to think my DNiece is being neglected and my DBro should do something?

(198 Posts)
CrocsNSocks Fri 17-May-13 21:34:05

My brother has a DD with a woman he had a brief fling with 8 years ago. He has always seen her but irregularly for much of that time as he was struggling with alcoholism and not in a good place himself. He has been sober for the last 2 years and is now engaged and settled with a steady job. I'm posting because he, while he agrees that the situation with his DD is in his words 'not ideal' he feels there's nothing to be gained by any action and I want to canvas opinions to see if I should continue to try and persuade him otherwise!

So onto the details. My DBro was quite young (19) when he met the mother (who was the same age). She lived in a caravan on a nearby new age traveller site at the time, though moved into a flat with DBro when she fell pregnant. Their DD was born after they'd only been together a year and they split when she was 18 mo though things were rocky for most of that time and they didn't live together from when she was 6 mo.

Since then the mother has returned to living on traveller sites. DBro used to travel to wherever she was staying to see DNiece but since he stopped drinking and cut association with his old friends on that scene, she has been coming to stay with him for a week a few times a year instead and so the rest of the family have finally been able to get to know her over the last two years.

DNiece lives with her mother, her mother's partner, her 2 younger siblings, and various dogs in a bus. They are living without proper running water, just a tap in the corner of a field, and with no proper toilets (hole in the ground ones shock [vom] ) and no shower/bath facilities. She is usually filthy when she arrives for visits as she goes weeks without a proper bath though her hair is looked after really well, strangely hmm and I will say in her mother's favour that she never has nits.

She does not go to school. She can read and write and do basic sums but that's because she is a bright child, not because anyone has bothered to teach her. She is quite vocal in her opinion (I say her opinion, it'll be her mothers opinion but you know what I mean!) that school is a waste of time and her mother has apparently always said that no child of hers will go to school. Fair enough. But then she needs educating, not just running wild with a pack of children day in day out with the excuse that "she is learning what she needs to know" hmm

She has no bedtime at home (the children apparently get told to come in when it gets dark), gets taken to weekend long parties frequently, her mother/mother's partner/their friends smoke weed in front of the children (according to DBro who used to see this when he visited). She really seems to love and relish the basic care she gets when visiting - bathing, hair drying, wrapping up in a towel, painting nails with my DD, choosing new socks and knickers, that sort of thing - and also the routine of 'normal life'.

DNiece is a lovely child, she has good manners and is very bright and articulate. I don't think she is being abused by any stretch, but I do think she is subject to persistent low level neglect and think my DBro should grow a backbone and talk to his ex about educating her properly, washing her, and at the very least finding somewhere to park the bus that has showers and toilets fgs. DBro thinks this would be out of order, he says he let her down and now has no right to tell her mother what to do, he also tells me that their lifestyle is different and that unless his DD is in danger he isn't going to wade in like that. I think he is being a spineless twit and it is never too late to stand up for his own child....

I think you're on very dodgy ground here. If she's bright, articulate, and knows that she's loved that's all great. The mother could up sticks and vanish if she feels like it, thus severing any contact dc has with her father. Him being around and available to his daughter, and getting on with her mother is far more likely to be of benefit than him having acrimonious relations with the mother will be. If his dd has access to her dad she can exercise her choice about her life. I have a grown up friend whose mother lived in a bus and didn't send her or siblings to school. The kids made their own choices about it, and when she was 16 she went to live with her lovely gran and is an extremely successful and normal human thesedays. Tearing a child from her mum, or even criticising the mother can be more damaging in the long run. Providing sanctuary and a line of stable contact is far better imo

barbie007 Fri 17-May-13 21:53:26

It's probably difficult for your brother to do anything about it. But I agree with you. It sounds like she's a bright , confident child but she should get some sort of education

quoteunquote Fri 17-May-13 22:00:57

and at the very least finding somewhere to park the bus that has showers and toilets fgs

You do not know what you are talking about. and if you make a fuss, the bus will move a long way away.

So you don't like the life that your niece lives, have you ever tried to find out more about it? Have spoken to the traveller liaison officer? How many legal sites are in the area?

compost loo? well it won't kill you.

Traveller education might support, but I expect the funding is cut.

Don't judge other people lifestyles until you are perfectly sure you have all the answers yourself.

to be honest I would ask MNHQ to pull your post, because it would take me , one posting of it on FB and someone would know exactly who you are talking about.

and if anyone in the very small community see this, they will mention it to the child's mother.

why not just enjoy her company when you see her, and don't make her feel uncomfortable by mentioning discrepancies in lifestyles.

FJL203 Fri 17-May-13 22:05:15

Unless she's "under the radar" and the local LA don't know she exists the child's mother will have needed to prove to them that she's being educated. And, with HE, "education" can mean many things, it doesn't have to revolve around traditional learning or a curriculum. In respect to that I think you've answered your own queries - "DNiece is a lovely child, she has good manners and is very bright and articulate.". Verbal learning is as important as written education at this age. In fact, many HE-ers believe that it's more so.

The only thing I'd be throwing a fit at is the weed smoking. The bedtime - hell, she doesn't need it, she doesn't have to conform to a school timetable so if her mother's happy to have her up and she's getting enough sleep what's the big deal? Likewise the living arrangements - they may not be to your taste or mine but that's not necessarily neglect, there are plenty of kids out there living a traveller lifestyle.

It's very dodgy ground. If you or DB are concerned you'd do better helping than commenting, which may be perceived as interfering, imho. How about supplementing the lass's education with a trip to the zoo, for example - something where she'll learn without even realising it?

Tooearlyintheday Fri 17-May-13 22:08:33

To be honest I don't understand how an expectation of a child's level of care can vary so wildly. I mean if non travelling children were not attending school, were frequently filthy, were wandering the streets til all hours and were witness to adults taking drugs then surely it would be a straightforward contact social services answer?

musicposy Fri 17-May-13 22:12:28

I think her lifestyle is just different tbh.
We're in the home ed community and know lots of children like this. Many, many, cannot read write or do basic sums at all at 8, so she's ahead of the game. DD2's friends were all like this and I was a little smug that she was so much further ahead than them academically blush.

Fast forward and they are all 13 now or thereabouts. They can all miraculously read, write and spell better than DD2 who was so able in school for years. I wonder why I wasted DD2's time with all the formal education. Her friends all had endless fun and yet are easily as ahead as her. It sounds like a great life to me. We're used to education looking a certain way because we're so indoctrinated into the school system, but it's not the only way by far, and I would argue possibly not the most efficient either.

I'd be concerned about the weed smoking in front of the DCs, but that is all.

Finola1step Fri 17-May-13 22:12:42

I can understand your concern but you may be putting your brother in a very difficult position. The details you give in your OP would be enough to identify your niece and her family within the very small community in which they live (small in number rather than geography IYSWIM).

Tooearly sadly there are inner city areas where this type of thing does go on. Ss are not able to help a lot of these kids. Even if the parents are weed smoking with the kids. I am speaking from personal knowledge here (not my kids to be clear!)

She doesn't sound neglected, to be honest. It's certainly not the 'norm', but it sounds like a pretty good childhood to me- I bet there's a lot of kids growing up in antiseptic, boring 'perfect' homes that would relish a bit of dirt and freedom to be honest. And while I disagree with smoking pot in front of kids, there are worse things for a child to witness in life.

You sound really judgemental to me. Sorry.

FJL203 Fri 17-May-13 22:15:55

You'd contact SS because a child was receiving a "free range" home education, Tooearly?

Tooearlyintheday Fri 17-May-13 22:18:19

No I'd contact them if a child wasn't have his or her basic hygiene needs met, was roaming the streets unsupervised, was watching their parents taking drugs and wasn't receiving any kind of education. Is that not what we're supposed to do?

Oh, and I agree with musicposy. I know of a wee boy from a similar background who started at school full time at around 10 and within a year had helped a small team from his rural school win a major UK competition in design/engineering.

Slambang Fri 17-May-13 22:23:14

I don't think from what you've said she's being neglected. Dirt doesn't necessarily mean neglect unless her health is at risk. Is she well fed? Does she have games and toys? Does she feel loved and wanted?, You say she's learnt to read but noone's taught her. Really? People tend not to learn to read unless somebody spends a bit of time showing them how but many people do home educate in unorthodox ways.

She sounds bright, happy and well adjusted to me.What effect would your brother have if he comes in heavy handed? (If he starts making noises about neglect he's very likely to alienate her mum and not to see his dd again. I doubt very much that SS would be interested.)

quesadilla Fri 17-May-13 22:24:22

I'm on the fence about this. I think depriving a child of a formal education - unless there are mitigating circumstances like home schooling for SEN - in this country does come pretty close to neglect actually. It's the mother imposing a minority worldview which has the potential to massively disadvantage a child on the child who is going to grow up in a world where not having an education essentially condemns you to poverty. It may stop short of neglect but its bloody selfish.

On the other hand you do run a major risk that the mother will just do one if you or your brother report her.

The other problem, I suppose, is that the kid is so indoctrinated she probably thinks she doesn't want to go to school without ever having been given a chance to make up her own mind.

No answers, I'm afraid.

stargirl1701 Fri 17-May-13 22:26:36

It's not how I would choose to raise my child but it doesn't seem neglectful to me. She is loved, happy and learning. It just doesn't conform to the modern norm. 100 years ago, most children would've been like this.

FJL203 Fri 17-May-13 22:26:37

Tooearly, there's nothing to tell me in this OP that the child is not receiving any education. All the OP has told me is that the child is not receiving a school education. Good manners, bright, articulate does not suggest lacking an education and in terms of HE this situation suggests a child led, verbally-based education where written learning can come later.

AnnaFiveTowns Fri 17-May-13 22:28:10

If she's 8 and can read, write and do sums then somebody clearly is educating her. I'll bet she's getting a better, more rounded education than most kids in "normal" schools. What's "normal" anyway? Drilling kids for SATs at age 7 and switching most of them off learning for life.

As a previous poster said, my only concern would be the smoking pot thing. But then, is it really any worse than parents drinking alcohol in front of kids?

Really don' t think SS would have any concerns based on what you've said. What's important is the quality of the relationship beween the parent and child. Most of the other stuff (not showering every day etc) is superficial. It's all personal opinion. I, personally, don't like to see parents painting little girls' nails. I find that more distasteful than seeing a grubby kid. But that's me.

Tooearlyintheday Fri 17-May-13 22:31:19

And I have no issue with that FJL, if that's what is happening, I know Home Eders who do similar but the combination of that with the child being filthy, unsupervised at age 7 while out until sunset and witnessing her parents taking drugs would warrant a call to SS in my mind.

honeytea Fri 17-May-13 22:33:37

I think yabu, have you visited the bus? I lived in a caravan (an old gypsy one with a horse to pull it) when I was a child and it was fine.

