When MuddlePuddle and then PoP started, it was really mostly about Fran. She has always been the one to do things first and rightly or wrongly, I suppose I tended to focus on her. Things have gone on at her pace, often aimed for her interests and needs with everyone tagging along.
But all that is going to change. This is going to be one of the last times that I write publicly about her here, because as of October, she will cease to be home educated. When that happens, I may go back to occasional passworded posts about what she’s up to, but she’ll certainly fade out of the home ed element of the blog. She’s getting older anyway, it is no longer so easy to write about her here because, although it might not be obvious (!) I do respect her growing privacy.
It’s all happened so suddenly. She’s probably been the most fulfilled and happy and hard working at home ed that she’s ever been recently, but it’s true I’ve started to notice pieces of her needing more ‘being out and about’ stuff than I feel up to supplying these days. She’s always been one of the oldest in our home ed network, certainly locally, but that had altered slightly recently, with a couple of people of her age coming along. She’s a sociable girl, with a network of dancing and gym and old school friends that she chats to lots. She’s never complained about feeling isolated. When the opportunity happened to come along, one of her first responses was “but I’m happy being home educated.”
I do believe that opportunities come along for a reason. The letter offering a place came from the one senior school she liked the look of at Yr7 but she didn’t get a place because we live a long way from it. It’s an academy, one which runs very differently from most of the local senior schools. She and Max really liked what they saw of it two years ago and nothing else measured up. Only recently she’s been saying she didn’t see herself going to school now but a place, right at the beginning of their 3 year KS4/GCSE programme, just popped up and having all looked round again and spoken to the KS4 head, it just feels right.
She’s ready to stretch her wings. She’s read to test herself. Her abilities to write and use her brain and explore and contribute and try things out have just come along in leaps recently. She’s able, for the first time ever, to sit and concentrate, motivate herself over long periods of time, improve herself for her own ends and get on with things that are tough for her. I’ve been watching the changes with awe. Anything which worried me at Yr7 age, that her half formed home educated skills would be all out of step with school, no longer worries me at all.
She said yes while we were there; she didn’t want to consider it, it clearly felt like a challenge she wanted and she accepted the place on the spot. She can’t do History GCSE, because the option set is already full, so she’s building a set of options which will have some level of flexibility in them, some which build on current strengths and some which are more physical rather than academic – and the school will support her to do History with us and in study periods and allow her to take the exam there if she meets their expectations.
Thankfully, because I’ve been monitoring her maths and science abilities very closely recently, I’ve got a good idea of how able she is and comparing her to the schools levels, I can see she is going to be in the upper half of the ability range there. So hopefully she’ll find some things relatively easy and that will give her more time to concentrate on the things she’ll find harder which is going to be a language (French by the looks of things) and writing critically for things like English. It’s a toss up just now whether she can really join the French classes, it isn’t something we’ve focused on much. But a music GCSE and either a dance or drama certificate will hopefully allow her to put more time into those.
In terms of other things, it’s a place with masses of ‘enrichment’ activities. Almost everything she does is represented there; the drama and dance facilities are extra-ordinary, there is a busy performance schedule, loads of sport, things like Air Cadets which she wanted to try and trampoline and gymnastics. Given finances almost certainly means she’ll have to cut back, never mind time for homework, I think being able to access some of that there, in whatever form, will suit her well. She loves to be part of a community and she has a chance to get it there.
Of course, there are going to be downsides. My impression of the school is good, most of all I could hope for to be honest, but I suppose it only takes a few hideous kids or whatever for it to go wrong. I’m going to miss the flexibility, getting her there will be a pain and I will miss her at home, because as teens go, she’s so far been a joy to be around, but I can honestly say I think it will be great for her. She’s developing into a focused, motivated, determined and driven kid with a maturity to deal with difficulties and a mindset about relationships and difficulties that I’m in awe of.
I’m so proud of her. It’s the end of an era but it seems obvious now that this is what we were aiming for all along; a child who would become ready for this moment to come and grab it by the neck.