MS 2014 – SB

SO, this year is the big departure from previous mission statements. It is a year plan, unlike the loose structure of the previous 2 year plans, and we are hoping to achieve what is contained herein. As always, the mission statement is discussed in the themes and emphasis with SB before being committed to blog. Here, though, it is in my words and with my spin and not necessarily how it will be delivered or achieved when translated into real life. I write this in part to help formulate my thoughts, see if things are achievable, what I might need to do to facilitate. I write in part so that in the future I can look back and see what we [SB as a clear part of this] thought we would like to do. I write this in case one day I am challenged on our educational provision. I write this so that other home educators wondering what to do for secondary school can read and see how a different family organised things. The more voices in this respect the better.

As I have said before, we have, I think, delivered more or less on our initial basic mission statement for SB. She has gained a basic warp and weft tapestry of knowledge that we are now embroidering with extension of the things that she loves. We have had a lot of fun a long the way, done a lot of playing, visiting, messing about and forming bonds with other home educators who have become her friends and peers. There are many educational philosophy strands mooted about, structured, child led, autonomous. I no longer really know where to put us as I think we have utilised different methods at different times. We have followed our home educating journey by how it seems to suit us and SB as a unit, not in relation to how anyone else choses to home educate. Much of the education has been done not just by ‘text’ books, but by choosing good literature that cover historical periods, well written and interesting or good biographies with explanations on scientists, explorers, and well written ‘fact books’ that i strew in the home ed room, and on a shelf in the loo [which are always read]. Also by visiting museums, re-enactments, science faires, or watching fact DVD’s and general discussion. Some times the education we are providing  may be more outward, with visits and groups, or or inward, with fact books, good literature, DVD and conversation with ‘curriculum books’  just one of the strands.

In 2012 we changed the pace, moving out of our first period of home ed, and into the second, consolidating and expanding phase. This was where we aimed to make sure she had a solid ground start, and then gradually workeed on accelerating the learning/doing pace vs the fiddle faddle space. 2012-2013 was a springboard for where to go next. It was still very free flowing as before, but with a slight increase emphasis on adapting to curriculum book work and aimed to provide a transistion to when SB wished to move into an examination phase in learning critical reading skills and responding to an additional socratic teaching/learning style rather than a predominant heuristic method. Gradually, although still child led, we have become more structured. We anticipated this being a 2 year transition experience.

However, in 2013-2014 we took the opportunity to do an immersion French exchange with en famille. Something that we hadn’t anticipated doing and so took a diversion. Our home ed mission statements have never been a template that we will stick to, rather than a possible pathway and direction, so when SB had a clear desire to do something different, and to devote essentially 6 months to ‘becoming french’ all other elements took a back seat. She went to school in France, learnt a lot about systems and schools from that but perhaps apart from French, not much academically. But the whole experience was just so much more than about learning French and the academics, it was about culture, stepping in someone else’s shoes and walking those kilometers. For that, it was an invaluable window and opportunity. The reciprocal exchange with her french sister coming here for 6 months also taught us all far more than mere academics. Though we did take the opportunity to restart SB on her original 2 year themes, there were changes incorporated to suit her french sister and learning together as a family – in particular the grand history project and it was back to a more autonomous, heuristic flow.