Your db's ex sounds like she has very different priorities to yours, You saying that painting nails is "basic care" worries me, I think I would prefere to have no bedtime and limited access to a shower than have a parent who thinks that the basic care of a 8 year old girl involves painting their nails.

Does your db give his dd's mother regular payments?

Smoking pot isn't really that shocking to me, I don't think that smoking around children is great but I don't see much difference between smoking pot and having a fag and glass of wine around kids. I was around casual drug taking as a child but choose not to take drugs myself.

5madthings Fri 17-May-13 22:34:15

I think your brother is actually being very wise, he knows HE screwed up and let his daughter down. He now has a good relationship with her and he accepts his daughters mother is raising her in a different lifestyle, not abusive or neglectful but different.

He is right to not do anything especially if it may jeopordise the good relationship he has with his daughter.

Is he supporting her financially?

FJL203 Fri 17-May-13 22:35:02

Agreed, Anna. "Normal" to me isn't putting your child in with a single adult and up to 30 people of his or her age. Real life isn't like that. You don't go to work and find yourself in an office where the workers are all deliberately chosen because they were born within a single 12 month period.

The pot smoking is just plain wrong, in front of the child or otherwise. The rest of it? She sounds like a happy child to me. I'm sure she does enjoy going to the OP's house and doing things which she doesn't normally do, just as my children enjoyed living rough in a caravan for a week or two, getting filthy, climbing trees, mixing with different people - we all enjoy a break, it doesn't mean that we abhor the day to day.

gordyslovesheep Fri 17-May-13 22:44:22

I am not sure she is being neglected from your description OP - is the child fed, clothed, warm, has a place to sleep, has loving parents, is not being physically or sexually abused, is being given an education...

Being mucky can;t be nice but do they strip wash etc - most travellers I knew did

Cloverer Fri 17-May-13 22:44:30

I think she sounds ok too.

Being dirty so long as she is healthy and appropriately dressed for the weather isn't the worst thing ever. If she was infested with nits and scabies it would be a different matter.

Playing out til it's dark and going to bed when she's tired is also not the end of the world.

Weed smoking - again, less than ideal. But unlikely to be hugely damaging imo.

If she can read, write and do some maths, then someone is educating her. When she is older she can catch up herself if she wants to. Lots of children leave the school system barely literate.

It's great that she enjoys the change of pace with her dad, and can see what the lifestyle alternate is. I think he is being sensible.

Nimthenamechanger Fri 17-May-13 22:58:36

YABVU. You should 100% keep out of this. Your DB sounds like he has got a good relationship with his ex and DD, which is not worth jeopardising because they don't live according to your norms. I don't think it's possible that she has learnt to read and do basic maths with no teaching input. If you are concerned about her education, can you foster a love of books? Maybe look at the kids bestsellers charts and pick things out for her.
The only thing I'd take issue with is the drug use, but they aren't exactly shooting up in front of her, are they? Plenty of middle-class parents get far more sloshed than is wise at your average barbecue, but nobody suggests telling SS.
Perhaps your DB could mention that he would rather she didn't see that in future?
I would honestly just keep enjoying her visits and don't worry any more about this. She sounds like a great kid, well loved and happy and I think it would be wrong to interfere.

IneedAsockamnesty Fri 17-May-13 23:04:39

Horrible thread.

You need to back off and leave your brother alone he's quite obviously not as bigoted as you.

The only thing at all in your post that makes me go hmm is the pot thing but apparently I'm a bit weird about that.

There is no legal requirement to send your child to school only to provide them with an education that education does not have to be formal. Every adult I know ( and its lots inc family members) who was home educated as a child is now a HRT and they recived a better education, by far a better education than the one that would have been provided by the state.

But let me guess because she's a traveller she couldn't possibly do it 'right'

Your entire op just screams racism

Cloverer Fri 17-May-13 23:07:29

I don't think new age travellers are a race grin

Fairyegg Fri 17-May-13 23:10:00

Sounds like a great lifestyle to me. Def keep out of it. Yes your dn probably enjoys the change when she comes and sees db, in the same way that most people enjoy staying in a hotel on hoilday. That's not to say she would want to live your lifestyle everyday. I agree on asking to get this thread pulled. I think you could potentially be making a lot of hassle for your db here if this is recognised, which from your post is easy.

OhLori Fri 17-May-13 23:12:55

Well, he has some rights. I think he needs to have a grown up conversation with the mother (and maybe a lawyer on the side whilst he's at it.)

If the mother is poor and a traveller, she may actually welcome a positive input re. education and money for her daughter. There is a secondary question of whether your brother is able to provide this? Or can you liaise/be involved in some way with your niece's future, in a positive way?

chipmonkey Fri 17-May-13 23:12:57

I think your DB is right; He really doesn't have a leg to stand on because he was absent for most of his dd's life and is hardly now in a good position to criticise.
To me, the lifestyle sounds like something the majority wouldn't choose but most of it, the tap in the corner of the field, the compost toilet, doesn't actually sound neglectful, if not to everyone's standards!

And I doubt if even a bright child could learn to read and write and do basic sums with no input at all from her parents.

The weed-smoking, no that's not good and if it were my niece I wouldn't be happy. But in the grand scheme of things, I think it is probably better to let that go, otherwise you and your dbro could end up with no relationship with your niece at all.

IneedAsockamnesty Fri 17-May-13 23:13:33

Travellers are protected under the same legislation as other minority groups and have been for a few years

I think sockreturning is thinking of Travellers, like Irish/Scottish travelling folk or Romany Gypsies. Which would be racist, rather than bigoted I guess.

OhLori Fri 17-May-13 23:14:36

And you have to kind of put it to your brother, to man-up on this. Is that a possibility? If its done in a sensitive and supportive way, perhaps your niece's maternal family may welcome it, who knows.

Cloverer Fri 17-May-13 23:16:56

Sock, new age travellers are hippies/drop-outs/alternative types, not an ethnic group.

OhLori Fri 17-May-13 23:17:06

The rest of my text went missing, grr. But what I said was perhaps it could be welcome for the maternal family to get some input from him, you can but try? Regardless, as you say, yeah, he needs to grow a backbone and yeah, its never too late.

I personally see nothing wrong in the way the niece is brought up.

I wish I could have brought my own children up in a similar fashion. They learn a lot from not getting any formal education so young.

MammaTJ Fri 17-May-13 23:22:30

I think I would feel the same as you OP, if it were my neice. However, you do need to but out (which I am sure you have) and keep your opinions to yourself. They are not helpful.

Continue to be a loving and supportive Auntie and when she rebels against what she has been brought up in (which she surely will) be there to teach her the rebelious way (normal).

Have to say, am pleasantly surprised by the general mood on this. <thumbs up>

Hope you manage to find a way of everyone getting along and continuing to enjoy your weekends with your niece, OP. At least everyone has her best interests at heart- she sounds a lovely kid.

* On this thread.

quoteunquote Fri 17-May-13 23:25:03

Sock, new age travellers are hippies/drop-outs/alternative types

That is quite insulting to a lot of travellers, and a very weird simplification.

I wonder why the OP has not been back.

IneedAsockamnesty Fri 17-May-13 23:31:47

And the op has just assumed the new age bit.

Cloverer Fri 17-May-13 23:32:56

How is that insulting? Certainly fits my experience of new age travellers - not many straight-laced conformists live in buses.

Cloverer Fri 17-May-13 23:34:01

Presumably the OP/her brother have met the mother and her partner, so why would it be an assumption?

CrabbyBigbottom Fri 17-May-13 23:38:19

An ignorant and narrow minded OP, but lots of cheeringly common sense replies.

OP you need to butt the hell out with your ill-informed judgements, otherwise you will alienate the mother and jeopardise the bridges that your brother is trying to build.

Bobyan Fri 17-May-13 23:41:42

Just out of interest, how many people on this thread would be happy for their child to live like the OP's niece?

I'm not sure I would...

Cloverer Fri 17-May-13 23:43:59

I wouldn't choose it for my child, but then there are lots of acceptable lifestyles I wouldn't choose for my child either.

gordyslovesheep Fri 17-May-13 23:45:23

I wouldn't choose it for myself - so I wouldn't for my kids - doesn't mean it's wrong

FJL203 Fri 17-May-13 23:47:09

I'd have no problem with it - in fact, I've done parts of it, either when I was a child or with/for my own children, Bobyan, including the having no bath or running hot water. The only thing I wouldn't tolerate is the dope smoking.

5madthings Fri 17-May-13 23:51:22

I couldn't cope with the no running water so no hot shower thing, I struggle with camping be cause of that, but that is due to medical needs related to skin condition. My children would be fine.

The no school doesn't bother me as I home educated for a number of years.

Dope smoking not great, but we just have the brothers word that this used to happen when he visited.

The op says she is a lovely girl, polite, bright and articulate, that doesn't sound like a neglected child.

Gubbins Sat 18-May-13 00:06:53

I'd be happy with my children living that lifestyle. I don't see that a lack of baths is neglectful, and would view the pot smoking as on a par with people who drink in front of their kids. There's no way on earth I'd have the patience to Home Ed, but I admire people who do. I had a lot of (new age) traveller friends when I was younger, several of whom had children, and I think it's a fantastic way of life for a child.

But the fact that the OP describes a two and a half year relationship as a 'brief fling' indicates to me that she's never been a great fan of her neice's mother, even when she was living a more 'traditional' lyfestyle with the OP's brother.

Goldmandra Sat 18-May-13 00:10:45

Her hair is clean.

She has not chronic health conditions or signs of physical neglect.

All of her physical and emotional needs are being met.

She is receiving an education and appropriate social interaction.

She is confident and resilient enough to step into a different culture and find it a positive experience.

You mention no record of health or social care child protection concerns being raised about her.

She has good manners and is bright and articulate.

Her life is very different from that of my children but I see nothing in your post that causes me concern. I wouldn't allow anyone to smoke weed in front of my children but there seems to be no evidence that she is being put at risk and you don't know that all the adults are smoking together. Perhaps they take it in turns to abstain in order to keep the children safe.

She sounds happy and loved and like she is developing normally. I don't think she needs anyone to intervene on her behalf.

OhLori Sat 18-May-13 00:13:46

Well I sort of beg to disagree. Neglect can be a strong word/feeling, even if we can't quite explain it.

