Not Back To School

Construction at W5

This is the time of year when we welcome new home educators and reconnect with each other after a busy summer. The museums, parks and swimming pools are emptying during 'school hours', the classes and groups are starting up again and of course our Not Back To School celebrations are underway.

As always there is a packed programme this week, too much to do everything! From treetop adventures and museum trips, to gymnastic and sports taster sessions, and of course social meet ups of all sorts.

We wish you and your families a wonderful year, full of fun and learning! For the community as a whole we hope that the upcoming new guidance on home education and the consultation will be a positive step forwards towards greater trust between home educators and the Education Authority. 

To get involved we suggest that you join the HEdNI Facebook group to connect socially and find out about events.

NSKA Drama Group

Kids from the NSKA Drama group perform

Children from the 'No school kids allowed' drama group with Kids In Control marked the start of Summer with a workshop for friends and family. The sessions will begin again in September for home educated children of 11 and up.

HEdNI Singers to Join Peace Proms

Peace Proms 2017 - massed choir

We're delighted to be a part of the Peace Proms. We will be learning the songs at home and as part of our regular 'big sing' events with the lovely Kirsty who has arranged our participation. Our group will attend a workshop early next year and finally participate in the Peace Proms in 2018 as part of a choir of 3000 singers and a full orchestra.

Visit to Ulster Flying Club - by Myles Taylor

Visit to Ulster Flying Club- children with plane

On 11th May 2017 we visited the Ulster Flying Club in Newtownards. 

First Rodney showed us the Fire and Rescue pickup truck. The size of an airport dictates the size of the rescue squad. We saw the fire equipment. It was very interesting to see the aerator on the end of the hose’s nozzle which makes the white foam. 

The Election is on the way

Home education visit to Stormont

As we've all seen on the news the election is on the way and our politicians are gearing up to talk to us about what we care about.  

We are working now with the Education Authority to produce guidance on home education which we hope will be both legally accurate and constructive, but there is always the possibility that we may need the support of politicians - individually or as a community - one day in the future.

It is always worth educating and informing our MLAs about home education, and so we offer this sheet for your use on your doorstep.

So much happening!

Meet up at An Creagan in the woods

We have seen a real explosion recently in exciting groups, classes and opportunities for home educated children all over Northern Ireland.  From weekly themed meet ups, two swimming classes, drama, ice skating and parkour to museum trips, workshops and living history... and so much more.  Take a look at the events listed here!

Home education in Northern Ireland went through a difficult period in 2014 with the release of that ill-conceived draft policy and the worry and distrust that it stirred up... but we have come out of it stronger and closer and we are now reaping the rewards of having such an active and friendly community.

With work on the new guidance continuting in the Working Group we are hopeful that we will now be entering into a brighter period where our energies can go towards creating these amazing opportunities for our children, and providing them with an excellent education.  Good Guidance from the Education Authority will help to create a strong basis for trust and respect for home education in Northern Ireland.

Much improved guidance from DHSSPSNI

We welcome the changes made to the guidance on Co-operating to Safeguard Young People, and the way in which our concerns have clearly been heard and addressed.

The new guidance can be found here:

The section on home education now reads

"Elective Home Education is the term used when a parent chooses to provide education for their child at home instead of enrolling them in school as provided for under Article 45 of the Education and Libraries (Northern Ireland) Order 1986. There is currently no legal requirement for parents to notify the Education Authority (EA) of their intention to home educate. However, in accordance with the Registration and Attendance of Pupils Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1974, the EA must be notified by a school when a child of compulsory school age who has been enrolled in a school has been deregistered to be Electively Home Educated.

 The EA is currently developing new procedures and arrangements to help parents who home educate and to encourage them to seek support. These procedures are being informed by a consultation exercise that took place during 2014. The procedures will be set within the existing legislative framework. 

As with children enrolled as pupils in a school, if any safeguarding concerns become evident, they must be referred to the appropriate authorities.  "

We believe that accurate and clear guidance within the law will help professionals in working with those young people who are in need of their assistance.

Congratulations Benji!

Benji with his certificates

Many congratulations to Benji for doing so well at the Ulster School's Chess Championships.  Benji is home educated and has discovered a real passion for chess, we are very proud of him.

Another Year of Consultatation Draws to A Close

NSKA HEdNI Drama Group Christmas Performance
Making Gift Tags at the North Down Christmas Co Op

When the draft policy first emerged last April as (apparently) a single local consultation under the NEELB we had little sense of how long and hard we would have to work to prevent the damage it promised... and there’s no end in sight yet!  Over the last year and a half we have been encouraged and touched by the open-mindedness, interest and support of so many people and organisations - to them we give our most heartfelt thanks. 

We are pleased to be told that the Education Authority 'do not intend to progress this draft' and we have been told that they would like us to be involved in the working group for the next round... what we haven't yet seen is a formal announcement that the draft is no longer under consideration, or a statement that they do not actively seek a similar scheme for the future.  

We do not hope for an apology, or want someone to be scapegoated for the dreadful errors in that draft, but we do need some sort of assurance that lessons have been learned from the experience.  It is essential that we move towards a better relationship with the Authority from a firm evidential and legal basis, and we cannot do that while we suspect that they hope to correct the procedural errors of the consultation process, rather than the fundamental problems with the project.

Launch of new group for Christian Home Educators in Northern Ireland

This new group was created for those who consider themselves Christians ( of all denominations or none at all ) who are already or have an interest in Home Educating their children.  It has been set up for friendship, support and to arrange meet ups and activities together.  "We are not here to judge or persuade other of our way of thinking but just to encourage each other as we do our best to bring up our children in faith."

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