Day in the life - Ross Mountney

19th September 2008 at 01:00
Keen to protect her children from what she sees as a toxic education system, Ross Mountney has chosen to educate them at home

My two girls have chosen to learn at home, but when I think that millions of children are in school, working towards qualifications, I sometimes wonder if I'm doing the right thing. I quit teaching at the end of the Eighties because I felt education was becoming a political tool. I have been home educating my daughters for the past eight years. It's different from being a teacher - I'm here to encourage, not instruct.

First job of the day is getting Chelsea, my eldest daughter, off to college. She's just started a BTEC in performing arts, one subject you can't do at home. Then I spend time with Charley, who's 15. She's working on waves and the sea, and we talk about areas to investigate.

The work is similar to GCSE geography, but she's doing it because she wants to, not because it's been forced on her. She's a keen scuba diver, so she sees the relevance. I point her towards websites and leave her to it. Standing over her wouldn't be good for anyone's sanity, and I have my own work to do - I'm writing a book about home education.

After lunch, we head off on an ecology field trip, for home-educating families from across Lincolnshire. People think home-schooled children are stuck in the house all day, but it's actually the opposite. I'm always taking Charley to events such as this, or to galleries and museums.

While the children identify insects, I talk to other parents. Today I meet someone whose son is going to university, despite not having done GCSEs. It's reassuring for me.

When my husband gets home, we discuss Charley's programme for the next few days. She's free to follow her interests, but we try to ensure an overall balance.

I tell my husband about the field trip and how wonderful it was to see everyone working together, in mixed age groups, without peer pressure. It is a far more positive social experience than many children have in school.

Ross Mountney was talking to Steven Hastings.

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