Either way, OP's brother could really play a positive part here. If he is not in a good place himself, then that may not be possible/desirable, but I think its nice of OP to care.

quesadilla Sat 18-May-13 07:42:01

Hold on a minute: everyone is bring very complementary about "home education" but lets be honest, this isn't a structured program of schooling, the mum has said "she will learn what she needs to learn" or whatever.
In other words she will learn skills appropriate to that life but precious little else. The mum, by the sound of it, is giving her an absolutely minimal education. Yes, she sounds bright and may be able up read and write and if she is basically happy with the traveller lifestyle will be fine, but if she decides she wants to re-enter mainstream society later her mum has made it infinitely harder for her to do this.
How many of you would honestly be able to do this for your kids?

AmberSocks Sat 18-May-13 08:30:06

the only thing i dont like the sound of from the op is the smoking round the kids,apart from that i dont see what the problem is.

AmberSocks Sat 18-May-13 08:30:59

Also to the person who said about the LA,you ar eincorrect,if shes never been to school then she wont be in touch with the lamost likely,and even if they have theres no legal reason for contact.

CrocsNSocks Sat 18-May-13 09:39:07

Okay I am now back. Apologies for posting and running, I have a child with suspected measles who woke up hoooooowwwwling.

DNiece is certainly loved, that's not in question at all. Her mother, whilst I don't get on with her (yes, we've met, I was polite but she made it pretty clear she disliked me) clearly adores her and she seems to have a good relationship with the step dad (for want of a better word).

And I hold my hands up and admit to being utterly ignorant about their lifestyle choice - mea culpa. How do I educate myself better then? I am not likely to be welcome where DNiece lives and it is too far for me to visit anyway really. And just to clear up - they are not Travellers as in BFGW, they are what used to be called new age travellers though I never hear that used anymore, I just don't know a better way to describe them!

I just feel like this wouldn't be acceptable in any other situation - a child on my street being cared for like that would be cause for concern I think hmm

Oh and yes DBro sends money regularly now he is working, and does zoo/museum visits etc when she is here and always sends her home with a parcel of new books. He just seems so resigned to the idea that he has no say in how his DD lives and is cared for sad

juneau Sat 18-May-13 09:48:30

Some of the replies on this thread are so eager to be 'right on' and non-judgemental that they're utterly absurd. Yes, this child is loved and cared for, but I have every sympathy with the OP's position. I'd be worried if my niece or nephew was receiving no proper education and growing up in a muddy field too. The fact that this child seems to relish 'normal life' seems to indicate that she's not wholly happy with the hippie lifestyle her mother chooses to live and as for smoking dope in front of kids - do you all really think that's okay? Really????

As for this little girl being 'home-educated', the OP says she's not being educated at all - that's rather different. Her mother is preparing her for life as a hippie living in a bus in a muddy field, which isn't exactly giving her choices. HE may be more flexible than standard school, but I suspect it doesn't include staying up all night and watching adults get stoned. OP, I'm not sure what you can or should do, but I understand your concerns.

Dawndonna Sat 18-May-13 09:50:42

Is he resigned, or is he patiently waiting until his dd makes her own decision about lifestyle choices. Sounds to me, by not pressuring but by demonstrating an alternative lifestyle to the one she has, as soon as she is capable she'll make her own decisions.

LIZS Sat 18-May-13 09:55:54

I think you are making a lot of assumptions about the lifestyle and what your niece is being exposed to . There will be a Travellers' Liaison officer at the council, it may be that a local Children's Centre covers the site (some send staff onto the site in a mobile unit to offer services such as learning through play sessions, hv/parenting support, benefits advice etc). Priorities may differ but that doesn't make you right and them wrong.

IneedAsockamnesty Sat 18-May-13 09:58:06

Home education does not have to be structured many people who home educate believe a none structured approach works better.

I personally wouldn't home educate my children because in my situation it would be isolating and my own limitations would make it difficult but if I didn't have those concerns I would go for a unstructured approach.

My sister was educated like that she's now a barrister and very much living and working in mainstream society.

AmberLeaf Sat 18-May-13 10:05:18

YABU and I think your brother is right.

But then I would quite like to live that way anyway so I cant get my judgy pants hoiked.

IneedAsockamnesty Sat 18-May-13 10:05:40


The child can read and write well she is bright articulate has good social skills and can do basic maths, she's also only 7 or 8.

There is not a chance that someone has not taught her these skills this knowledge does not just happen by magic fair enough it may be done in such a way that the child herself has no idea she's being taught but being taught she is.

maddening Sat 18-May-13 10:19:47

She must be receiving some home education if she can read and do maths - she must have been taught this - I doubt anyone accidentally learns maths no matter how bright they are.

Your dbro could support the decision to home school by supplying learning supplies and aids possibly - that might be acceptable from the mother's pov. He can certainly enquire about the education his daughter is receiving in order to see where he can support her more.

Lonecatwithkitten Sat 18-May-13 10:24:32

I suspect this all falls under a category my Dad has as a family court magistrate with 25 years worth of experience of "it's not what we would do, but that doesn't mean it's wrong". Yes it is outside the vast majorities norm, but she is happy loved and developing normally.
Smoking weed might just be an area of concern, but probably not significant enough.

5madthings Sat 18-May-13 10:27:25

What socking said.

Also yes she enjoys spending time with her father and getting new stuff and going to museums etc what kid doesnt?!! Her enjoying the time with her father and the things they do together has no baring on if she is happy with her life. You cannot extrapolate that a 7/8yr okd enjoys the more 'conventional'lifestyle when she visits her dad...therefore she doesnt like/isnt happy with the lifestyle she has the majority of the time.

And the reality is that the ops brother has not had massive involvement for the majority of this childs life, so he sees her a few weeks a year now and is now providing financially and buying books etc thats nice and lovely but he is right to say he has no right to tell her mother what to do.

The rights that are important are the childs, she needs love and security and a relationship with both parents. Your brother is now stepping up and trying to have a good relationship with his daughter. Do the right thing and support him in that.

And as for the girls education, for 7/8yrs old she sounds like she is doing fine and is obviously parented if she is polite etc. The reality is the op and her brother are not there the majority of the time so.they dont know what happens day in, day out, the child is quite clearly learning. It may not be conventional or what others would choose but it is what this mother has chosen as she has every right to do and it is what the girl is used to and seems to be working for them as a family.

CalamityKate Sat 18-May-13 10:33:37

Of course it isn't right. If it were a child living in a house you'd get very different responses but because its travellers its different and you'll be lectured about how nobody really NEEDS baths and that a child wandering about at all hours isn't being neglected but given the gift of a lovely carefree childhood hmm

juneau Sat 18-May-13 10:35:12

I'm well aware that learning to read and write means someone is teaching her those things - I have a 5-year-old myself. But the mother is deciding what she needs to know education-wise, based on her own life choices (living as a hippie in a bus and smoking weed). This is not giving her daughter the kind of choices every child should have or preparing her for any kind of life other than the one she currently lives.

zzzzz Sat 18-May-13 10:35:51

YABVU she sounds lovely. Most of our grandparents were brought up with long drop loos and survived. Dirt washes off and her hair sound in better nick than most of dd's class at prep school. Back off and stop judging.

IneedAsockamnesty Sat 18-May-13 10:50:38

4 times a year 2 of my kids bugger off with a relative they spend these weeks dressed up as Vikings and living as Vikings or reenacting weird battles.

It doesn't mean they don't like coming home and living their normal life.

Why would it be hard to accept the same thing if the lifestyles were the other way round.

FJL203 Sat 18-May-13 10:52:17

quasadilla - "Hold on a minute: everyone is bring very complementary about "home education" but lets be honest, this isn't a structured program of schooling... How many of you would honestly be able to do this for your kids?"

HE doesn't need to be structured for goodness sakes! And would I be able to do this for my kids? Yes.

Amberleaf, I understand what you're saying but if the DN has never been to school she still might be on the LA's radar if, for example, the mum has contacted them for advice or someone else has (do-gooder HV/social worker, interfering friend, relative or neighbour etc who thinks it's "not right" that the child is experiencing an autonomous, holistic, non structured HE). If that's the case the mother would almost certainly have decided to satisfy the LA that the child was receiving a suitable education, not because there's a legal requirement because there isn't but because of the legal precedent (Phillips vs Brown 1980) which makes it very clear that it's in the parent's interest to offer some form of reassurance to the LA. This is something about which LAs make a big issue and use very much to their advantage. You're right in that doesn't mean they have a right to contact with the child - this can come through, for example, a statement of philosophy.

IneedAsockamnesty Sat 18-May-13 10:53:17


That what every parent gets to decide they choose either to home ed and do it there way or school ed and do it the way the gov says schools have to.

All home educators decide what they teach and how they do it.

Tooearlyintheday Sat 18-May-13 11:02:00

Why is everybody focusing on the child's educational needs and ignoring the fact that the child is filthy, unsupervised and witnessing drug use? The fact that the child sees clean underwater as a novelty is very worrying to me. I know a few travellers and have never noticed their children being particularly dirty or unkempt, at least no more so than non-travelling children at the end of a busy day. How is the child's oral hygiene OP?

Wuldric Sat 18-May-13 11:03:13

I agree with quesadilla but there is nothing to be done about it.

It isn't fair to deprive a child of a massive range of opportunities through educational deprivation. That child cannot hope to be a doctor, a lawyer, an academic ... anything that requires a range of qualifications is closed to her. Massively unfair. But as I say, nothing can or will be done about it. Parents have the right to handicap their children and some do.

FJL203 Sat 18-May-13 11:06:48

juneau, I can only speak for myself and not the other posters who are not getting their knickers in a twist about this but I can tell you here and now I'm probably the least "right on" person you might encounter.

Calamity - this won't make me popular - overall I don't like travellers. Or at least certain sectors of them. I'm not inclined to go around being pleasantly disposed towards them or fighting their corner because of what they are or to fly some sort of PC flag. I'm supporting this particular mother's decisions because I or my children have experienced similar to some of her child's experiences without ill effect and sometimes with enormous benefit.

Crocs, you say, "
He just seems so resigned to the idea that he has no say in how his DD lives and is cared for".

That's just as well as the parent with care is the one who is responsible for day to day decision making, not the absent parent. What time the child goes to bed, whether she has a strip down wash in a tin bath with water heated on the stove or a shower in a 5 star bathroom is not under his control.

He can challenge the HE but it would cost him a fortune and be met, I suspect and if the mother has any fire in her belly, with a huge amount of opposition, both with regard to what she considers the better education for her child and with regard to the principle, i.e. that the father has played a limited part in her child's life due to his drinking and now he wants to tell her how to raise her child.

