For a variety of reasons the conventional education doesn’t feel like it works for many families. It was only after I quit working in a school that my eyes were opened to the wide range of alternative education options out there. Below is a summary of a few popular alternatives. There is no one-size fits policy for children developing and getting an ‘education’. The more this is reflected in the variety of pathways open to parents and families the better.
Some families take the very tough decision of deciding to home-school their children. Whilst this can be quite a nerve-wracking decision to take there are plenty of benefits to home education. It has come under the spot light increasingly more in recent times as the numbers of home-educators have grown.
According to the UK law, everyone has a legal right to home educate their children.
Section 7, Compulsory Education, 1996 Education Act:
“The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive an efficient, full-time education suitable–
a) to his age, ability and aptitude, and
b) to any special education needs he may have,
either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.”
Home Education allows your child the freedom, time and space to explore and pursue their interests and learn in a way that suits them. It can be a very empowering experience for the child and family to take education into their own hands.
Families can decide to home-school due to a vast number of reasons and for varying lengths of time. Poor experiences in schools, families that are constantly travelling or live and work abroad or in remote areas, children in-between schools after re-locating and more.
And the benefits can be huge, producing self-motivating, self-disciplined individuals from an earlier age and to target specific interests that the child may have in a uniquely created curriculum by the themselves and their parents.
In fact there are quite a few famous people that have themselves been home-schooled
Emma Watson Julian Assange J. R. R. Tolkien Virginia Woolf
Lewis Carroll Alexander Bell Florence Nightingale Thomas Edison
Serena Williams Agatha Christie Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
If you’re interested in homeschooling and would like to chat about it then please get in touch. I would be happy to share my experiences with families that have homeschooled. There are also many groups on Facebook where you can contact families local to you for meetups, advice and more directly from people that homeschool themselves. The support network for families that homeschool is very strong in some communities.
The famous A.S. Neill from Scotland founded the very first democratic school in 1923, called Summerhill. Built upon a utopian faith that a child has the ability to direct their own learning themselves. Becoming familiar with the work of Sigmund Freud at a young age he came to believe that children had within them something of an innate goodness and ability to self-govern.
Here children were free to grow emotionally and develop naturally in a nurturing environment without the fear of adults and the traditional education of the 1920’s. Children would take part in private lessons if they wished so and attend therapy sessions with Neill. Regular community meetings were set up for both the children and adults to establish boundaries, rules and how they wished the school to be run.
A school or system not without its critics for sure, it has survived up to this present day and you can arrange to visit Summerhill on one of their open days if you get in touch with the school directly. It is now run by Neill’s granddaughter Zoe and a visit can show you an unorthodox way of education, but one that can be fascinating.
Democratic Schools although haven’t exploded, have grown throughout the world. I am part of the staff at the East Kent Sudbury Valley School in Margate which opened in January 2019 (http://eastkentsudburyschool.org.uk/model/)
Check out a list of democratic schools around the world to find out more.
Forest Schools are an increasingly popular choice for families with children in Early Years Education and Primary School. A learner-centred approach to discovering the natural world and all the benefits that may come from spending time in nature.
The concept originated in Scandinavia in the 1970s due to a lack of indoor facilities for pre-school children and spread across to England in the 1990s. The natural world is the primary learning resource for all children, in a more hands on and child-lead way of learning with a big emphasis on the children learning to manage risk.