Now we need to start planning for academic achievements as SB would like to go to university. The future is not clear, as in 2017 the new exams come in, and who knows how easy they will be to access as home educators. Currently of gcse, most home educators do IGCSE, as arranging course work marking, controlled assessments, and even the spoken part of language exams is very difficult. You wouldn’t imagine that it would be so hard to access exams since the LA’s are so keen to pin home ed down to school patterns, but they provide here currently no assistance in helping to find, arrange examination centers. As home educators I will need to write and beg local schools both state and private and hope one will be agreeable and then pay both the examination entry costs, administration fees and invigilator costs. These aren’t our only options, there are ou courses – though now these have fees equivalent to university so we are unlikely to choose this, other equivalents for some subjects [arts award, associated board music exams, MOOCs] and  as a back up, do the last year in school and either gcse or the international baccalaureate. We are considering our IGCSE options for this summer in the way we would consider a trial of an option. We hope that SB would do well, it would be good to pass all those sat, and maybe get a B. However, the biggest thing to us is proving that SB with our facilitation can do this at home. That home education is a reasonable path for her still. She is clear she much prefers being home educated than schooled. This year, the education will clearly be far more structured, though still child led, so that she can achieve her examination goals. [ we have a v v vague thought of french, classical civ and one more this year, the other 2 and chemistry next year dependent in part if she does en famille again, and 2 english and physics and maybe something else the next year  - so potentially 9 or 10 in total - and she is wondering about something like psychology or maybe the latin or maybe something more applied like business studies, which is possible currently without controlled assessments, but all is subject to change! For the music, the vague plan is a grade 6 for clarinet and piano, maybe recorder, as well as the music theory by the end of 2017, and she might try for the silver arts award. I think if she achieves all of this it will have been a stunning effort and success, so am leaving this as very provisional.]

In my day to day job, I see people who have come into my profession the ‘direct’ route – gcse, a-level, degree, and those that have come round to it later, not necessarily with gcse, a levels that you would expect, but obv still the degree – often a previous one, some job for a while and then the change. it reminds me that education and life are flexible. that the direct route may have some surface appeal for the obviousness and straightness of the path, but that there is always a choice to change your path, acquire previously ignored skills/exams/ knowledge if you want to later. I hope to educate SB to have choices, but also to know that if at some crossroads she isn’t where she wanted to be, she can go back and take a different route, even if the journey is longer. Learning and education is lifelong, and I have certainly learnt a lot from our home education journey.

In home educating a secondary age child, many of my peers in this have sent their children to school. It is a valid choice, and I’m not knocking it! However, it does make the path less trodden, slightly lonelier, and with less previously promoted options to explore. I have loved using resources others have tried and tested, and this does seem a bit of a stride into the unknown. Just like we were supported by the early years home ed ring, I would much appreciate a secondary ed home ed blog ring. Hopefully by blogging, I might be a support to someone out there!

Home education isn’t all about the resources, it is also about companionship, socialising, activities. We still value those as much as before, developing the wider picture SB, giving her strong and happy roots to grow, spread and flower from. This mission statement may be concentrating on the delivery of the curriculum elements to home education, but the wider picture is always the first consideration.

After that introduction which has put an organisational frame around our home education to date, and a statement that we are now, finally, in the examination phase, we will review what we hope to facilitate this year. Facilitate, because with our predominantly heurisitc style, the completion of examination goals will be entirely SB’s to achieve. We hope that we have given her the skills and enthusiasm to proceed, and we will be there to buy books, troubleshoot, find examination centres, review work and where necessary [french] seek a tutors help. We plan to work on 4 potential igcse until christmas and then see where we are and whittle them down to 2 or 3 dependent on how things are going. Many home educators do concentrated GCSE in a year, rather than spread out. SB isn’t keen on this as she likes to have a spread of things to do, so we have come up with what we think will work – hopefully – as in overlap the two years so there is the option of knuckling down to just the few after easter, but having a spread through the year. Let us hope that this works! Good luck SB, and happy learning.

Potential [I]GCSE subjects

Initially in our ticksheet/timetable, we are hoping to do 3 x 1 hour on all our GCSE subjects, with the potential for an extra session if required weekly. Well, this is our allowance, we have more and less bookish weeks still, with some more outgoing. I am hoping that this will be ok for SB’s needs. After Christmas, when we have reduced the subject load, this will go up to 4. SB is not particularly a focussed learner, and so we bear in mind that good intentions are not equated with hours completed – she inherits this from both parents. It is not a criticism, just something to bear in mind.