It would imho be a foolish man to attempt to fight this one.

cyclingtreadworn Sat 18-May-13 11:08:35

What Juneau said.
This thread is full of the usual MNers literally tripping over themselves to show how liberal they are.
Sorry, but I think this is low level neglect too. The child is dirty. She has no access to baths or showers or running water. Would you like to live like that, or for your child to? Body lice, worms, gastro bugs.....its really not that hard as a parent to keep your child clean, and this plus the fact she smokes carcinogenic drugs in front of her child and does not ensure she goes to bed at a reasonable hour suggest she simply cannot be bothered.
She is seriously disadvantaging her child by not sending her to school. What happens if the op's niece decides she wants to he a doctor or lawyer or nurse and wants to go to uni? She will struggle, as her mother has denied her the privelige of a formal education.
So step out your silly airy fairy right on bubbles and recognize that of course the ops concerns are grounded. Sadly op I doubt there is much you can do, if you report her she will just scarper. But what a shame, poor little girl.

5madthings Sat 18-May-13 11:10:23

It doesnt say she is unsupervised, it says she has no set bedtime and the chikdren have to come in when it gets dark. During the summer holidays my kids play out in the evening and come in when its dark. Thats not neglectful.

Again she doesnt see clean underwear as a novelty, she enjoyed getting new underwear bought... My ds3 recently got new pants and was massively excited to get moshi monster ones, he is 8.

People are reading what they want to read it seems...

juule Sat 18-May-13 11:10:25

Wuldric" That child cannot hope to be a doctor, a lawyer, an academic ... anything that requires a range of qualifications is closed to her."

A child of 8 isn't going to be taking those sort of qualifications at this point. And it doesn't sound as though this 8yo is behind with anything.

cyclingtreadworn Sat 18-May-13 11:12:07

Well juule if her mother doesn't send her to school or properly HE her she isn't going to get any qualifications.

IneedAsockamnesty Sat 18-May-13 11:13:10


What a load of rubbish.

My sister was educated like this child she is now a barrister, my brother was also educated in the same way he is now a plastics consultant.

Tooearly people are focusing on that aspect because the op has stated the child is receiving no education that is clearly not the case. The child can't be that filthy if her hair is well cared for and if her teeth were bad the op would have already said because it would have given her complaints some validity.

And I'm pretty sure nobody has said the smoking pot thing is ok but plenty of naice beige wearing people do it all the time with out having a massive drama being made of it. I personally wouldn't and can't get my head around people who do but from a professional perspective its not given much serious consideration at all the police don't even arrest for it unless you have lots or are selling it.

bigkidsdidit Sat 18-May-13 11:13:56

I agree with Juneau. If they lived in a house, had no bedtime, drug use in front of the children, no running water, no schooling; that would be seen very differently.

musicposy Sat 18-May-13 11:21:24

Wuldric I know many people who had the type of childhood the OP describes and have gone on to top universtites and illusrious careers. DD1 was out of school for years doing much as she pleased. She went onnto do GCCEs at home, doing exceptionally well, and is now taking A levels at college. We know many others who have gone on to OU courses at home after years of the kind of life the OP describes, and then been accepted by top unis.
People here think school and sitting down at a desk from age 4 is the only way. It isn't. The child is clearly adored. The rest are incidentals.

cyclingtreadworn Sat 18-May-13 11:21:41

Yes its because they are travellers and embrace an alternative lifestyle that people are trying to show how cool with it they are, most of them would be spitting their cornflakes across their naice kitchens though if you suggested letting little Lucy or Harry run wild, dirty and largely uneducated with few boundaries.

A child psychologist friend once told me, children actually really like the security of routine and boundaries, its silly adults like the nieces mother who get off on the whole, look at the carefree, unfettered existence my child has, thing.

CecilyP Sat 18-May-13 11:22:22

Don't be silly. Our ancestors lived for thousands of years without baths, showers and flush toilets (as millions of people do today throughout the world). And OP has made no mention of body lice, worms or gastro bugs. No, I wouldn't like to live like that because I like my home comforts; but it is not neglect. So the child plays out late, which many children in my street do, which can be very late in up here in the summer. There is no reason to assume she is running wild (with all that that implies) she is simply playing out with other children.
HE can be a bit random, but the child can already read and do sums, so someone is teaching her, so she is likely to progress in future.

If the OP doesn't like it there is nothing she can do, except what she is currently doing which is welcoming this polite well-behaved child into her home during the visits to her dad. Her brother is doing the right thing in maintaining a good relationship with his DD's mother and having DD to visit as often as he can.

waterrat Sat 18-May-13 11:22:44

OP, I think you need to pick apart a few of the things you are concerned about - look at the ones which genuinely matter and which are just a matter of disagreement over parenting style. Also also try to focus properly on the positive way in which your neice's mother is bringing her up.

Having no bedtime is not neglect - being allowed to play out until late in the evening is generally something that is a matter of individual parenting - I know middle class parents who are not bothered by bedtime. If the child is happy, articulate and 'clean' ie. not got nits/ bugs etc then she is well looked after. As others say, being loved and cared for is what matters.

Why not focus on step by step building a better relationship with the mother? Have you really tried? What about contacting her and saying you would like to put the past behind you and get to know her - but do it totally judgement free. Decide that for a year you will put your concerns aside and try to get to know her better. Do it for your niece.

quesadilla Sat 18-May-13 11:25:23

FJL203 Structured or unstructured, it's semantics really. I don't really care whether an education has a formal structure but the bottom line is that this child is getting a very narrow education which doesn't prepare her for anything other than living on site, and by the sound of what the OP says she is bright and therefore there's every chance her horizons may be broader than this. If, as an adult, she decides she wants to live like this there's no problem.
But the mother is taking it upon herself to narrow this child's horizons by choosing to give her the most rudimentary education (and before anyone else starts on the benefits of home schooling the mum has made it clear she doesn't believe the child needs anything more than a training in how to live on site.)
In its own way this is just as bad as people who choose for religious or cultural reasons decide to take girls out of school early because they should be wives and mothers. The OPs options for dealing with this are limited but let's be honest about this.

juneau Sat 18-May-13 11:25:59

Exactly cycling and bigkids. How many of the posters who've said there is nothing wrong with this kind of a life would actually want THEIR kids living like this? A big fat zero, is my guess. It's okay, as long as it's someone else's child.

juneau Sat 18-May-13 11:27:35

And what quesadilla said.

IneedAsockamnesty Sat 18-May-13 11:30:02

All the op says the mum has said is that she believes school is a waste of time and no child of hers will go.

That's not quite the same thing as I will only educate my child to live on a site.

FJL203 Sat 18-May-13 11:31:24

I'm really insulted at being tagged as "Liberal" because of my view, through personal experience, on this one issue. hmm

The Child has no set bedtime - and...? hmm

The Child can read/write do sums, is polite, well mannered, "very bright and articulate.^ So someone's teaching her. Someone's teaching her manners too. It's not the absent parent so I think we might be able to credit the PWC for it, might we not? She has every opportunity to branch out in later life, nothing is closed to her at the age of 8 FGS.

The Child is educated in what appears to be an autonomous, child-led, holistic and unstructured HE style. Go read up on it rather than panning it because it doesn't conform to your norms.

The Child is dirty. Newsflash. Kids playing in fields, climbing trees, running around playing with dogs, they get dirty. Dirt washes off.

The Child has no bath or running water. Neither do my kids when they stay in a similar environment from time to time (not with travellers, I add, I'm not defending the mum because she's a traveller). Like my kids this one has clean hair, no nits and the OP reports no ill treatment or body conditions related to uncleanliness. I survived for 14 years without a bathroom or running hot water. My mother was not neglectful, I did not suffer abuse. I never suffered nits, body lice or anything of the sort. A tin bath and a strip wash can keep you just as clean you know.

Cycling, what's all this bollocks about body lice etc etc which you're reeling off? There's no more reason to suspect that the child has these than there is to suspect that you have. The OP says she's dirty (refer back to tree climbing, fields and playing with dogs), not bloody diseased!

And I've already said that the drug taking, with or without children present, is a disgrace. Pretty remarkable for a "Liberal", eh? Some of you appear to be making the huge mistake that the defenders of this mother are all middle class lefties. You're wrong on both counts.

And juneau, since my kids and I between us have pretty much experienced all of this child's lifestyle, your prediction of a big fat zero wanting it for our kids is wrong.

Timetoask Sat 18-May-13 11:32:12

OP the two things that worried about your post are: 1) lack of education Dniece is getting 2)druggies smoking infront of her.

I think if it where my child, I would try to take her away from that environment. Will it be possible though? Will the law be on your brother's side?

If he loses the battle, he might also lose contact with DD which would be detrimental to her.

I would support Dniece as much as you can whilst she is in your DB's care, hope that she will be clever enough to make the right choices when she is a grown up.

FJL203 Sat 18-May-13 11:34:28

*Correction - all except the drug taking. Anyone doing that in front of my kids wouldn't be around us for long.

cyclingtreadworn Sat 18-May-13 11:37:27

Exactly quesadilla. Life is tough enough once you become an adult, and extremely tough indeed I would imagine if you've had no sort of proper education...and let's be grown ups about this, running around on a travellers site learning about Nature and a few sums is not a proper education. Her mother sounds fundamentally selfish and ignorant. We are hugely fortunate to live in a country where every child has the right to a free education. There are children in other countries who would give anything to go to school. Education is so important and opens so many doors for you as an adult, yet this silly woman dismisses it as a waste of time. Poor girl.

cyclingtreadworn Sat 18-May-13 11:42:00

FLJ, body lice prefer to live on dirty bodies and clothes. Body lice cause itching and discomfort. I expect in the magic holistic land some of you inhabit though hygiene is over rated. Again, sorry to burst your bubbled, but you should really, er, try to keep your child clean. If there's no running water give her a wipe down at the end of the day....sounds like she's too busy smoking weed though

IneedAsockamnesty Sat 18-May-13 11:51:06

She's clearly doing that the child has clean hair and no reported health issues related to hygiene

cyclingtreadworn Sat 18-May-13 11:52:03

The OP says that she is filthy.

IneedAsockamnesty Sat 18-May-13 11:55:20

But so filthy she has clean hair has never had nits and no hygiene related issues.

People overuse the word filthy.

cyclingtreadworn Sat 18-May-13 11:58:01

And poor hygiene is linked to poor health. Amazed that I'm even having to write that tbh. My ds went away for a few days once to stay with friend (never again) and was given no access to baths or showers and was too young to really take it upon herself. When she came home she was itchy, sore and red down below, and smelt. Can't believe some of you are defending not keeping your child clean. Yes it sounds as if the mother washes and brushes but her body needs to be kept clean too! For health reasons but also social ones.

cyclingtreadworn Sat 18-May-13 11:58:36

My ds not ds.

