It's no secret that my husband and I, have had serious doubts about the public education system, here in the UK, for some time now.
Having both attended public school in our youth, we had no qualms about letting our son do the same; however, that very quickly changed.
Kye was first enrolled in a preschool that was a part of the Primary school he would eventually be attending full time.
The school invited us to come and take a look around. We didn't expect there to be any problems, in fact, we expected it to be good.
The visit went well; the staff were nice the headmistress polite and friendly, the facilities good.
We were asked, how often we wanted Kye to attend preschool. We were unsure and said that it would depend on Kye because we didn't want to rush him into something so different and new, too quickly.
They then instructed us to put on the forms that he would attend every day, as then he could come in whenever we wished, and it would be funded.
It all seemed very laid back and relaxed, and that was exactly what we were looking for.
It started off well, Kye was excited to attend and happily went on the bus with the other kids and without any signs of fear. I; however, was not doing so well. I'd been ignoring some serious health concerns for a while and as a result had become pretty good at avoiding anything that forced me to face up to reality.
The twice daily commute to the bus stop, all too clearly highlighted just how bad things had become, as each time I attempted it, I was driven close to collapse and tears. An experience that was always followed by several days of agonising pain.
The result, Kye made it to preschool only one or two times a week. We knew it was time to address my back problems that had been gradually worsening since the epidural I'd had when Kye was born, but we figured we had time. After all this was preschool it wasn't mandatory, it was optional, and the school had assured us that Kye could attend as little or often as we liked.
So we set about getting my back sorted, it was bad and I would need to use a wheelchair ♿ or mobility scooter to go any distance greater than around my home,p or I'd risk damaging my back further. I wasn't keen on either.
Mobility scooters were for old people, and a wheelchair seemed even scarier. In the end, I would settle on the mobility scooter although eventually I'd be forced to use both, but even with the decision made it was going to take time to arrange. Sadly all the schools assurances what not quite so straight cut as they seemed.
One to two days, a week was not enough, and they badgered us incessantly. Frequently stating that when Kye was not there, they did not get the government's funding for him.
We were made to feel as if we were letting down both the school and our son and adding that to the struggle I was having with coming to terms with my disability, it all began to feel like too great a weight to bear.
The school; however, continued to persist in piling on the pressure, and it very quickly became apparent that it had more to do with money than them genuine wanting what was best for our son.
I fully believe that had they have received funding for him full time regardless of whether he were there or not, that they would not have harassed us as they did.
This as it turns out was nothing, the school hadn't even begun to show what it was fully capable of, and the worse would follow when Kye officially started full-time education.
My mobility scooter now acquired there was no longer any issues getting Kye to or from school, but things still didn't feel right.
Then one night, when the bus showed up, I was concerned to see my son coming down the steps, looking not quite right. As he got closer, it was clear he was shivering and worse that his lips were starting to have a bluish tinge to them.
On closer examination, it was clear that his school jumper and shirt beneath were wet through. It was a chilly day, and Kye being asthmatic made the whole thing that much scarier.
While one of the other mother's twittered her concern, all I could think was that I needed to get him home and fast.
Once home, I got him dry and did my best to get him warmed up quickly, but it was clear the damage had already been done. The school had sent my kid home in soaking wet clothes, and he was now fighting for breath.
That night Kye was rushed to the hospital, fighting for his life.
When the school was approached regarding the matter, they seemed to have little remorse and even tried to pass the blame to my 5 year old son, insisting that he was told that water play was not allowed at that time.
They further added that under normal circumstances Kye would have been given dry clothes to wear, but due to the time of day and that the bus was waiting, it was deemed impractical and I assume it was decided that the bus being on time was more important than my son's welfare.
My husband and I were furious, no one wants to see their son go through something like that, especially when it could have so easily been avoided and so we took it to the local paper.
At the time, we knew little to nothing about home education, beyond me thinking that it was an American thing and not something that really happened in the UK.
I wish I'd been savvy enough to find out more then, but I didn't and with promises from the school that no such thing would ever happen again, we reluctantly returned our son to their care.
