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Just look at the dust and cobwebs!

Has it really been nearly three years since I last posted to this blog? How time flies!

Looking back at those old posts full of battles with national government and SCC it doesn’t seem like it was that long ago, but I guess it is. Three years of peace and quiet and being allowed to get on with the day to day business of home educating without feeling we have to justify ourselves to anyone. Bliss.

I don’t plan on blogging here regularly but the site clearly needs a serious spring clean. There are broken links on the HE Groups page and things like the HE News page is so, so old that I might just rename it as an archive.

The magic age of 7

Having been fairly autonomous in our HE journey so far, it has at times been fairly nerve wracking, wondering whether we were really doing the right thing, when we saw all our sons school going peers producing their “handwriting” and reading words (slowly but surely) and our son just not showing any interest in “learning”.  However now we have hit that magic age of 7 - the age that Steiner thought that children were ready to learn, it has all paid off.  Within the last 6 months our son has suddenly picked everything up - seemingly without trying.

He is now reading all the time - including HUGE words that I cant believe that he knows, his writing is coming on a dream, he is choosing to draw pictures, and he is swimming amazingly (having turned round one day and stated he didnt need his float jacket anymore, jumped in the pool and was off like a fish)

 Hopefully this means that I will be a lot more relaxed as babe grows up!

 So to all those people that are having a nervous wobble (yep we all have them) then have faith, they do seem to suddenly pick it up and run with it.

Houses of Parliament

I wouldn’t normally post after a trip but we all had such a good time last week that I thought I’d share the day with those of you who couldn’t attend.

Some years ago my mother-in-law did a tour of the Houses of Parliament and raved about how wonderful it was. She went as a paying member of the public, during the summer when MPs were as rare as hen’ s teeth.So when I discovered that if you booked as an educational group, you could attend a workshop AND have a tour for free, it seemed too good to pass up.

The Houses of Parliament are familiar to everyone. We see them on the news all the time. I have often wondered exactly what is is that politicians do in those hallowed chambers, apart from filling expenses claims so visiting during term time was a good way to learn more.

We met at Portcullis House which is the newsest part of the Palace of Westminster. A modern glass and steel edifice with trees planted in the central atrium( see the government are green really) opened at the turn of the century for many zillions of pounds. After passing through the revolving doors and going through airport type security. You know, having your bags scanned, photos taken and ID pass produced.They did stop short of actually micro-chipping us. There was , as you might expect, a heavy armed police presence.Last time I saw that many armed police was over 20 years ago at Munich airport !

We were collected by a couple of members of staff and escorted to the room where our workshop was going to take place. We were booked to attend’Parliament Explained’ which showed how the three parts, Monarchy, Lords and Commons worked together to produce laws for the government of the land.Thankfully it was air-conditioned as Portcullis House acts in the same way as a greenhouse…

The lady leading the workshop gave us a power-point presentation then said that we were going to propose a new law and debate it. The room was set up in a similar fashion to the Chambers with rows of seating facing each other.The children decided to debate-’Should capitol punishment be re-instated for murder?’ ( so nothing controversial then !) They enjoyed standing up to adddress the speaker and calling upon their ‘Right Honourable Friends’. At the end we voted on the motion then pased it to the House of Lords where we debated it further and voted once more. It wasn’t carried !

I think the parents were probably more militant than the children !!   At the end of the session our MP Anne Milton came in for a Q&A session. We were lucky as MPs are often not in Westminster during workshops.Anne had to be because she was taking part in a debate later. The children were not at all phased by speaking with a politician ! One lad asked her what her greatest chievement, to date, was. She replied ‘Saving the RSCH from closure’. Then, in a very sweet moment, one of our younger members turned to her and said.’So Mrs Milton what do YOU think about Home Education ? Do you think it is a good idea ? Because sometimes in school the teacher’s don’t understand you’

The reply was very slick-’I think that children should be educated where they learn best’. A typical politician’s answer.She then went on to add that her sister, whilst in Niger, had taught her three children at home and that the youngest had pased 4 A levels at the age of 15years. I rest my case.

After that we went on our tour of the Houses of Parliament. Be prepared to run as the guides keep to a strict timetable and th Palace is vast. We went underneath the road, through a tunnel, pausing briefly at the door to Big Ben’s tower before rushing on, up countless flights of stairs to the House of Commons chamber. Here you have to hand all your possessions over. We crept in and sat ( behind bullet -proof glass) in the public gallery.They were debating Swine Flu-topical and actually quite interesting, although the chamber was sparsely populated. After that we were whisked off to the Central Lobby, the bit where TV journalists always film. You would come here if you wanted to ‘lobby’ your MP about something ( or indeed lob something at your MP). It is mid-way between the House of Commons and House of Lords and rather like the interior of a church.

It was here that we saw Lord Seb Coe much to the delight of one of our party !!   He kindly held the door open for her-a never to be forgotten moment. Then it was off to the House of Lords. The House of Commons was rebuilt during the 1950s whereas the Lords is far older and grander. We went in and watched their debate for a while. It was something to do with tourism in rural areas and deadly boring. I am sure I saw someone nodding off on the benches. Then it was off to St Stephens Hall which used to be a chapel during the time of Henry VIII, then we finished up in Westminster Hall. Famous for being the place for lying-in-state of deceased monarchs. Westminster Hall is the only part of the HoP where photography is permitted and it is the oldest part. Built by William Rufus, the conquor’s son, although the roof is more recent !

So there you have it, footsore and weary we made our way back home. It had been a fabulous trip, too much to take in on one visit so we will definitely be going back in the future. The Palace of Westminster is an amazing place.The history seeps out from the walls and envelopes you.