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Alternatives to mainstream education - where to start?

(18 Posts)
AfroPunk Mon 17-Oct-16 18:16:45

Firstly, I've posted this across various sections of the Education board as I realise this is a varied topic.

I have 3 dcs, two of whom are in mainstream primary education. My eldest dc is in Y3, middle dc is in YR. My eldest had a hard time in Years 1&2 as she was struggling with reading and writing ( she didn't pass the Y1 phonics test which was stuffed full of questions that previously had been Y2 questions). It's an excellent school where my kids go, but since dd1 has been in Y3, I feel more than ever she is being taught to merely pass tests. She has weekly spellings which are HARD - I don't remember having to learn that stuff at age 7/8, and I'm not stupid. There's a weekly homework task on top of daily reading. This Michael Gove curriculum doesn't feel very satisfying to me; it's like they're learning to put a tick in the right boxes and not actually learning to question or critically engage, or be particularly creative. I hate that.

I have no idea where to start in terms of alternative education (BTW, I'm a SAHP with a newborn and two pocket rockets for daughters, so Home Ed is out of the question). Advice is appreciated 

cheminotte Mon 17-Oct-16 18:20:21

Maybe see if there are any Steiner schools near you? I believe they are more child-led.
Funny you should say HE is out, I would think being a SAHP is a great advantage. I'm a WOHP who wouldn't mind doing a bit of HE as long as I can still work!

AfroPunk Mon 17-Oct-16 18:27:25


If I had an only child, or if my dds were of a quieter temperament, I would consider home schooling. However, I worry that I would isolate them from people of their own age, which I think would have a negative effect in the future. I worry that I would get distracted by one of my children, which would effect either dc1, 2 or 3's education...

Maybe I'll post in the home ed topic and get advice smile

Enidblyton1 Mon 17-Oct-16 18:38:59

Is the school known for being a particularly academic primary? In our small town we have one huge infant school in the centre of town and about 10 smaller (combined year classes) village schools around the edge. All of them have their strengths and weaknesses. Some are known to be more academic. Others have a more relaxed approach. Some seem to have more emphasis on music and drama. Do you know much about the other primary options in your area? Ask around and maybe go and visit some of them to get a feel. Just because they follow the same curriculum, it doesn't mean they have the same emphasis. (Though of course depending upon where you live, catchments may be an issue. It doesn't seem to be here so maybe we're v lucky)

Otherwise, is paying for schooling an option for you?

meditrina Mon 17-Oct-16 18:50:01

I'd be wary of Steiner in your shoes, or at least research it carefully. It is on a different rhythm to the state school curriculum, but is extremely rigid in the order it introduces concepts and the way in which they are done, and it helps enormously if you embrace the tenets of anthroposophy fully. If you are happy with all that, it could be exactly right, but if you are seeking flexibility check carefully because you won't get that. But you will get a totally different approach and only you can decide if you like it.

Whilst you are deciding what you do, it might be worth improving communication with the current school. The phonics screening in year 1 has only ever existed as a year 1 screening and it's just not possible for there to have been year 2 questions (also because there are no questions). So they must have described things to you remarkably badly to have left you with that impression. Now, that might well be another reason you need to change setting. But sorting it out might help in the short term whilst you evaluate options.

titchy Mon 17-Oct-16 19:15:58

don't remember having to learn that stuff at age 7/8,

Be serious - no one can remember what they were taught age 7!

Daily reading and one piece of homework a week sounds perfectly normal tbh. If your child's struggling I agree you need to talk to the teacher. Ask how they enrich the curriculum as well and maybe look for opportunities outside of school too - theatre, music lessons, art and drama workshops, sports clubs etc.

