation is not something where I am particularly suited. At the other path we will raise the banner of celebration, we will share the good, the bad and the ultimate beauty that is home education and we ask that you join us and together we can march ‘over the top’ into a new future. This banner will be my rifle.



 


If you have a story you would like to share about your home education journey then get in contact with us at hello@theotherpath.co.uk . Please help us to raise the profile of this great option. If you come across a parent who is interested in home education or if you know a family that is struggling please sign post them to us so they can see they are not alone.


Have a splendid day.


Justin

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