Our Philosophy

Our names are Mark and Geraldine and we live in London with our two children Owen and Anya who were born in 2001 and 2003. In 2010 (Anya aged 7 and Owen aged 8) we made the decision to take them out of mainstream education and home educate them. We felt that the school environment was stifling their creativity and that we had the skills, knowledge and experience to offer our children a more varied education that would allow them to achieve their potentials and flourish.  

We are fully aware of our duties derived under Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 to ensure that we provide an efficient, full-time education, suitable to Owen and Anya's age, ability, aptitude and the special educational needs they have. With a clear understanding of our legal responsibility our educational philosophy has continued to evolve during the period we have been electively home educating. Although the fundamental principles have remained the same, our understanding of an education, which is of intrinsic benefit to the individual has developed and we are now able to ensure Owen and Anya's educational needs are met without being constrained by any artificial boundaries between learning and life.

The fundamental principles of our educational approach is influenced by studying the many and varied books and articles currently in the public domain, written by a variety of authors including Jan Fortune-Wood, John Taylor Gatto, Linda Dobson, Ken Robinson, Harriet Pattison and A S Neill, and also the huge body of information currently available about home-based education on the internet. Therefore, our elective home-based education has developed into a whole life learning approach which is directed and regulated by Owen and Anya. Learning takes place all the time naturally and continually in the home and community environment.

We believe Owen and Anya are always the people best placed to know what they want and need to learn. We think that by following Owen and Anya's desire to know, understand or acquire a particular skill or piece of knowledge or experience we can provide them with access to the appropriate resources for facilitating this. This approach allows us to access external learning resources - e.g. museums, leisure centres, libraries or suitable courses of study and internally available resources - e.g. videos, books, appropriate worksheets, the internet and ITC applications etc. We ensure that Owen and Anya are provided with a rich and stimulating environment that is conducive to learning, and that they are allowed to find out what they are interested in by being exposed to a variety of experiences, people and learning stimuli. They are allowed the freedom to experiment without fear of failure and negative criticism. We have always fostered the belief in our family that there is no such thing as a mistake, only a learning experience. This ensures that the emphasis is placed on what can be learnt from any given situation and on any action that needs taking in order to move things in a helpful and productive direction.

 We encourage lots of verbal interaction and think that this is one of the most valuable aspects of our educational provision. Warm, responsive communication enables Owen and Anya to share their interests, news, information and ideas and gives them opportunities to express their needs and desires and explore their interest. Practicing empathic listening and active attention allows us to be alert to Owen and Anya's affective and cognitive needs, in order that they may be supported and nourished. It is often through explanation of a concept, discussion of an area of interest, or simple communication of information that Owen and Anya are able to assimilate and internalise newfound knowledge. Additionally simple conversations often sparked by seemingly unimportant events can lead to the deepest philosophical discussions, debates and areas of research or can simply in an instant cause one or both parties to find instant clarity of thought. Whilst encouraging verbal interaction in an atmosphere of mutual respect we also facilitate space for quiet contemplation where Owen and Anya can develop ideas and concepts at their own speed. We aim to enable Owen and Anya to foster the confidence to ask questions of whomever, wherever and wherever. If questions are asked of others, or us, which cannot be immediately answered we endeavour to develop skills and strategies to find ways of shedding light on these problems. Owen and Anya's questioning, their making sense of the world, as it directly relates to them, forms the very foundation of their learning. Owen and Anya lead their education in the direction that they need to take it in order to find out what they need or want to know.

 Our home-based education allows for a high degree of flexibility and spontaneity. This ensures that we can meet Owen and Anya's needs in an extremely efficient way, which we would be unable to do if constrained by rigid timetables or subject boundaries.  As they are intellectually motivated by their natural curiosity, they are able to pursue work that is meaningful to them. This very creative process allows Owen and Anya to satisfy their need for knowledge within any given area; they are able to fuse one piece of knowledge to another without the artificial limitations of a predestined journey into a specific area in isolation. Similarly Owen and Anya's 'work' is produced not for the fulfilment of others, but for the fulfilment of self. This ensures there is no pressure on Owen and Anya to 'perform' as we believe this would interfere with the natural learning process. One outcome of producing work for the fulfilment of others, especially where a value judgement will be forthcoming, is a natural tendency to stick to known areas of competency, stifling learning and creativity.

If Owen and Anya choose to study GCSE specifications and/or other courses leading to qualifications (e.g. courses in FE or the Open University) in the future we believe they will most likely to succeed precisely because undertaking these courses will be self-imposed challenges. We strongly feel that at such time they will be well placed to achieve in both core and specialised disciplines.

Core Principles

 We believe:

·  That the learning approach we are providing will allow Owen and Anya to begin and maintain the natural process of life-long learning.

·  That this approach will facilitate the natural acquisition of the high-level emotional and cognitive intelligence required to function in a modern and civilised society.

·  That they will bring that emotional and cognitive intelligence to all their learning and life decisions.

·  That they will follow their intrinsic motivations and interests in order to decide in which directions they want to take their learning.

·  That they will continue to have their 'special educational needs' met in the manner of their choosing with our continued support and understanding.

In the short term we aim to ensure that Owen and Anya are allowed to continue to heal, both psychologically and intellectually from the trauma their school experience. This process will be integral to establishing firm foundations for their learning journey.

 In conclusion:

Our home-based education is efficient by definition in that it achieves that which it sets out to achieve moment by moment - i.e. as any learning undertaken is in direct response to the learner's intrinsic motivation. Owen and Anya's interests, drives and aptitudes should provide the energy for learning, thus ensuring that this learning is naturally garnered at their precise level and is optimised by harnessing their abilities and learning styles. As our educational approach is a whole life approach with no artificial boundaries dividing the two it is by definition full-time.