I know that it is not everyone's experience across our country, but since I first considered embarking on our home education adventure, I have received nothing but encouragement from our County Education Department. The relationship is based on my understanding that they have their job to do as far as ensuring child welfare is concerned and, since I have nothing to hide, I am quite happy to fill in the minimal paperwork and co-operate with their wish to visit us to learn more about our educational provision. In fact, my belief in what we are doing motivates me to share that enthusiasm with other educationalists.
Not long after de-registering my children from school, I received an unannounced visit from the Education Welfare Officer, whom I invited into our home, though she was with us for only 10 or 15 minutes. I later received a letter from County with a brief form to complete for each child showing how we intended to cover various areas of the curriculum. As it was such a new venture, and I wasn't really sure at that point exactly how we would do things, I filled it out fairly briefly, but wrote a little about my primary objectives - namely to take the pressure off all the children and to see them relax - along with a little about my philosophy of education. I was informed that we would receive a visit from a Home Education Officer in due course and that they would be in touch. In the meantime, I signed up to the County Home Education e-mailing list which I have found to be helpful in that it informs me of special events and useful information relevant to our local area. For example, through the listing, I heard about a space exploration day especially for Home Educated children at a local RAF museum, for minimal cost, which I promptly booked and which the boys attended and enjoyed. There is actually a lot going on in our local area if we are able to tap into it.
The months passed with no other contact from County .... until last week when, with schools breaking up, I was called by a friendly Home Education Officer who arranged to visit us a few days ago. He stayed about an hour and a half. The boys were quite excited to have the chance to show off all the work they have been doing and enjoyed telling him about all their projects enthusiastically. They took such pride in their work and discoveries. Of course, I was nervous as this was our first visit. Had we been doing enough? Would he find our provision satisfactory? Although I was eager to make a good impression, I confess I wasn't really worried because, as I said above, I believe very much in what we are doing and I am quietly confident.
Our visitor spoke to us with each child in turn, and wrote notes about the kind of things they were learning. He was very interested in all the boys told him, and commented on their confidence. We were really pleased when he came to his summary sheet and told us we could not be classed 'satisfactory' - We exceeded expectations. My husband gets fed up in school - as pupils probably do too - with being judged by Ofsted as 'satisfactory'. Sometimes we all like to exceed expectations! So, unless we seek help, we are now left alone by County to continue our journey unhindered for another 12 months.