Saturday 21 February 2015

At long last an update!

With great surprise I have just seen that my last post was June 2014.
So much has happened educationally and otherwise with my family that perhaps the most helpful post would be to disclose the past few months of my older children's secondary education.

For each and every home schooler, one can never foresee exactly what will become of their children's education- which paths they will take, how many dozens of times they change their minds on which course they want to read at University (or even go at all), which A levels to take, or taking a more diverse path with a vocational qualification like a BTEC or HND.
And all this on top of preserving their faith we have tried so diligently and tirelessly to instil within them!

My eldest son Ben chose to try the brand new sixth form in the local comprehensive after being home schooled all his life. At 16yrs he stepped into school for the first time and settled in as if he had always been there. He is a naturally warm, affable and extremely laid back young man; a teacher's dream to teach, and so his life became very structured and he quite enjoyed the new experience of school, always making sure he told his Mam 'it will never match home schooling though'!

I cannot pretend we were entirely satisfied with all the teaching- some teachers were poorer than others and there was an obvious lack of experience with one particular subject which had never been taught there before. This was a disappointment and it reflected in the marks of all the pupils.

Ben ended up with very acceptable grades and had always planned a year out as he was still only 17 when he sat his A2s. (He was the baby of the entire 110 pupils in school!)
Considering this he managed the depth and the amount of work (which shocks most people, especially after GCSEs) efficiently and managed to have a lively social life at the same time.(Nothing like my over active mind had feared, thankfully!)

What did surprise us was that even though Ben applied to five Universities, he decided to not go, well, not this year, the reason being he questioned whether it would be beneficial to what he would like to do which is join the police force in Central London.

Currently, he is in Campos, the traditional community in Brazil, for a few months with a Catholic friend. He is having numerous exciting experiences of which we feel very happy and hopeful about- administering to the homeless, cleaning and helping with the beautiful Church which they live next door to,  re-building a nursing home, learning Portuguese and hopefully building a Confessional. All these experiences will bring them great graces and teach them important lessons in life- perhaps, ultimately, this is the highest form of education?

My eldest daughter Marie has chosen a more unique path for her secondary education which (admittedly) matches her personality well! She sat 5 IGCSEs and then has gone straight onto an Access course from home. She is studying nursing with the Distance Learning centre       which is all done online and at home (bliss!) and will, hopefully, be her route onto a degree course where she will study Mental Health Nursing. They will take students from 16+ although they do prefer them to be older.
Marie is also studying Latin A level at an Oxford School four hours per week. Their Classics department is excellent and she felt she could not turn this opportunity down having always loved Latin. Nursing and Latin- eclectic and very Marie..

Knowing what to do for children's secondary and higher education can be daunting.  As Catholics one must be discerning, but also pragmatic at the same time. Whilst some people would not choose to send their children into school/college to study at a higher level, it is also extremely arduous to do so at home. For us I felt it was right to send Ben to sixth form and I feel it did him no harm or damage, but instead some good as he saw and witnessed how other peers behaved (exceptionally and surprisingly well, thank God) and it was a step into the world without it being too far from home. In fact, it was just 15 minutes walk away so each day he would return and we would have the opportunity to discuss and chat about his day and his work. This, I believed, was vital for that transition.

Letting go is the absolute hardest thing to do as a Mother, yet it is also a joy to watch one's children flourish and grow, in their education and learning, and in their spiritual lives.

May God bless each and every one of our dear children in their lives as they try to follow God's Holy will. We place them under the patronage and care of the Most Holy Family.


  1. What a lovely inspiring post. You have a beautiful family who are a real credit to you. I'm sure their early home based education will stand them in good place for life's ongoing journey xx

  2. From a friend, Alexandria Murray;

    This was a particularly inspirational read for me, Amanda. We are looking at 6th forms for VJ when she turns 16 - specifically Princethorpe College. I have mixed feelings about it all, but God's will be done, no matter what I want! One of the nicest things about homeschooling is the confidence to go against the grain. Your children's willingness to do something different is a testament to their parents!

  3. Nice to see you back, Amanda :-)
    It is hard, but we've encouraged our children to follow their own path and if it's unconventional (which, let's face it, their whole lives have been thus far), we have to be able to trust them to know what they want and to make the right choices even when others do not approve! Your children are strong, balanced, determined young people and they will bring so much to whatever they choose to do. Isn't that an educational success story, no matter what grades or qualifications they end up with?

  4. Thank you for the very kind and supportive comments. Writing a blog has not panned out how I expected with the, inevitable, referring to my own children's education as examples more often than I expected!

    However, I do not claim, in any way, to have the answers, I am still asking the questions, whilst watching them all grow and mature in front of my eyes.

    This is the thing- it all goes by so quickly, and it is down to trusting in God and also in them, to choose wisely but also for themselves as ultimately, it is their lives, not ours. God bless.

  5. Thankyou Amanda for a very interesting and informative post. It is very helpful to see first hand the various options available to our children as they progress in their learning. It's also very useful to have an honest opinion about the us and downs of the paths your children chose. It seems to me that the first lesson for parents in home education is that one size does not fit all and the is great joy to be had in seeing how unique the path can be for each child. Blessings to you and almost readers of the blog.

  6. From a friend, Charles Bradshaw;

    What is so particularly beautiful and important in what you have written is that you understand how each and every person as God's own gift has different and diverse talents as well as characters. This is reflected in their decisions for life and schooling and their future. The great mistake of modern education is to deprive the person of their character and impose upon it an agenda which is detrimental at least ultimately. What a truly Catholic education does is to acknowledge each person's character and encourage them to live it to the full. For in doing that, they each reflect a different facet of God's glory. Whilst of course the example of the saints and their lives are important, nothing is more important than the sanctification of our own lives. Drawing inspiration from saints that are close to us is a great help and inspiration yet the path to sanctity is through the ordinary duties of every day life lived to the fullness of our being which God gave us, all in union with Him. I find that answer of Faith in the education you give to your children as well as in the way you allow them the freedom to chose. God bless you all!