Today my friend and I, and our 6 home educated children, were chatting to one of your co-workers in The Thrift Shop. He was telling us about the riding for the disabled programme, showing us pictures and explaining what goes on in the programme. The children, who had just spent a happy 45 minutes visiting the animals and purchasing dog treats in the pet food shop while walking a dog re-homed from your centre, had been nosing about your shop, which they regularly purchase from and support, and looking at what was for sale and finding out about some of the things in there.
Your colleague had asked why they girls were not in school and we had replied, politely as we always do, that they were home educated and when he asked what we were doing today, we said we had come out for a breath of fresh air, that all the children were animal mad and it was a good opportunity for some exercise, some social time and some fun. He didn’t seem to find that difficult to accept and indeed I think he said there was plenty to learn at a place like XXXXX.
Just as we were about to leave, you felt the need to butt in and very aggressively and officiously asked us what the children were learning at this moment. You followed this up by saying “Those children should be at home learning. I used to be a school secretary and I know” and shuffling your sheaf of papers in an outraged fashion.
Z, who less impatient that I am, repeated that there is plenty to learn at the centre but also that we were just getting out for a while. I was far more irritated by your uncalled for and inappropriate intervention in our day and I believe I said something along the lines of it being none of your business to comment on our private life and I certainly wasn’t going to explain myself to someone working in a shop. It is one thing to take an interest in a home educating family, plenty of people do. It is quite another to do it aggressively and in an accusatory fashion.
For the record, firstly, on the day the school system produces perfectly educated and able children, I shall worry about whether my children are engaged in meaningful activity every second of the day.
For a second, there is no requirement in law at all for home educators to keep school hours or school terms and not even the police are allowed to continue questioning a child once they have stated they are home educated.
For a third, if being at XXXXX cannot be considered an educational experience, why exactly did it recently charge us a reasonable amount per head to go on an educational tour of the facility? Do school trips never come and see you? And if so, do they never spend their pocket money in the shop?
Fourthly, I am my children’s parent, not you. You are no more entitled to make value judgements on us than you are on any other family. You are certainly not entitled to criticise my parenting or educational choices in front of them and you should be ashamed of yourself. I can’t imagine that would have been considered professional in the school you worked in to openly question and criticise parents.
Fifthly, if we have to put it into very basic terms, it was 12pm. Even in schools, children are permitted a lunch break.
Lastly, I won’t presume to make assumptions about you. Perhaps you spent your life as a school secretary because you gave your time passionately to bringing up your children and didn’t want a career. It may be you put a career on hold to care for a disabled child or work injured husband. It may be you believed utterly in the school system and wanted to better it.
Or it may be that a pass-remarkable state education left you fit for nothing but a jumped up admin job and the power went to your head a bit. Either way, let me assure you, being being a school secretary in no way fits you to make judgements about home education any more than being a home educator makes me fitted for typing, answering the phone all day and keeping the first aid cupboard up to date.
Now please – go boil your head. You lost XXXXX some loyal visitors and customers today.
(As a thank you to the two directors and managers who made such considerable effort to put this right today, I have removed identifying tags and names of the animal shelter.)