There had been some mention of 'Waterloo Road' in the Home Ed e-group, about how the BBC1 school-based drama was to open the new series with a story-line involving two home educated children, about how prejudiced and ill-informed this was going to be, replaying a typical stereotype with no regard for truth. I wasn't sure if I wanted to watch, after all I have better things to do than deliberately let myself get wound up, but I didn't want to miss out on the ensuing discussions, so at 8pm last night I settled in front of the TV. Sure enough the portrayal of the home educating family was ridiculous, exaggerated and like no family I have ever come across in the Home Ed world. The children really were, in the words of one of the other pupils, 'home ed freaks'. However, the school seemed to have a staff of around 7, including the ex-pupil, pregnant, teen-aged Head's PA and the highly unprofessional and over-emotional Headmistress who, apparently, had nothing better to do than sit in her office and deal with naughty children who had been sent out of lessons for talking too much.
While the younger of the newly-integrated home ed siblings was determined to get herself expelled by making a smoke bomb in Biology and aggravating another student into assaulting her, the older lad was more philosophical. His turning point came when, while watching some other lads kicking a ball around, the Head drew alongside him and let him know that the way he could thank his dad for all his hard work was by "being your own person, doing your own thing." This inspired the boy to join in the football game, a symbol of his new found freedom from the shackles of his father. At the climax of the episode, this boy shouted at his dad, "you made us too different, like we were supposed to forget about having mates, going out, talking to girls."
One of my primary reasons for my educational choice, and I think many of the home ed mums I know would say the same, is to let my children discover and delight in who they are, to do their own thing, free from the shackles of imposed curricula and intense peer pressure. Part of that is meeting a wide variety of other children, experiencing all sort of places and, even, talking to girls! We spent yesterday hanging out in the Hampshire countryside with a crowd of other home ed families, playing, racing, riding tractors and enjoying ourselves. There were no families there remotely like the one the BBC would have the world believe we are. Although, I guess, if they did exist, somewhere, they would be locked away, indoors, on their own!