Reflecting on 2014 in Home Education here in Northern Ireland

Lots going on at the North Down Co-Op Christmas Party

2014 has been a busy, extraordinary and sometimes alarming year for Home Education in Northern Ireland.  We've launched a new website, seen the birth of two new groups and our existing groups go from strength to strength.  We've tackled themes from Vikings to the International Space Station at our meet ups, visited everwhere from Museums, to Farms, Supermarkets and even Stormont!  We've welcomed babies, made friends, grown and learned and changed together.

And then the consultation!  The Draft Policy arrived on our collective desk in April this year and we were all shocked at the attitude it revealed.  Parents were horrified to see a government body attempt to go so far beyond their legal powers, and to see the Boards' attempt to smear home educating families with implications of 'hidden children' and selfishness in prioritising parents' rights over our childrens' education, without evidence of any sort.  In fact as we all know our rights are for the protection and nurture of our children - parents are almost always the best person to decide for their children because we know them best and we love them best.

The process undoubtedly made us stronger, better connected and more aware that our strength lies in our community.  Our numbers have grown as word has spread about the consultation and more parents are discovering that they don't have to accept the Education and Library Boards' word on the law. Families who have had visits and monitoring for years are relieved to discover they don't have to put their children through that any more, and to discover a community that will support them and their children in their home educating journey.

We have shown that we can work together across all backgrounds, religious beliefs, races, cultures and indeed educational approaches.  We are friendly, welcoming, smart, effective, well informed, well intentioned and well organised. We have a lot to be proud of!

Here's to a great year of growing and learning together, and hopefully not too much politics...