FJL203 Sat 18-May-13 11:59:01

"Filthy" is subjective. It's not a state I want to be in but I can manage it if I'm playing silly buggers with my youngest, out climbing trees, making rope swings, paddling in the stream. Or at least my mother would describe it as such. I'd say we were "dirty". So, the child is the OP's version of "filthy". Not mine, my mother's or yours.

The child's not suffering any health related issues as a result of being dirty. Being up in arms about body lice is all very well if the child has them. Until the OP tells us any more than the lass is in her opinion "filthy" all you're doing is overreacting or extrapolating, Cycling.

IneedAsockamnesty Sat 18-May-13 12:01:48

The child has no health concerns. If the child was sore and smelly anywhere do you not think the op would have said given that it would validate her concerns.

FJL203 Sat 18-May-13 12:04:22

NB I think the clue to the OP's views and her definition of "filthy" might be better understood by considering the fact that her description of 8 year olds painting their nails is given as "basic care" and "normal". wink

ll31 Sat 18-May-13 12:06:25

Issues like bed time are non issues,filthy too probably-given that op sees nail varnish on 8 yr old as basic care, her ideas of what being filthy is may be different to some. Op appears to have no idea what type of he child is getting,so can't comment on that.
So child is happy,healthy,articulate-don't see neglect tbh. Education may be an issue but we don't have enough info to know.
If I was op,I'd support brother in maintaining relationship .

FJL203 Sat 18-May-13 12:06:51

"The child has no health concerns. If the child was sore and smelly anywhere do you not think the op would have said given that it would validate her concerns." For the umpteenth time FGS!

There, fixed that for you Sock. wink grin

IneedAsockamnesty Sat 18-May-13 12:08:44



Ilikethebreeze Sat 18-May-13 12:16:18

I keep reading this thread and going away and coming back again.
It has taken me a while to work out what it is that is bothering me. And it is this.
Yes I get people have alternative lifestyles. And the op cannot and probably should not do much.
I also get the home ed bit.
But I have eventually realised that the bit that is bothering me is that will her niece end up doing any exams.
And if not, as a society, could that be deemed neglectful.

Because, by the time her niece is say 20, if she wants a job, are potential employers going to be put off by a lack of exams assuming that is indeed the case].

Mumsyblouse Sat 18-May-13 12:22:16

Ilike Yes- but how is going wading in saying 'my child isn't taking exams, you've got to put her in school' going to help the situation. Barring abuse or severe neglect (not a bit dirty neglect), there are very few laws about how we bring up our children, for example, there are free schools in which children choose whether to take exams, HEdders who do do exams, those that don't.

This is not the kind of neglect that social services is interested in, it is not the kind that will be up for discussion with the mother, and I think given that the relationship with the brother is rather tenuous, he cannot interfere in any way with the way the mother is bringing up her child without risking losing contact. It's just not worth it- especially if the child presents as polite, happy and bright.

IneedAsockamnesty Sat 18-May-13 12:24:03

And she may very well end up doing exams

Mumsyblouse Sat 18-May-13 12:26:54

And- if you want to be really harsh about it, there are plenty of schools in the country in which the children are in state education for 11 entire years and 30%+ still come out without the 5 A-C required for any type of further qualifications or job except NMW. All of those children are disadvantaged as this child will be except that this child has two caring parents who clearly are interested in her education (you don't accidentally get good at sums)!

I would not live this life it's not for me and if I saw someone else living it I would probably have to bite my tongue, but expressing concern will achieve nothing but alienate the mother and that is too big a risk to take, given he has no legal or other recourse (SS will not be visiting a travellers site to see a hair-clean happy bright but muddy child, even if they do smoke dope).

Rockinhippy Sat 18-May-13 12:27:04

I've know/know plenty of people in the community you are worried about & if your DN has good manners, has some literacy & math skills, no nits or scabies then it sounds to me like in the circumstances the DM is actually doing a bloody good job. If your DN is dirty when she arrives, then its probably down to having a wonderful childhood of playing in fields & woods & running free learning all kinds of interesting, not education based stuff.

I can understand your concern as its a different lifestyle to what you know, but it doesn't make it wrong, nor the DC neglected.

Your DB does the right thing - you all show your DN there are different life choices, ones she can make for herself when she is older if she so chooses.

best to butt out

5madthings Sat 18-May-13 12:27:09

When may well end up doing exams but children that go to school can end up leaving school with no exams/qualifications.

gordyslovesheep Sat 18-May-13 12:28:47

if the child is elected home educated then the LEA will be aware and will check what education she is receiving - plenty of EHE kids take exams, go on to FE and HE and have careers - whether they live in houses or not

VikingLady Sat 18-May-13 12:29:21

She can do exams at college for free if/when she wants to (age 14+ from this September), so it will not stop her getting into university - again, should she want to.

ParadiseChick Sat 18-May-13 12:30:23

Do we afford the heroin user who lives in a tip of a house, with toothless children who attend school sporadically, who are dirty and in poor clothing the same allowances that are being made here?

Mumsyblouse Sat 18-May-13 12:30:32

Oh, there are plenty of children age 8 in full-time education who cannot read and write well (presumably if she struggled with this the OP would mention it) and do sums, plenty. This didn't happen by accident, sorry, it's not just her 'being bright'.

IneedAsockamnesty Sat 18-May-13 12:30:48

And plenty of children in formal state school don't even get put forward for exams.

ExBrightonBell Sat 18-May-13 12:30:57

Ilikethebreeze... not doing exams could be seen as neglectful?! Er, no. Not at all.

The child is only 7 or 8, and as many people have already said, lots of children who have a non traditional education choose to take exams when they are older and do perfectly well.

Indeed, many naice middle class parents send their children to Steiner schools which have a similar approach to lots of home educators, and the children don't have to do exams. I assume you would be ok with that though as it's a proper school and the parents have to pay?

5madthings Sat 18-May-13 12:31:02

The Lea may not be aware and they cannot insist on checking to see if a child is receiving an education.

Ilikethebreeze Sat 18-May-13 12:31:04

I agree I think.

Ilikethebreeze Sat 18-May-13 12:32:12

I was replying to mumsyblouse.
Didnt realise there would be about 8 replies in 5 minutes!

IneedAsockamnesty Sat 18-May-13 12:33:57


A child who is registered with a school by law needs to attend a child who is not registered does not need to.

This child is not toothless nor has poor clothing been mentioned ( and the one your looking for is not poor or dirty clothing its inappropriate clothing)

Heroin is a very different drug.

gordyslovesheep Sat 18-May-13 12:34:53

er no * ParadiseChick * if the kids are at school but don't attend - because that is different from home educating - that is NOT educating ...different thing

IneedAsockamnesty Sat 18-May-13 12:35:56

5mad it is my understanding that the LA an ask but they cannot demand visual proof.

gordyslovesheep Sat 18-May-13 12:36:22

and the LEA can and do have to establish the child is receiving an education - I have EHE children on my case load and have done many home visits with EWO's

Mumsyblouse Sat 18-May-13 12:38:22

Do we afford the heroin user who lives in a tip of a house, with toothless children who attend school sporadically, who are dirty and in poor clothing the same allowances that are being made here?

Umm, no, because this lady isn't a heroin user! Her child isn't toothless!

And- being very very blunt, there are plenty of children who are really very neglected in the way you describe who do not come to the attention of social services- I hate to mention the case but Tia Sharpe being one of them, mum a crack addict, child attended school sporadically, lived with a gran with a man with 30 convictions - not on SS register at all. I knew a lovely girl who lived up our road with her alcoholic mother who used to lie in the street- she was known to SS but not taken away. The threshold for concern for SS is incredibly high, they will not be interested in this.

So- the only option would be for the brother to express his own concerns- but for what? This mum has deliberately and actively chosen to reject conventional society, saying 'why don't you join conventional society?' is a non-conversation.

He can keep an eye, provide the love and attention and books and fun when he sees her, make sure the situation doesn't deteriorate, but no-one is going to sweep in and make this child live in a house, go to a school and have their nails painted, sorry!

ParadiseChick Sat 18-May-13 12:39:06

But is the lifestyle so different? Many children on estates left to do as they please because the choices their parents make mean they, the parents, can't or won't enforce restrictions.

Home educating properly is a valid route. What's to stop the parents of the children I'm talking about disengaging with formal schooling under the guise of home educating?

Surely then their choices are just different, not inappropriate or neglectful?

5madthings Sat 18-May-13 12:40:06

I home educated my children and I informed the Lea of this, I also invited them into my home to visit and see if they were happy with their 'education' but an Lea cannot insist on this.

ParadiseChick Sat 18-May-13 12:40:43

The threshold for concern is not 'very high', the resources available are very low resulting in only high need cases getting attention.

FJL203 Sat 18-May-13 12:41:28

"The Lea may not be aware and they cannot insist on checking to see if a child is receiving an education."

Correct, 5madthings, but if the LA (not LEA these days, btw), is aware of the existence of the child they can take court action if the parent provides no evidence to convince them that the child is receiving an appropriate education (see my comment re Phillips vs Brown as a precedent, above). The law is clear - the LA may not insist upon receiving proof but they are in a position to take action if they have reason to believe that there is no education taking place or the education being provided is unsatisfactory. Without proof to the contrary they would be reasonable, according to that precedent, to believe that this is the case.

So if they know about the child the chances are highly, highly likely that they are as satisfied as the law allows them to be that an appropriate education is being given or they are currently working with the mother to ensure that this is soon to be the case. In short, generally speaking LAs hate current laws on HE and want them tightened up or HE ended altogether and they'll go to extraordinary lengths to shoehorn children into school. Some are not beyond lying and bullying in order to achieve this - and I speak from personal experience on that front.

IneedAsockamnesty Sat 18-May-13 12:43:29

Paradise yes it is very different.

And the whole point of he s you get to chose how you do it,nobody gets to decide if its proper or not unless the child is not wing provided with an education at all.

ParadiseChick Sat 18-May-13 12:44:57

So who defines what meets that's requirement of providing an education?

ArthurCucumber Sat 18-May-13 12:45:03

The only thing I'd be concerned about at present is the pot smoking, tbh. As the girl gets older, the question of qualifications would be more relevant, and I'd hope her father will be able to make sure that the girl herself can make a properly informed decision about whether to attend school or work towards qualifications when she's older. He stands a better chance of being able to do that if he hasn't alienated the mother.