This is the first subject subject we are considering as an IGCSE. SB has fluent spoken French from her en famille exchange, and needs to work on the written. She has a head start with the gcse currently, and the longer we leave things the more she will forget! We have galore park french and her french book from france, and also an igcse revision book. However, I am also trying to organise an exam centre, i had thought CIE, but it looks likely that we will need to do edexel instead. We hopefully have a tutor to help us and make sure SB is exam prepared well when we can confirm which board we can sit! i might also call on uncle mike to give her a ‘mock’ nearer the time, as I think he is suitably imposing :) SB French tutor is very positive about her spoken French, and she and a friend just think we need to knuckle down with verbs to stand a good chance of a B or above, which is nice to know.

Classical civilisation

This is a bit of a surprise entry to the examination ranks. As usual, our home education has a reactive component, able to readjust to new things that crop up. When a freind announced her daughter was thinking to do this with a tutor/course, I pointed SB at it, in case she was interested since we spent a long time about 4 years ago racing through greek myths and legends. She was very enthusiastic about going ahead, so we have corresponded with portals from the past about doing this as a course through them with her friend. Of course, this has a controlled assessment as well as an exam, and currently portals are working with an exam centre in Fareham. This is a long way away! She would be doing this OCR GCSE from scratch in a year, quite a big ask, so quite a bit of timetable put aside for it.


Somewhat surprisingly, [well to me anyway] SB has quietly got on well with geography whilst FrB has been here. She says she enjoyed the people geography, though wasn’t so keen on the landforms. Most of what she has left to do is the mapwork, and TBH, that is most fun done as fieldwork, so I think we will do some. I am not sure whether she has learnt it all, or whether her answers would be up to scratch, but she is 2/3 through the coursework, so this is a strong contender for an IGCSE in the summer. It is all exam, as there is an alternative to fieldwork in the CIE paper we would be doing. This website looks a useful resource. We are not utilising tutors.


This was a planned IGCSE for this year, though will now have to be a competitve entry for the role ;) . SB has worked through half the CIE course and enjoys biology and is quite keen to take this exam. Again, purely an examination, as there is an alternative to practical paper. We have done quite a few of the practicals, and plan to do more. Since SB keen, we have come up with a timetable for the next 2 months to see if this is practical. If not, it would be a contender for next year. i have found this website really useful for both practicals and self assessment. We are not utilising tutors.


Actually, maths could also be a contender for the GCSE/IGCSE this year. SB is half way through the conquer maths key stage 4 work, though I haven’t related that to any of the GCSE/IGCSE curriculae. However, we are waiting to hear what is happening about post 16 education, as there is some evidence that with the change of gcse, all children wishing to access post 16 education will need a gcse in maths and english, as these include a ‘functional element’ and an IGCSE might not count. The verdict should be out shortly, but we have no need of rapid decisions. We are not utilising tutors, but our friend B might give a quick mock/overview if she goes ahead to see this is OK.

Other subjects

Clearly, the amount of time spent on other subjects is going to be reduced. Most other things apart from music have a single weekly option. Since we don’t home school as such, we want SB to continue to have time that she can art, craft and dream and follow other desires.


This SB has raised as a high priority. currently she is working on her grade 6 music theory, either to be taken in the autumn or spring terms. The original plan was the autumn term, but there is quite a significant jump between grades 5 and  theory, and she is finding it challenging. We will plug on and make a decision as we approach the examination entry date. She also hasn’t done any practical exams for a while, having been in france etc. She currently has some grade 4 piano and clarinet pieces, and has had grade 4 recorder pieces for a while. She would like to do the clarinet and maybe recorder, so we will put the piano on a learn it and see thing. She is hoping to have a grade 6 theory and at least 1 instrument by summer 2017 as a gcse equivalent – it is slightly more I think in difficulty, but an achievable aim. She is pretty disappointed she cant do this one as a gcse, and if she did go into school for the final year, i would imagine this would be an option she would pick. I think with GCSE’s I want to leave the summer term entirely free of all else, so these will need to be autumn or spring projects. I think viola and lute, both she has fiddled about with, are really on the backburner unless she spontaneously gets them going! We will continue with holiday orchestra, as she enjoys that, and also with group music with friends on a wednesday. To help with the grade 6 theory, i think we need to do a bit more classical music appreciation and maybe go to a concert or 2.


