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Educational Philosophies. 







What is an Educational Philosophy?


An educational philosophy is the thinking behind your educational provision to your child. This might include examples of what you do or how you do things to help a local authority to understand your approach.


Why write an educational philosophy?


Many home educators write an educational philosophy as part of their response to local authority enquiries into their home education. It is a good idea to have one for your own purposes, but it is also a good idea because the authority must respect the philosophy and beliefs of the parents in the provision of education to children. The written philosophy of the parents, therefore, provides a framework in which to consider the suitability of the provision made for those children and can prevent the authoritiy from trying to apply methods or standards that are not appropriate to your situation. 


Educational Philosophy/Report


Some home educators respond to local authority enquiries by means of a written philosophy. This can be combined with a list of resources used, an account of the educational provision or a report, or any other reasonable form of response that the family chooses. Each family, when responding to enquiries from the local authority, will decide what they are comfortable with and how much information constitutes that which is sufficient to convince a reasonable person, on the balance of probabilities only, that there is no appearance of failure to provide a suitable education to a child. Perhaps you already have a fully developed ed phil, or you might like to explore what others have done to kick start your own thinking. In any case we offer below some examples of educational philosophies or written responses that have been accepted by local authorities.


Ed Phils.


(1) Autonomous Christian Education:


October 2007



Educational Philosophy





This description of the educational philosophy and approach to elective home-based education in the (S Family) has been prepared in response to general enquiries from (N Local Authority) concerning the educational provision for the children of the family.   


We are fulfilling our responsibility and legal duties towards our children in relation to the Education Act 1996, section 7, which requires that we ensure the children receive an education that is efficient, full-time and suitable to their age, ability and aptitude, and to any special educational needs they may have. In law, it is the sole responsibility of parents to ensure the suitable education of their children.

As you will be aware, ‘efficient’ education has been established in case law as an education that achieves what it sets out to achieve.



Protocol Two of the Human Rights Act establishes that parents have the right to educate their children in accordance with their own philosophy. We set out this educational philosophy as a frame of reference and a guide to principles and ideas that must be respected in the provision of education for our children.



Our Philosophy:



We view the drive to learn as a natural part of life intrinsic to each person. It is spontaneous and inseparable from daily living. Anything, therefore, that could cause our children to become self-conscious about their learning as an area requiring special attention or concern, such as accounting for their education to others is viewed as an impediment to independent intrinsic learning and is therefore not practised.  For example, we do not use formal assessments requiring our children to prove to us the levels of their achievement, unless this is something a child has requested for their own reasons. It is never something originating from a source external to the child as we believe this would distort and interfere with their process of learning and is therefore detrimental to their learning. Rather, we engage with the children continually, taking delight in what they will share, and we observe that the children are continuing to fulfil their learning desires avoiding all artificially or externally imposed standards, ideas or systems.


Our aim is that, by the practice of autonomy in daily life, the children fulfil this natural drive and become self directed, independent and efficient learners of those things that they wish and need to learn in order to follow their interests and objectives. As the central protagonists of their own learning, it is the desires and actions of the children that dictate the direction of their education. For example, learning to read when they are ready and wish to, or learning to save and handle money to fulfil their plans and desires. 



We believe that learning is a creative and personal process occurring in the mind and soul and can, therefore, only belong to the individual. This process must be respected. As a result we have developed a child-led and child-centred approach in which the education of the children and any product thereof is the entire possession of the child concerned, resulting from and for their own satisfactions and not to please the needs of others. The children are in control of their learning. We, as their parents, see ourselves as responsible to assist and facilitate where required. This is our mode of living. Consequently, the education is full time and tailored to the particular age, ability and aptitude of each child. Pressure to fulfil objectives not related to the children’s own aims would distort and restrict the children’s development and interfere with their natural learning process. For this reason we avoid externally derived plans, tests, timetables or other impositions and expectations except in so far as the children might choose them for a particular purpose of their own such as the wish to gain a specific qualification for entry to higher education or as a vocational requirement, or if led by interest alone to follow a specific approach to academic study in a formal context. This means we cannot always predict what will be learned in any detail, but we witness the learning process in action and can verify that it is happening. Any end product from the children’s learning or self expression, (for example such as may be described as a piece of ‘work’ if the children were schooled and used for assessment purposes,) is the sole possession of the child, created by them and for their own purpose and must be respected as such. We feel strongly concerning the status of the intellectual property of our children. 


We are also influenced by our Christian faith, particularly by the principle of a God given and independent free will, the tenderness and respect for the desire of children to learn exampled by Jesus Christ, and those passages that exhort parents to mentor their children and not to cause them to be discouraged.


It is as a result of these deeply held ideas and beliefs that we avoid coercion and employ an approach to education that falls into the category of “Autonomous” Education Philosophies based on respect for the intrinsic motivation of the individual. This is a long accepted and proven method of education with excellent results. As an example, Prof Roland Meighan’s* research acknowledges the superior effectiveness of “purposive conversation” (a common factor in autonomous learning practice,) in comparison to other widely used methods for teaching and learning. Although this learning research is more recent, we note in addition the Biblical examples of this naturally occurring and interactive way of sharing information and ideas, where parents are exhorted to reason and to talk to their children and discuss everything in their homes, as they go about their lives, and before they settle down for the night. 