I don't agree (apart from the drugs) with the argument that if a child was living in a house, then it would be classed as neglect - therefore this is neglect. As long as the child is healthy, then she isn't being neglected in the context of her life. A regular bedtime is only an issue if you're getting up for school in the morning. A different level of hygiene - obviously as long as it isn't affecting the girl's health - isn't a problem if all the other kids are the same, as the child won't be ashamed or ostracised. Of course, if she has body lice and worms and all those other things, then that is a health issue. I assume that she doesn't, though - if the OP has taken the trouble to say that she hasn't got nits, then she probably would have mentioned if the child had been crawling with body lice.

Certainly the father needs to keep a close eye that his dd is healthy, doesn't seem unhappy, and has the right to exercise her own choices when older. I'd say that's the same for any child.

It isn't a question of being "right on", or not, it's a question of trying to work out, with the information we've got, whether the child is truly being neglected. I'd like to think that most respondents on here saw the thread title and were concerned about a child, rather than trying to show off how right on we are hmm.

gordyslovesheep Sat 18-May-13 12:45:08

I think they can prosecute if they are NOT getting an education so the parent has to prove the home education is happening - that is law -

'The council can make an ‘informal enquiry’ if you’re educating your child at home, to make sure they’re getting a suitable education. If the council thinks your child isn’t receiving a suitable education, they might serve a school attendance order' (direct gov)

rarely happens in practice

FJL203 Sat 18-May-13 12:45:15

I pressed send too soon. I meant to add that as a result of their opinions on HE most LAs are very, very hot on doing all they can to identify and track, if not clamp down on HEers.

quesadilla Sat 18-May-13 12:47:24

FYI don't want to make a prejudiced judgement about this because obviously have no evidence but while we are in the subject heroin is absolutely rife on some travellers sites and a lot of people who use it use cannabis smoking as a "cover story" for why they are so flaky.

Obviously I don't know if the mum does this and she may well not but its quite likely there are people doing it on site. And I realise there are junkies in mainstream society too but it's easier to avoid them. Personally the weed smoking isnt my biggest concern in this sutuation. Its not ideal but a lot of people do it without major health or social problems and the lack of school bothers me much more - but it's worth bearing in mind that weed may not be the only drug this child is exposed to.

(By the way I used to know quite a lot of people on site so this isn't just prejudice about travellers.)

Mumsyblouse Sat 18-May-13 12:47:43

I'm not trying to say it's a great lifestyle, I wouldn't choose it, I just don't think the brother is in much of a position to change anything except through his own actions and time spent with the child. If there's a big push to get all children into formal education, then the LEA/EWO will visit the site (there's a really big one near us and they do this).

And, who is to say that if push came to shove, the mum couldn't engage nicely with a EWO and/or produce some evidence of her education, she didn't just learn to read and write and do maths by magic (this may already be happening)!

If this child is reported either to an LEA or SS or other authority by the brother, they will just get up and move or go abroad, that's the lifestyle! What is for sure is that he would lose contact.

5madthings Sat 18-May-13 12:50:36

Yes I agree some la's can be arseholes about home ed! Thankfully ours were not and other is a strong home ed 'movement' in the county I live in.

The LA probably are aware of this child and as they are taking no action you would assume they are 'happy' with the education she is receiving. They may not support it or like it but legally other is little they can do, tho they do try and certainly pressure parents to send children to school. They will have a system for involvement with traveling families I expect.

gordyslovesheep Sat 18-May-13 12:51:50

actually LEA's are required by central government to track and engage ALL EHE children - it's not LEA's being over zealous

ParadiseChick Sat 18-May-13 12:53:47

I suppose my thinking is along the lines that as a society there is a certain norm, a level we expect other members of that society to meet and a degree of conformity expected.

It sounds like this women, and her children by default, have opted out of that.

Do we, as a society, leave her to it, regardless? And if so why is ok to support this non conformity and not that of a heroin user? Both have opted out of society to a certain degree have they not?

Interesting ponderings for a rainy afternoon.

ArthurCucumber Sat 18-May-13 12:54:29

As far as the education goes, I just don't think that a child, however bright, can learn to read without access to reading material and someone reading with her. Same for numeracy. My two learned to read without any formal teaching, but they didn't pluck it out of the air either. I'm still concerned about the drugs, especially in the light of what quesadilla said, but at her age she does indeed seem to be learning what she needs to know.

gordyslovesheep Sat 18-May-13 12:56:23

because not living in a house and home educating is hardly radical - it's a matter of where you sleep and where your kids do sums - using class A drugs, neglecting your kids health and education but living in a house is hardly better!

ParadiseChick Sat 18-May-13 12:56:40

We expect a certain level of engagement as well, from pre birth, schooling, health needs - is it truly possible to exist without engaging with these services? And is it safe not to? For some people it will be, for others it could mean children are left at risk. So what's the solution? If it's ok for some but not others, who decides?

5madthings Sat 18-May-13 12:58:49

I would imagine traveling families are tracked/checked up on more than others.

When we home educated I simply didn't apply for a school place for ds1 or ds2 and it was several years before I got in touch with the Lea, when we were then looking at flexi schooling. In that time no one contacted us and our HV and gp knew we were home educating and when we had to visit a&e when one of true boys hurt themselves the forms asked about which school they attended. We said they were home educated. No concerns were ever raises, no-one ca,e to check up on us at all. But then we lived in a house and dp worked and in guess in am typically middle class, with a degree and the usual life style and trappings of a middle class family. Even when I was poorly after the birth of ds4 and we had involvement with children's services the home education was not an issue!

FJL203 Sat 18-May-13 13:02:08

We don't interfere, ParadiseChick, in the same way that we don't prevent you from marrying because 1 in 4 women will be the victims of DV at some point in their lives. We allow people autonomy over their own lives, bodies and children.

To start deciding how a person lives, that a child must be educated only in a school with 30 people who are within 12 months of his own age is a dangerous thing imho.

Mumsyblouse Sat 18-May-13 13:05:49

If this camp is anything like the new age travellers camp near us, it will have plenty of engagement with services! It is possible to go under the radar though, and there have been a few high profile neglect cases connected with purported HE (the one where the little girl stole scraps of bread from the garden).

I would also say, her life can't be that chaotic if she keeps in touch and maintains contact with the child's father (brother). It would have been incredibly easy for her to just move off and let him drop out of their lives, but she clearly facilitates contact many times a year. That suggests, and the polite manners, and levels of reading/writing/maths, makes me think that it is not as chaotic as it might seem.

ParadiseChick Sat 18-May-13 13:07:01

But we do interfere, lots.

ParadiseChick Sat 18-May-13 13:10:54

I work with parents with chaotic lives long before the children are of school age.

5madthings Sat 18-May-13 13:11:43

mumsy I thought that as well, this mother could have easily moved and lost contact with the father and given the fact he was at one point an alcoholic I wouldn't have blamed her if she had. But she hasnt, she has maintained contact and allowed access etc so its likely she is doing the same with the relevant authorities re education.

rabbitlady Sat 18-May-13 13:11:53

leave them alone. if the child is bright, polite and articulate, she's miles ahead of many.

Ilikethebreeze Sat 18-May-13 13:13:59

Sock, is it possible for a child not to be registered with any shcool, or LA, and therefore not educatoin tracked at all?

ExBrighton, had a think about the Steiner schools. No, I am not happy about that.

MizK Sat 18-May-13 13:20:06

OP, I totally understand how you feel. The life your DN lives is so alien to the one my children have, and I think I'd be upset if a child in my family was brought up in that way.

However, the mother is entitled to choose how she lives, and, considering she has raised your DN to be well-mannered and free to speak her own mind shows to me that she is a good parent. She also managed without support from your DB perfectly well, so I doubt she will welcome any interfering from him at this stage.

Keep building the relationship with your niece, taking the opportunity to get to know her. If she feels comfortable with you, maybe in the future, if she needs help in getting into college etc, she'll feel able to turn to you.

You sound like you truly care about her OP so I realise it must be frustrating.

fastyspeedyfast Sat 18-May-13 13:32:31

As it's you who wants to take action, then take it. Start by getting on with her mum. Send her mum a note saying how impressed you are with DNiece who is a lovely girl and so smart and you're amazed by her math skills at only 8 years old. Be complimentary and not patronising. Then - slowly, a bit later - say wow she's so clever I wonder if we could pay for music lessons for her, or similar. Gently offer her mum some help, in an area you think would benefit DNiece. If she takes you up on it, that's fabulous for DNiece. If not, you can back off. You can always offer again later. But start by trying to build a genuinely good relationship with her mum.

FJL203 Sat 18-May-13 13:36:47

Ilike, as Sock hasn't replied I hope she and you won't mind if I do.

It is possible for a child not to be registered with any LA and therefore not education tracked at all. It's also perfectly legal. It's not entirely, 100% likely with this child though, given the circumstances.

If the child were registered with a school she would have to attend or otherwise the school would alert the LA and questions would be asked, visits made and court orders issued if appropriate. In order to HE a child who is on the school roll in England the parent is obliged in law to inform the school (not the LA) that they are withdrawing the child. The school then must take the child off roll immediately and must inform the LA of the matter.

FJL203 Sat 18-May-13 13:37:51

*Was, not were!

5madthings Sat 18-May-13 13:51:00

As i said on the other page, we home educated and for a numbet of years had no contact with the la, i simply didnt register them for school. Hv and gps etc knew but nothing happened. So it can happen but as others have said ibsuspect the travelling community are more closely monitered than many others.

Ilikethebreeze Sat 18-May-13 13:55:43

Thank you for replying FJL203.
I agree, it is probably not likely with the op's niece, that she is not registered.
I do think though, that it should be the law that all children are registered.

SDeuchars Sat 18-May-13 14:06:11

FJL203 wrote: It is possible for a child not to be registered with any LA and therefore not education tracked at all. It's also perfectly legal.

My DC were in that situation. We were registered with a doctor and a dentist and we saw HVs for a few months after each birth. I also childminded (so was registered with SS). I chose not to register either of them for school and was never questioned about HE (although we had plenty of contact with people). When they were 5 and 7, we moved to a different LA, where we registered with a doctor and dentist.

DD decided to try school for a term at 9 and so the first "educational" visit we had was after I deregistered her. After that unannounced and unsolicited (and thus disrespectful) visit, I wrote two letters to the LA about DD until she reached school-leaving age. I was never asked about DS - because he was never on a school roll (the LA thought they had no responsibility towards him - WRONG).

My DC were educated informally until they chose to take formal courses from age 14ish. Neither took GCSEs. DS will have one A-level and one AS by the end of next month. I expect to attend DD's graduation in law from an RG uni in July. DS is expecting to start at a different RG uni in October, as long as he gets an A in his A-level.