HeCantBeSerious Mon 17-Oct-16 19:22:01

Many parents find they only need to facilitate an hour or 2 per day to replicate the learning of the school setting. I can't see any reason that you absolutely couldn't home educate.

mary21 Mon 17-Oct-16 20:14:40

Not sure where in the country you are but what about schools such as
The New Forest Small School or
The London Acorn School or
St Chris in Letchworth.
Unfortunately they are all fee paying

SisterViktorine Mon 17-Oct-16 20:20:27

If you can pay it will open up lots of options. My DS is at a gloriously relaxed country Prep with a genuinely rich curriculum and stress-free approach to childhood.

mouldycheesefan Tue 18-Oct-16 13:49:37

To be honest, reading daily, weekly spelling and weekly homework isn't that much. All doable. In terms of failing the phonics test, most children do pass, does your dd need extra help, do they have Sen etc, dyslexia? They spend the whole year drilling them to pass. I think a couple with special need at our school didn't pass. If your chi,d is struggling then speak to the senco at school. I am not convinced that changing school is the answer unless you find somewhere where they will get lots of support.
Good luck with your search.

gillybeanz Tue 18-Oct-16 13:58:03

I think if you did some research around what H.ed parents do and the various philosophies and methods, you may be surprised.
It isn't the same as school and you do what you want and what suits your family.
Parenting several children needn't affect any one of their education.

Ferrari2016 Tue 18-Oct-16 14:30:18

Your starting point should be the teacher and understanding why your child did not pass the phonics test. I do not agree about home ed being the answer. I imagine HE is a huge undertaking.

Mishaps Tue 18-Oct-16 14:39:05

I know you said home ed would not be a possibility for you, but try this site:

There is a lot more to home ed than you might think and every opportunity is taken for like-minded families to share the load.

VikingMama Tue 18-Oct-16 17:10:53

Don't rule out home ed for social reasons. We have 2 or 3 scheduled activities a day that I can take my daughter to plus the ad hoc meet ups. Check your local home ed Facebook pages.

JoJoSM2 Fri 21-Oct-16 23:09:41

The homework that your daughter gets doesn't sound much at all.
If you feel there isn't much creativity, you could do that with her at home? And would you be able to learn more about what the children do all day? I think you might find there is room to be creative. Spellings need to be memorised, though. I would like to point out that learning things by heart actually improves your memory which is a very positive thing.

Ta1kinpeece Sat 22-Oct-16 21:48:29

I am utterly against HE for a million and one reasons that are not relevant to your thread.

What is relevant is to address your rose tinted glasses.
My family are hoarders.
I have my spelling and homework books from when I was in what is now KS 1 in the late 60's

the weekly spelling test would horrify you - 20 words to memorise and recite against the clock in front of the class every week

times tables backwards, sideways upside and down

reading with mummy (as she would not have a job of course) each bed time

AND times have changed.
There is this little thing called the interweb that has impacted on how and what kids learn.

State schools prepare kids for the rough and tumble of the real world.
The rich insulate themselves from it.
HE kids have to adjust when they escape parental clutches

the best thing you can do is to let your kids go to state school for 1/6 of their waking hours (the actual statistic)
and fill their heads with fun stuff in the other 5/6

Badbadbunny Sun 23-Oct-16 20:23:45

They're tightening up on what is learned at primary, and about time too. We've been through primary with my son over the past decade or so and I was horrified at how LITTLE they did, how slowly they did it, and how EASY the spellings, grammar and maths was. It wasn't a patch on what I remember doing at primary in the 1970s. I suspect the OP is considerable younger than me, and maybe went to primary in the 90s' or early 00's at the height of the dumbing down, so today's primary school work may seem harder.

As with all things, the pendulum is swinging and may have swung too far to make things too hard, but that's as a result of things being too easy. It's a matter of correction.

I remember talking to my son's teachers many times over the years asking for harder spellings, harder sums, etc., but it's a waste of breath - they do what they want to suit the majority, i.e. lessons aimed at average pupils, not the extremes.

NicknameUsed Sun 23-Oct-16 20:31:23

"the weekly spelling test would horrify you - 20 words to memorise and recite against the clock in front of the class every week. Times tables backwards, sideways upside and down. Reading with mummy (as she would not have a job of course) each bed time"

I think I am a similar age to Ta1kinpeece, and was at primary school in the 1960s. The education I received was very similar to the above.

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