SB plans to finish the galore park science book, and then start an IGCSE book in chemistry. I had thought she might concentrate on the biology, but she has loved the galore park and wants to finish. Neither of these are currently on her ticksheet for next year, so I had better remedy this. She really would like to start the physics too, but I don’t think she has time. SB continues to enjoy the fortnightly experiments with DH, which are predominantly chemistry based. She enjoys and understands science. The chemistry would be potentially and IGCSE for summer 2016. [and thinking of physics for 2017]


with so much theory, learning and examination type activities, we want SB to have some complete contrasts of creativity. She is hopefully going to finally write up her bronze arts award, and is then thinking of concentrating on something for the silver. Not that she needs a ‘stamp’ or recognition, but that she likes the thought of doing something in more depth. Having talked to people, she would really love to do the art gcse, which isn’t possible, but silver arts award is variably considered a possible equivalent. She has really enjoyed the glass art with a local home educator this year, and also pottery again – though unfortunately our local home educator potter is now in America! we have interested friends, so will just be experimental. I just think that encouraging creativity and a variety of media is a good outlet.


whilst French is at the top of the list, Italian and Latin will have only run-along places. In fact, I am not sure whether SB will end up carrying on with the Italian currently. Latin we will definately do, she learns it quite quickly and also it has value as a backbone for other languages and understanding the classical world [and she is doing the classical civ exam] . we won’t necessarily run ‘fast’ with it, more of a slow chugger. We are using the cambridge series [of course!] and it isn’t currently a planned GCSE at any point. If after the exams in the summer she would like to carry on with italian, and doesn’t plan to do a 3 month spanish en famille [which is a maybe maybe] then I would consider an italian tutor and do it properly.


We will keep on with galore park english, and with SB reading widely. Although I think from a maturity point of view that this will be one of the last GCSE taken, we need to keep on and practising. I am worried what the new gcse with a compulsary spoken and listening part will do for accessibility, so will keep my fingers crossed. at worst she will just have to do it at 6th form college, or go into school for that last gcse year. I am not going to worry about it currently.  I hope to focus a bit more on spelling this year, as well as how to use English well for exam purposes in other exams. Handwriting improved in france, and realistically, with all the writing as part of exam prep, we will not be concentrating on it other than to make sure it is legible!


Although we love history, and the great history project has been wonderful taking us to the civil war, I am not sure what time we have to devote to getting to the modern! SB is going to think about whether she slowly wants to continue the great history project [in which case BB will too] or to work through the galore park history. we will see. She will continue to read books set in different historical periods, and visit museums and places of interest, and I think we have a good historical backbone. This currently seems unlikely to be a GCSE subject unless SB chooses.

Non-curriculum areas


SB continues with Judo and ballet and she is working towards grade 6 ballet and has her green and black judo belt. She has completed the swimming lessons, and stopped gymnastics. She goes to the local home ed multisports fortnightly and the monthly roller skating as well. She is keen for DH to facilitate either snowboarding or skiing at a centre… Perhaps some skills courses rather than weekly sessions! She also wants to pick up golf again and consider lifeguard training or similar.


we will continue regular board game playing and strategising!


SB loves cooking and baking and continues to do this regularly. We are hoping to let her be ‘in charge’ of a meal on a weekly basis.


This remains important, we have a fortnightly meeting at our house, fortnightly local home ed teen meet, fortnightly conservation group, fornightly multisports, monthly rollerskating, botany and science experiments. We hope to meet and socialise, visit places together, do ‘interesting things’ and generally keep with her peer group and social circle. in the non home education field, she still attends guides and would like to start Air Corps. I think a drama group would suit her flair for the dramatic too. She has also brought up Duke of Edinburgh awards recently, though I am not sure this is the year to increase so many groups!

Retaining close family ties is important too, and seeing plenty of her cousins and grandparents as well as the wider family


with Frb here for 6 months, we really made a huge effort to reach and visit many places. We wont keep this frequency up, but adding trips and visits regularly is important to all of us to relate facts to real life.

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