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Our story began with the Education Act 1944, which instructed every parent to ensure that their child was educated ‘either by regular attendance at school or otherwise’. It was not until 1961, that the blindly determined Joy Baker won her ten year fight through the court system, to establish that education need not mean school.

The Education Act 1944

The Education Act 1944.

The children of the 1960s grew up in a world of counterculture and revolution. We marched for peace, screamed for the Beatles, our skirt hems went up and our elders said that our morals went down just as far. The hippy generation had arrived, alternative lifestyles emerged and for the pioneers, education would never be the same again.

Home Educated Children in the 1960s

Home Educated Children in the 1960s.

Home educating families started to meet informally, coming to the attention of Granada Television, which made a programme about the group in 1976 and group numbers rose to over 50.

In 1977, when ‘Saturday Night Fever’ led the fashion trend for shiny white suits and the Commodore PET was forging the way for the launch of the Commodore 64, Iris and Geoff Harrison with a small group of pioneering home educators, sat around a table and formed ‘Education Otherwise’. The BBC TV Open Door broadcast a programme about Education Otherwise and numbers rose to around 250.

A slide rule

Slide rules were common before the availability of electronic calculators.

Modern parents can hardly envisage home education in those early days, when 1980s brightly coloured shell suits, big hair, shoulder pads and spandex mini skirts were leading the fashion trends. Basic computers cost thousands of pounds, so we had no access to the internet. Books came mainly from the library, children were calculating on slide rules and hoping for a Swatch watch for Christmas. Meanwhile, home educating families contacted each other though the Education Otherwise member list.

Child with Commodore vic 20

Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0, original creator Michael Surran. Boy with Commodore vic 20.

Little changed during the 1990s, apart from crop tops, babydoll dresses over leggings and coloured jeans, but Education Otherwise continued to spread the word.

In the early 2000s most homes had computers and Education Otherwise was able to spread its message more widely. Then in 2009, the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, commissioned Graham Badman to review how local authorities interact with home educating families. This prompted a successful call to action, with Education Otherwise at the head of the charge to challenge the untrue assertions and recommendations he made. Membership rose significantly.

As time has gone on, Education Otherwise has been at the forefront of protecting parents’ rights to educate their children in the way that they wish. We have provided increasing support online and moved with the times; the trustees do not even wear flares and shell suits these days!

SpaceX Falcon Rocket

SpaceX Falcon rocket, a contemporary technological development.

This new website confirms our commitment to future home educating families and we look forward to you joining us.