SDeuchars Sat 18-May-13 14:08:20

Ilikethebreeze: I do think though, that it should be the law that all children are registered.

Registered with whom for what? FLJ203 was talking about school registration. I'm sure the child's birth was registered - it is a criminal offence not to do so.

SDeuchars Sat 18-May-13 14:16:50

Mumsyblouse wrote (at 13:05:49): there have been a few high profile neglect cases connected with purported HE (the one where the little girl stole scraps of bread from the garden).

Khyra Ishaq was not an HE child - she was removed from school along with three siblings in order to cover neglect. Two other siblings were still in school. The family was reported to SS only 10 days before she died. She was failed by SWs who were too overworked, under-supported and under-resourced to realise that they had a responsibility to her regardless of her place of education.

gordyslovesheep wrote (at 12:51:50): actually LEA's are required by central government to track and engage ALL EHE children

They are required to track and engage children missing education (CME). The primary responsibility for educating a child is that of the parent. If the parent chooses not to delegate that responsibility, the LA cannot insist on involvement. It can only get involved if there is a reason to believe that the child is not being educated. (Exactly analogous to the responsibility a parent has for a child's welfare - SS can only get involved if there is a reason to suspect abuse or neglect.)

Ilikethebreeze Sat 18-May-13 14:17:05

I was talking, like FLJ203 about school registration. Or LA registration. I dont know how the system works.

SDeuchars. What made your children choose to take formal courses.
And are they happy with your decision not to have formal education before then?

SDeuchars Sat 18-May-13 14:23:40

Ilikethebreeze, it is not possible to register a child with school if the child is not going to attend. There is no process of registration with an LA and I don't understand what advantage you would see in it - after all, you do not register with the police or SS.

My DC wanted to take formal courses both because the courses looked interesting and because they wanted to go to university and (we hope) get professional jobs. They certainly did not want to rule that out by reaching 18 with no qualifications.

At the time DD started, she wanted to become a barrister or lawyer but she has since changed her mind about that. However, she will still have an LLB when she looks for jobs.

Mumsyblouse Sat 18-May-13 14:29:17

SDeuchars with reference to the Khyra Ishaq case, that's why I said 'purported' HE, in other words, not genuinely for that purpose, but her mother certainly did remove some of the children from school and write and say she was home educating them, and was inspected and found fit to do so. Of course you are right, this was a case for SS and therein the sadness lies (due to lack of funding).

Mumsyblouse Sat 18-May-13 14:31:26

And- I also have several family members who were either HE for periods or attended schools in which they didn't have to take formal qualifications, and some of them (not all) have gone on to seek them later in life, and all are well employed!

SDeuchars Sat 18-May-13 14:36:08

I didn't intend to suggest you were unaware, Mumsyblouse. However, other people may not have remembered much about the Khyra Ishaq case.

ExBrightonBell Sat 18-May-13 14:58:01

Ilikethebreeze, is the only type of education that you consider valid that of the state sector where schools follow a national curriculum and pupils are enrolled in national exams?

I'm a secondary school teacher who teaches in the state sector, and I really do think that there are many models of learning that are valid. I'm not even certain I want to educate my own son via the traditional route, as I see at first hand the pros and cons.

IneedAsockamnesty Sat 18-May-13 14:58:21


I didnt mind at all I was doing some work.

My 14 year old nephew is HE he currently has 9 gcse's all grade a some other qualifications that I am unaware of and last year started doing a degree in geology via the OU he has also published a book.He is not a gifted child but he is a child who has benefitted significantly from having a informal 1:1 education and has never set foot in a normal classroom

SDeuchars Sat 18-May-13 14:59:27

Sorry, Ilikethebreeze, I didn't answer the second half of your question at 14:17: And are they happy with your decision not to have formal education before then?

It wasn't a case of me deciding not to have formal education before then. How to "do" education was a regular subject of discussion among us. As I said, DD decided to try school for a term at 9yo. Both DC knew that school was an option and we frequently discussed their activities (before 13 they had various other sorts of lessons - music, sports, languages, etc.).

They are both happy with the education they received during "compulsory school age" and intend to HE any children they may have in the future.

Ilikethebreeze Sat 18-May-13 15:13:19

The problem that I can think of, is if a child is not registered with any school, and therefore not any form of educational establishment, is that there is then no necessity at all for a parent or guardian to educate a child at all.
And that, imo, is grossly unfair on that child.
And yes, neglectful.
Because that child has no say. And wont be able to know enough to have a say for several years.

You sound like you have been educated yourself, and have been in a situation to educate your children. And have taken on board what your children wanted re education when they were older.

What is a LLB please.

SDeuchars Sat 18-May-13 15:31:04

Why do parents and guardians feed and clothe their children? It's not because someone is checking on them. By the same token, people educate their children because it is good for the child.

Also, I don't know anyone who wants their adult children unable to provide for themselves. Home-educating parents (like most parents, however they educate their children) want their children to grow up to be happy, fulfilled adults who are useful members of society (whichever part of society they choose to join, to allude to the topic of the thread). The way they choose to get there may be different and may not look anything like "normal" but is that a problem unless they are raising criminals or "benefit scroungers"?

An LLB is a Bachelor of Law (so, like a BA or BSc but in law).

Goldmandra Sat 18-May-13 17:24:41

What evidence is there from the OP that the child is coming to any harm?

I mean significant harm in child protection terms.

I would allow my children to play with this child and her friends unless I had reason to believe they would come to harm and that applies just as much to children who live in five bedroomed detached houses, shower twice a day and wear designer clothes. Nothing the OP has said would make me thing that my child would come to harm playing with her DNeice.

Wuldric Sun 19-May-13 00:03:41

The nits thing is a puzzle. The child is educationally deprived, dirty, parents on drugs and all the rest of the sorry tale.

But at least she has never had nits ... What, so having nits is the acme of incompetent parenting?

<gazes at DD, who has had nits numerous times. I blame that private school of hers, I do really>

Madmum24 Sun 19-May-13 00:31:32

Your dn is living a life that I would love for my kids and I am far from new age minus the dope smoking. She is loved, cared for, has a strong relationship with her primary care givers. These are things that many children growing up in UK who live in homes with running water, go to school and are not muddy do not have.

According to the education act every child is to receive an education that enables him/her to integrate into the community that he/she belongs to and 7/8 year old children in school will not be doing more than basic maths, and according to government statistics quite a large percentage (can't remember) cannot read fluently, so your neice is doing well. It sounds as though her mother follows the unschooling philosophy, where children lead their own education and the parents facilitate this learning, but do not initiate any formal learning. Children do not actually need 9-3 school hours in order to learn.

Whilst obviously OP this lifestyle doesn't suit you, it is clearly working for your niece. She probably enjoys the change of her routine (having bath/hair wash/picking underwear in the same way a child who this is normal for would really enjoy staying on a bus/not washing in a bathroom etc.

Aside from the weed smoking I would be happy for her. I would much rather my kids out playing in the mud than staying inside and sitting infront of the tv/xbox all day.

CrabbyBigbottom Sun 19-May-13 08:55:34

I am shock hmm angry at the ignorance displayed about elective home education on this thread, and the narrowminded of some posters who seem to think it's only possible to get an education sitting in a classroom all day.

As it says here, education is compulsory, school is not. The 1996 Education Act specifies this:

Section 7: Duty of parents to secure education of children of compulsory school age

The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable—

a: to his age, ability and aptitude, and

b: to any special educational needs he may have,

either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.

Glad to see some Home Edders on here dispelling some of the myths.

CrabbyBigbottom Sun 19-May-13 09:01:10

Also, the child is 8 years old FGS! In Scandinavian countries they don't even begin formal education until the age of 7. She can read, write and do sums, what on earth is the relevance of exams at this stage in her childhood??

When I took my daughter out of school aged 8, her maths was appalling. It's taken 2 years (and still ongoing!) to get her near competent and confident. Children learn things like maths far more effectively with one-on-one tuition than in a class of 30 kids where the brightest are underchallenged and the slowest or most inattentive get left behind.

CrabbyBigbottom Sun 19-May-13 09:01:54

That should have been narrowmindedness in my first post, obviously.

LIZS Sun 19-May-13 09:02:49

child is educationally deprived Can you honestly say that an unconventional education is not as valid ? Someone has instilled basic skills and ethics in this child, she is polite and sociable. Maybe for now that is enough and longer term she may want more. As long as the choice is hers is it really a problem.

Ilikethebreeze Sun 19-May-13 09:41:35

As far as I know, there are no standards of home education. No benchmarks.
So it can range from good enough to awful.[I know one that is probably good enough?, 1 where the child took it upon herself at about 17 or 18 to sort it out herself by going to college, and 1 where the outcome is bad].

zzzzz Sun 19-May-13 09:52:45

Standards of institutionalised education can range from goo to awful too hmm.

I'm amazed that so many people are so anti-home-based-education. It's really no different than choosing to teach your child to swim yourself or taking it to swimming lessons. Surely you choose what to spend your time doing (if you can) and how to do things?

zzzzz Sun 19-May-13 09:53:06

Good, blush

Ilikethebreeze Sun 19-May-13 09:57:41

Home education is not seen nationally as top of the range education is it?

FJL203 Sun 19-May-13 10:54:31

HE is not seen as the top of the range of education because of ignorance and misinformation spread either by the uninitiated or those with a political agenda, ilike.

If you read the circulars and websites of many LAs you will find lies, coercion, deliberate misinformation and very interesting, clever wording.

Such as, for example, "If you plan to HE you should contact your LA who will consider your application and contact you when and if it is approved".

I'm not quoting verbatim but I can remember the words from a certain NE England local authority's website, written information and the letter they sent to me as near as damn it. Note the word "should". The unaware parent would do exactly as they were told upon receipt of that letter because a government agency says they should.

I knew the law. I know that "should" means "you don't have to in law so we can't say 'must' but we're trying to make it look like you must". I also knew that the LA has no right in law whatsoever to expect me to forward any application to home ed nor does it have the right in law to approve or disapprove my right to home educate.

That is what HEers are up against.

Cambridgeshire is another great example. A FOI request threw up a response of the LA to a government green paper - an opinion which hadn't been published and which Cambs LA wanted kept quiet. I can't find it for the life of me atm but will do, I was only reading it last night! Essentially, it has transpired that Cambs LA doesn't think that education can be adequately provided unless in a structured, school environment with school type provisions.