The environments best suited to provide for this kind of approach to the needs of our children are the family and home, the extended family, the neighbourhood and the wider world in which they live their lives. We have therefore chosen to facilitate the education of our children outside the school system and within the family and wider community.  


In conclusion, our approach is based upon the utmost respect and care of the God given, intrinsic, motivation of the individual and the intention to facilitate the fulfilment of those natural drives to develop understanding and knowledge within the context of family and community, so that our children will become efficient and self-directed learners fitted to live usefully in modern society. To carry out these ideas we provide a rich and varied environment using resources available both within the home and in the world at large, helping the children to achieve their aims and sharing with them what is precious and meaningful to us daily. 


We have included a list of some of the resources we have used as an example of the sort of tools we might employ in our chosen way of living and learning together. 


We have included a report to give you a reasonably comprehensive understanding about the current education and interests of each child. This, we believe, is more than sufficient or required to convince a reasonable person that there is no appearance of a failure to provide a suitable education for these children. 


 (signed by Mr. and Mrs. S.)




*(Professor Roland Meighan D.Soc.Sc., Ph.D., B.Sc.(Soc), LCP., Cert. Ed. FRSA, is a leading thinker, publisher, and author of Education Now and Educational Heretics Press. He has written and presented extensively across the world. His booklist is too numerous to list but includes A Sociology of Educating with Iram Siraj-Blatchford, Continuum Books (4th Edition. 5th with Prof Clive Harber pending) IBSN 0-8264-6815-2. His latest work is “Comparing Learning Systems: the good, the bad, the ugly and the counter-productive.” (Educational Heretics Press, ISBN 1-900219-28-X.)




(the reports on the children have not been included in full. For information, some extracts are included (*)  Information about resources the family provided are included below, however, the report pointed out that it is unreasonable and impractical to try to list fully all the resources the average family use either from their own resources or within the community.


*Child A (14) studied in the last six months:

Art and the Arts


Human Biology

Computer skills


Maths (personal accounts)


Current Affairs



Personal plans for the future



The children are encouraged to be self-directed. A’s reading is extensive and it is certainly entirely self managed and directed. It would be impractical to try to list her full recent reading interests from books, magazines and the internet. However, some of which we are aware in the last few weeks, because we have observed, or she has shared include:


How to Draw Heads and Portraits

Anime and Manga Art

The Merlin Conspiracy, Diana Wynne Jones

Conversations With Children, R.D Laing

Prophecy, David Seltzer

Suzanne’s Diary for Nicolas, James Patterson (twice)

Slugs, Shaun Hutson

Spot of Bother, Mark Haddon

Curious Incident of the dog in the Night time, (again) Mark Haddon

From “My Story” Series Collection: The Bloody Tower,  “Diary of Hilly Middleton 1553 – 1559”

“Holy Horrors – The Enigmatic Gargoyle” National Trust Magazine, Autumn 2007





In the last year, two of (A's) favourite authors have completed series forcing (A) to look for other materials. These were JK Rowling Harry Potter series, and Lemony Snicket, whose Series of Unfortunate Events in thirteen books was a source of enormous hilarity and serious debate for a long time. 

downloaded units are:


English GCSE

Psychology GCSE

Philosophy A level

Biology GCSE

Business Studies GCSE




*Child B (12) studied in the last six months:



Biblical studies both at home and in church where (B) is involved in worship and following instruction in the adult services.

climbing group

martial arts,

ice skating

being in the natural world



Collecting and making “Warhammer” models

budgeting and planning,

reading about collections, collecting, building, painting models and scenery and playing the game. 



history and battle strategy









Future Plans










*Child C (10) studied in the last six months:


sporting and social activities.




gym group

climbing group

ten-pin bowling, ice-skating, free-running, skateboarding and riding his bike.




Art and crafts







Religious education



Child C's list of current reading, (dictated):


“The books and magazines I like to read at the moment …



Toxic cheats “Cheats for all the coolest consoles!”

Horrible Science, Explosive Experiments,

Sponge Bob Square Pants comics,

The Guinness Book of World Records, 2007 (Sometimes I don’t read it coz it has freaky stuff in it!)

The Dangerous Book for Boys

The Boys book of How to be the Best at Everything

Trust Tracks 39*

Toy catalogues for Christmas,

Choosing the Right Dog for You,

Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator,

Now you can read – Stories from the Bible, and

Readers digest children’s book of the Bible in Stories,

“WarHammer” 40,000 – Chaos space Marines Codex Book,

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows with my Mum.

 That’s all the books I’m reading.”


*Trust Tracks is a newsletter for young members of the National trust. This issue is about autumn with articles about various topics including fungi, shared with (B).








We have a wide range of resources collected for our use over the years.  It would be impractical to list so we have attempted to give an idea here.