I was really regretting our choice to live in such a rural location, where there was only one school option for someone like myself who could not drive, but I thought that if I kept him home we would get in serious trouble and incur a fine that we simply could not afford.
In short we felt trapped.
New problems quickly started to arise; I had no faith in the school. When they asked to send Kye for swimming lessons, I refused. No way was I trusting them to monitor anything that involved him getting wet.
When he was wheezy, no matter how slight, I couldn't bear to send him in, and soon the school were complaining about his rate of absence.
They eventually sent social services to our door because of this, but thankfully the social worker was very kind and could totally relate to our point of view. She assured us she would talk to the school and essentially get them to back off and give us time to recover from the damage done.
Flexi-school came into play. This was brilliant. It meant that when Kye was ill he could stay home and do work the school set, and that as long as he did the work, it would not count as him having been absent. For a few months this worked great and then the school announced the government had changed the rules and flexi-school was no longer allowed.
How true this was I still don't know as I have since seen people asking about flexi-school in some of the HE groups I'm a part of and others directing them to resources, which suggest flexi-school is still a reality, but I've not taken the time to check as it's pretty irrelevant now.
So with our faith in the school shattered, I did my best to slowly try to rebuild my trust in them. It was a slow process not helped by them twice losing my sons inhaler which they were meant to keep safe in the school office.
As if we hadn't been through enough Kye started to lose his joy for school and constantly made excuses to try and get out of going. It didn't take long for it to come out that he was being bullied. Now nearly 7 he was getting bullied on the bus, by some of the kids his own age.
When approached about this the school said that the bus was not their responsibility, but that they would talk to the boy in question.
A young girl would be sent flying off the bus and would smash her chin into the tarmac before anything was done.
For months everyday resulted in a fresh incident, a fresh wave of weeping kids exiting the bus.
On top of that the bus company had been changed and the new buses were a mess. Constantly breaking down and always late and the new driver couldn't careless what the kids were up to behind him. Yep this was why the bullying had begun and it wasn't going to stop in a hurry.
One boy in particular really gave Kye hell, so much so, that Kye ended up with a split lip after the boy smashed him in the face with a backpack and deep gouges in his arm when the boy attacked Kye with his finger nails.
We were furious, but still the school would not pull this kid from the bus. Even though Kye was not his only target.
Then Kye punched a boy in the face and suddenly he was admitted into the cool group and his behaviour both at home and school went seriously down hill.
He started stealing any thing and everything. Saying his new friends had dared him to do it. He was refusing to work at school and we were getting ever increasing calls from the school regarding some bad incident or other.
We were fed up and at our wits end. Where had we gone wrong and how could we fix it.
We called on some of our family for help and they had some great ideas and were incredibly supportive. Things would have been much harder without their help, but still Kye's behaviour continued to get worse.
With Kye not working at all when at school and constantly in trouble, we thought perhaps it was time to look for help outside the family.
We didn't know much about ADD or ADHD, but people were suggesting that maybe he had it.
Well, that turned out to be a no, but in the process of discovering it the school did something that helped instead of hindered for a change. They gave us an idea that helped to get Kye back in line, at least at home. At school he was still out of control.
By this time I had learned more about home education and knew it was indeed a viable option in the UK and in fact growing ever more popular and so I started to really research it. Finding out what it entailed and what you needed to do to deregister your child from school, as well as all the legal requirements.
Sick of our child being left to do nothing at school and getting nowhere we were close to taking the leap, but the final push came just before Easter, when yet again the school failed my son, by failing to report that his inhalers needed replacing until after they were already out of date.
That and hearing an ex teachers point of view on the public school system was all it took to make us take the final leap and so while kids everywhere were enjoying their Easter holidays we set about deregistering our son from school.
When the kids return to school tomorrow, my son will not be among them. Instead he'll be at home with me, actually learning something.
Are we nervous? Of course we are! But the public schooling system has done enough damage to our son, it's time he was educated by those who love him and will genuinely look out for him.
So please wish us luck as we start out on this new journey of discovery and if you home educate, please feel free to throw us some, tips, tricks or great resources.
I finally feel as if we are doing the right thing for our son, but only time will tell. One things for sure though, we couldn't do a worse job than his previous school.
Love and hugs all