Maybe SDeuchars can quote it - Ms Deuchars and I have spoken about HE often on another, long since gone parenting forum and I know how aware and committed she is on the subject. <waves>

Interestingly, taking into account some of their appalling state schools and going on personal experience I would say that the last thing I'd want to do is subject a child to Cambs LA's doctrine and that they're in no position to criticise HE.

FJL203 Sun 19-May-13 11:11:59

Here you are!

Cambs LA said;

"It is difficult to conceive of an education being deemed adequate unless the premises are equipped to a particular standard, work is marked, and detailed plans are made in advance."

This opinion was countered by Home Education UK who stated:

"It is highly likely that such a presumption contravenes the human rights of many parents within Cambridgeshire LA and, by providing an LA with a parental philosophy of education home educators can take the first and crucial step towards preventing LAs from wrongfully prejudging what is acceptable education; this is not the remit of LAs."

As I said, this is what HE is up against. Ignorance, politics, conformity and conservatism. There are plenty of well educated, intelligent, successful young people and adults in this country, they just get brushed under the carpet by those who don't like that fact.

Branleuse Sun 19-May-13 11:12:06

her childhood sounds idyllic to me

Goldmandra Sun 19-May-13 11:19:40

detailed plans are made in advance.

That sentence alone demonstrates a gross lack of understanding of how children learn most effectively.

Mumsyblouse Sun 19-May-13 11:24:43

Unfortunately, it is many children who are in the state system who are educationally deprived. Just the other day, I was reading the London Standard about Boris Johnson having a 'read-in' at Trafalgar Square because, the quote said, nearly 1 in 5 children leave primary school unable to read and write and he wanted to change that! How on earth can you be concerned about one reading/writing/happy/bright child who is a bit dirty when you have an education system in place that, in the capital, can't get 1 in 5 to read and write properly!

I am not a home-edder, I haven't got the patience for it and enjoy my own career, but I am pretty convinced that HE could well be superior for some, although not necessarily these under-achievers as their lack of progress could well be linked to illiteracy/numeracy problems/under-enthusiasm for school in their own parents.

There are issues here in this situation, but the positives are that the child is having contact with the brother and a more conventional upbringing, so is able to make comparisons as she grows up, and should anything change and the brother be really concerned about his child in terms of significant harm/neglect, then he can go for the nuclear option.

CrabbyBigbottom Sun 19-May-13 11:26:12

@ Ilike

So it can range from good enough to awful.

What, like state schools, you mean?

the child took it upon herself at about 17 or 18 to sort it out herself by going to college

What, like millions of other young people who go to college to further their studies? And like HE youngsters who attend college in order to get A-levels (not necessarily having done GCSEs first) to get into uni?

and 1 where the outcome is bad

What, like the millions of school leavers who finish education without any skills or qualifications?

Home education is not seen nationally as top of the range education is it?

No, I believe private or public schools are generally viewed as the top of the range. Certainly many state schools aren't!

Lonecatwithkitten Sun 19-May-13 12:22:42

This thread reminds me of the well adjusted adults with good jobs some of them solicitors, accountants and doctors who I meet everyday who grew up just round the corner from me at the Greenham Common Peace camp. In addition to everything listed they witnessed their mothers chaining themselves up, being arrested, going to court regularly (in the 1980s magistrates court ran 6 days a week here to cope with the public order offences) and sometimes their mothers went to prison and the camp looked after them till their mothers returned.
Many of these individuals made the choice at 13 to 14 themselves to go to school and had a not dissimilar grounding to their formally educated counterparts, but a much greater understanding of the world. Some of them didn't do that, but I know several who have no formal education, but yet they joined the UK's largest company (based here) and are now some of the top managers there so school learning is not everything.
Through my job I also have regular contact with the homeless community who without exception have been formally educated and it is usually some failure in this system that lead to them being where they are.

Ilikethebreeze Sun 19-May-13 14:54:43

State school range from pretty excellent to awful.
Mine went to a pretty good one. Home Ed wouldnt have been able to beat it. Or any of the other schools around here for my bright children.
For children who are not very bright, or perhaps in the bottom 35% of the population, I suppose it is quite possible for Home Ed to beat state ed,so long as the parents or guardians are prepared to put in proper work.
tbh, I am not really talking here to people who Home Ed as they will always disagree with me.

Lonecat, I do not know anyone as you describe.
I have decided to get my kids to ask around the places where they work, to do an unscientific study.

cory Sun 19-May-13 15:07:12

I don't HE and never would, but have known very bright children who have done well out of HE.

Not quite sure I understand why bright children should do less well- surely bright children often find it easier to work independently anyway? And that is before you consider the fact that bright children are statistically likelier to have bright parents.

CrabbyBigbottom Sun 19-May-13 15:10:25

For children who are not very bright, or perhaps in the bottom 35% of the population, I suppose it is quite possible for Home Ed to beat state ed

shock Fucking hell, your ignorance astounds me! shock

Mine went to a pretty good one. Home Ed wouldnt have been able to beat it. No it certainly wouldn't - not being educated by you!

SDeuchars Sun 19-May-13 15:13:36

Ilikethebreeze: Home education is not seen nationally as top of the range education is it?

There are two issues with this statement:
- Home education is not regulated or monitored, so there are no government statistics about outcomes.
- Only about 1% of children of compulsory school age are home-educated at any one time, so any statistics would apply to a very small number of children.

Many home educators would suggest that EHE is top of the range - it is the ultimate in private education. In fact, it is the only sort of education that can fulfill Education Act 1996 s7 for every child. Schools do not (and cannot) give every child an education that is:
- efficient (no time wasted lining up, waiting for everyone to settle down, trying to do maths when tired, etc.)
- full-time (home educated children learn stuff which their educators acknowledge as valuable through most of their waking hours)
- suitable to age, ability and aptitude (if a 10yo is doing Level 6 maths, Level 3 English and Grade 7 violin, home education can cope - even if we wouldn't use those terms)
- suitable to any special educational needs (many home educators start EHE because their child's SEN are not being met in school).

The other problem is that there is no good definition of what a good education is. For me, it is not defined by academic qualifications but by what sort of adult is raised. I see the education industry largely colluding with the government in infantilising our young adults. The hundreds of home educators with whom I am in contact tend to think that an adult who can get on in the world and be happy is a better outcome than one with many GCSEs and A-levels. This is not to suggest that someone with many GCSEs and A-levels cannot be happy but rather that a happy, self-determining young adult is likely to be able to achieve the qualifications they need (and to know what they want to do).

CrabbyBigbottom Sun 19-May-13 15:15:16

Incidentally, I have nothing against school at all, in fact I've tried to persuade DD to go back on several occasions but she's having none of it. grin

But Ilike is rubbishing something that she clearly knows absolutely fuck all about, and speaking as though her ill-informed opinion is the only right way. It makes me angry

cory Sun 19-May-13 15:15:51

I'm sitting here revisiting childhood memories of learning German and Old English at home and pondering the idea that this would have been more doable if only I had been in the bottom 35% of the population. I don't quite get it. Have to admit I don't quite get it. Probably because I'm too bright.

FJL203 Sun 19-May-13 15:17:33

Ilike, that's some of the most arrogant, ignorant and patronisingly insulting crap I've ever read on MN - and believe me, I've read plenty.

You have no personal experience of HE. You made it clear upthread that you are totally ignorant on how HE works, how it's administered or how it's governed and regulated so you're patently not sufficiently well equipped to judge this form of education.

You're not the only one with <gags> "bright" children. I have "bright" children too, children who both passed academic scholarship examinations to attend independent school, coming above hundreds of others in the process. I'm not normally so vulgar as to boast of my "bright" children; however it's reasonable to mention it here, since you raised the subject.

And I suppose that SDeuchar's HE children are another example of your conclusion that HE children who are "not very bright" and who have benefitted from HE more than they would have from state education?

To patronisingly, dismissively say that "For children who are not very bright, or perhaps in the bottom 35% of the population, I suppose it is quite possible for Home Ed to beat state ed,so long as the parents or guardians are prepared to put in proper work." is laughable. Take a look at the results of some of the inner city schools - try the Manor in Cambridge where on 48% of kids come out with 5 good GCSEs or Charles Edward Brooke in Lambeth where only 40% come do. Yes, state schools are performing wonders, aren't they? hmm

And don't get me started on the manners, behaviour and social skills of the children in these and other state schools like them.


FJL203 Sun 19-May-13 15:23:11

* Sorry for the grammatical errors in that last post. My annoyance was too advanced for my typing skills!

SDeuchars Sun 19-May-13 15:23:39

Ilikethebreeze, I think that you are correct in saying that home ed is probably better than state ed for the bottom third of children - that is because the education industry does a pitiful job (including by allowing there to be a concept like ^bottom third^).

My children are academically bright - the schools around here are generally not. However, I decided to HE long before they were born (and before we moved to this town). One reason was that, as a bright child in a large comprehensive, I had a false sense of how bright I was until I went to uni, when suddenly I was with people of the same level. I did not want to risk my bright children thinking they were geniuses (particularly once I examined the NC). I wanted them to achieve what was important to them (even things they were not good at) at their own pace.

Incidentally, I would also have HEed if my children had had specific difficulties (whether physical, emotional or mental - in fact, one is not neurotypical and HE allowed us to deal with that without having to dwell on difference).

propertyNIGHTmareBEFOREXMAS Sun 19-May-13 15:25:53

Yabvu. I actually have respect for your brother who seems sensible, sensitive and diplomatic. It is great that he has a good relationship with his child and accepts that his ex girlf's lifestyle is the same as it was when he met her.

KatyDid02 Sun 19-May-13 15:31:16

Apart from the issue of smoking pot, I think she's going to be fine. SHe has a life with her mother, a life with her father and the two are wildly different but she's coping by the sounds of it. She probably likes the stuff with you in the same way that we like doing different stuff on holiday.
As for the smoking pot, it's not ideal but there are worse things that could happen.
As others have said, provide her with books, give her a good time when she is with you and also try to understand some of her culture and way of life.

Lonecatwithkitten Sun 19-May-13 16:25:19

Llike unless you live in the town I do I doubt you have meet the type of people. My point is that in 1982 there were 30,000 women and their children living in the camps around Greenham Common most of these children were HE, partly as our schools physically couldn't cope partly as these families were of no fixed abode. Many,many of them stayed in the area so probably my town has a higher concentration of adults who were HE at some point than any other town in the UK so it probably is representative.
The fact that the vast majority of people who are seen in homeless projects have been let down by mainstream education at some point is widely recognised.
I do not HE for a variety of reasons, however, I acknowledge that mine is not the only way and that HE is as good as what I do and might even been better. I often think my bright child would actually be better in HE able to run far and fast with certain topics.

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