Campaigners give broad welcome to school starting age proposals

Parents Outloud

A group of campaigners who want a more flexible approach towards the school starting age says it broadly welcomes the proposals on the issue published on the 15th December by the Department of Education, but would like them to go further.

 The Department has proposed that parents should have the right to request a year’s deferral of their child’s primary school enrolment where they believe it would be in their child’s best interests.

 However, under the proposals, parents would have to provide evidence that their child is failing to meet developmental milestones and requests would only be granted in “exceptional circumstances”.  

HEdNI supports the right of ALL parents to make the decisions necessary to fulfil their duty to provide their children with a suitable education within the meaning of the Education Order 1986.   Home Education is one legal option, but in taking up the service offered by schools parents do not entirely divest themselves of their legal responsibilities. We don’t consider that the circumstances need to be exceptional in order to warrant deferral.  Indeed it would be in dereliction of the parental duty under the Education Order to send a child to school if it would not meet their needs. 

Calling Fermanagh home educators...

A new meet up is being planned local to you, if you're interested then get in touch.

Meeting up with local home educating families is a great source of support, inspiration and fun!

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.

Radio Ulster Talkback on Home Education

Radio Ulster Talkback on home education (about 1hr10 in from the start).

We are touched to hear our site described as 'well intentioned and well organised' - if you're well intentioned and well organised... and well informed and well advised... then you can achieve anything!

A drift towards standardisation - Draft Policy by the back door?

Drinking Straw Stick Men, and why not.

Home educators are waiting for the outcome of the recent consultation and the merger of the five Boards into one by April '15.  

A recent exchange with the North Eastern Board has highlighted to us the danger that the Single Board, when created, will simply take the most common of the five Boards' current habits and apply them in the absence of a properly scrutinised Policy.

The NEELB had recently (and probably innocently) borrowed a form from the BELB for use as a prompt for parents to write a report about their educational provision.  Apparently in the aftermath of the active phase of the consultation, an increasing number of families are opting to keep their contact with the Board in writing.  The greater awareness amongst home educating families of their legal options in this regard as a side effect of the consultation can only be positive.

The form in question gave the impression that parents were required to follow a curriculum (possibly even the Northern Ireland Curriculum), have a timetable, meet a certain quota of working hours and provide the child's opinion - though the NEELB indicated that the accompanying letter would describe it as non-statutory and a guide only.  The form has been modified after discussions with HEdNI, but would have passed unopposed into practice if we had not been alerted to its existence.

All-Ireland Winter Reading Challenge Starting Now!


Why not join the Home Education Winter Reading Challenge?

Just for fun, and a way to explore new books and authors with home educators all over Ireland.  Every time you read a book (or for younger readers, have a book read to you) write down the name on your list. At the end of the reading period, count up the total number of books and/or pages you've read.  

If your child would like to write a story, poem or book review, try and keep the word count to a max of about 500/750 words and email it to the address on the reading sheet below.

Download the record sheet (.doc or .pdf) and get reading!

St John Ambulance teens earn awards!

St John's Ambulance Teens

These home educated siblings Christopher aged 17 and Hallie aged 15 have earned certificates on First Aid level 2 and Caring for others, to go towards The Grand Prior Award. The awards gained are for 1st place Challenge cup, Cadet effiency award, 1st place fundraising, 2nd place Challenge cup. Christopher will be now starting his Almafi Award and Hallie is continuing with her Grand Prior Award.

For more information on St John Ambulance check out the website here:

Home educator nominated for mum of the year

Heather with her hamper
Heather and family
Heather was kind enough to write a little for us about how and why she was nominated:

Mr Storey Presents the Petition to the Assembly

Mr Storey presented the petition to the Assembly today.

Mr Principal Deputy Speaker: Mr Storey has sought leave to present a public petition in accordance with Standing Order 22.  The Member will have up to three minutes to speak.

Home Education on Radio Ulster 

Home education and the petition is discussed briefly at 52:30.

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