‘School is very oppressive’: why home-schooling is on the rise

Nov 4, 2018 by

Exams, rules, timetables: do teachers know what’s best for children? Increasing numbers of British parents don’t think so

by Sally Williams –

Every morning Ben Mumford starts his school day with maths. At the age of 10 he is already working at GCSE level, but he doesn’t always bother to get out of his pyjamas in time for the class. He reads more books than most of his friends, studies science on the beach, and recently built a go-kart in a technology lesson. Ben is happy and fulfilled. All, his mother Claire Mumford believes, thanks to home-schooling. “It’s not that I’m anti-establishment,” says Mumford, who has been home-schooling Ben and her other children, Sam, 11, and Amelia, eight, for the last year. “It’s just that schools haven’t got the time to nurture and teach children the way I think they should. School is very oppressive for young people. It’s not natural to be sat at a desk all day, with fluorescent lights, computer screens, barely able to see outside.” Her children get “time to relax and to be kids – to go to the woods, build dens and to learn what they’re excited about.”

Mumford, 40, a community volunteer, was born on the Isle of Wight, where her father had taken early retirement as an army captain following an accident, and her mother was a former teacher. She moved back about eight years ago, when she separated from the children’s father, a chauffeur.

She describes her style of home-education as “child-led”. The only formal lesson is maths, where the children work from books for half an hour every morning. “Then we see what we want to do that day,” she says. Lessons can take place in the library or the woods; rather than learning science, they “experience it” by growing plants, say, or by digging water channels on the beach. Structured weekly activities include youth club; home-ed drama group; talks by the police, air ambulance or the coastguard organised by Rookley Home-Ed Meet, a group on the island made up of around 20 families; and football training with Southampton FC on the mainland.

Amelia also does work experience in a hardware shop in her village, and has widened her social group to include sixtysomethings and a variety of dogs. She is also learning the Latin names of flowers. “The job has been amazing for her confidence,” says Mumford.

Source: ‘School is very oppressive’: why home-schooling is on the rise | Education | The Guardian

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