My husband and I are both keen readers and so we have a large selection of books from our joint collection and to this has been added the children’s books since they were born. These cover many topics from classic and modern poetry and literature to biography, reference books in science, history, geography and English for example. We also take magazines regularly such as the National Geographic Kids, which both of the boys enjoy but is a particular favourite for (C).


Our resources include personal computers with the usual programmes to enable all the children like to do, including desktop publishing and printing, paint and paint pro for art work, games, social networking and internet access,



a range of Cdroms, 

Radio, TV, dvd etc.,



board games,

garden games,


globe and maps,


art and craft materials

Musical instruments and collections of written music

Collection of recorded music

 Pocket Kits (Science): Water








 Magnets and other basic science kits


 Cdroms from Dorling Kindersley in various subjects such as children’s encyclopedia



Some recently accessed resources if not included elsewhere in the text or in the above list:

Experiments with Magnets including “separating materials.”

Pocket Science Lab – make a volcanic eruption (chemical reactions.)

                                    Copper plate a nail

DK “I Love Maths!” Cdrom for ages 7 – 11

New Atlas of the Solar System (Dorling Kindersley Cdrom.)

“Become a British Isles Explorer’” Interactive Cdrom

"Teaching You Art” Series Cd rom – “How to Draw” 

3D Arts and Crafts – interactive Cdrom

Photo Studio, 2nd edition 



Recent educational visits have included:


The Workhouse (National Trust Property.)

(Town) Museum and Art Gallery 




Cilgerran Castle, Pembrokeshire,

Pembroke Castle,

Cardigan Castle Walls, Cardigan

St Dogmael’s Abbey, Cardigan




The village of North Queensferry, covering domestic architecture, industrial and religious history

Forth Road Bridge

Forth Rail Bridge

Culross, covering Scottish domestic architecture and industrial history of Culross; bonded workers (until 1799!) restrictions of movement and trade etc Politics, trade and industry

Culross Palace (National Trust Property.)

Deep Sea World; covering environment, environmental sciences, politics.

St Margaret’s Cave; covering religious studies, history, politics

Dunfermline Abbey and Palace






(2) Outline of educational provision




(J) aged 11:



In providing J with a home based education in a safe, secure environment, I ensure she gains an educational balance of academic, artistic and practical activities based on the wide variety of subjects she chooses.


My personal aim is to ensure that J has the confidence and knowledge to source and utilise whatever materials she needs to achieve an independent lifestyle that is nourishing mentally and physically both for herself and others.


I assist J to achieve the goals she sets in her educational interests in whichever way is appropriate to the subject she is studying. If necessary, I help her source materials using the internet, stores, libraries, museums etc and enable her to draw on the support and expertise of friends and family and that of specialists through workshops and visits to places of interest such as museums, galleries etc.


The core educational subjects incorporate themselves naturally into the fields she studies and these are reinforced by writing to friends and relatives and by making, producing and burning to disc videos that she then posts on our blog.


English is very much multi sourced from again the computer/console games, to reading, choosing books, searching for books on subjects of interest, library membership and more.


J enjoys learning about other countries and their cultures. She is learning useful foreign language phrases, and investigating the customs, cultures and the geographical aspects of numerous countries.


J benefits from plenty of opportunities to put into practice much of what she learns in her life.  She helps to plan the household shopping, working out costs and is learning to budget to cover other expenses.  She enjoys shopping independently locally, sourcing produce and products in the supermarkets and calculating the cost accurately.


She is learning to cook and to sew, which as well as being extremely useful skills are a very practical way of learning maths, using scales etc to weigh and measure ingredients and measuring, cutting out and stitching clothing. These activities are backed up by educational interactive computer/ console games, calculators etc.  A typical example of the goals J sets herself was progressing from helping in the assembly of flat pack to self-selection and assembly of her own volition.


J is very interested in all areas of nature and recently we were invited to (  ) marine biological centre who gave J an insight into the marine life in the area and how to study it. We are also members of (  ) country centre using it as a source for field study and information and she will be joining their ranger group when it meets over the winter season.


J has attended gymnastic classes and scuba diving and we swim on a regular basis, she is a capable swimmer, we also cycle and she has mastered towing a dog trailer.

J has settled well into her new community and has established a core group of friends who she meets and plays/interacts with on a daily basis. She attends local Sunday school and social groups where she has established meaningful relationships with young people and adults who provide a source of knowledge on the local history as well as interacting with them conversationally on a variety of subjects e.g. gardening, canoeing and local resources.


We are members of a Home Education Association and make use of Internet groups for support and information about outings and get-togethers. This has enabled us to participate in group activities and establish new friendships amongst other home educators, not just within our own region but further a field.


We have access to a wide range of resources, which at the moment include: computers, television, kitchen accessories, writing, craft and wood/metalwork tools (including a multi-tool for engraving/stonework) and various science accessories (which include a microscope, telescope and construction kits).


We also make full use of museums, sports centres, libraries, country centre, local businesses etc.












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