Memorandum submitted by Myrna Tennant



I am writing an open letter and sending it to you and others, because I want to let the government and other people know how I feel about the recommendations made by Mr Graham Badman in his report of Elective Home Education.


My name is Myrna Tennant, I'm fourteen and I'm Home Educated. My mother works from home as a book translator and my father is a stay-at-home dad.

I moved to England when I was seven because it is very difficult to Home Educate in the Netherlands, you need to go to court to get exemption.

School was never the right choice for me, and it definitely wasn't the right choice for my older brother, who has Aspergers Syndrome. Because of this mild form of autism he was left out and bullied at his school by the other students and was singled out by the teachers, who never even bothered to try to get to know and understand him.

My mother pulled us out of school for mainly that reason.

We held it out in Holland for a while, but it was a very big fuss and we were frowned upon by a lot of people who didn't agree with Home Education.

So we decided to move to England, the homeland of my father.

We lived in Penton (Cumbria) for five years. In that time my sister, the eldest of my two siblings, started a job in a nearby Bed & Breakfast and my brother and I went to Archery, while he also went to Judo and Cadets and I started private music lessons and group drama classes. Through these activities and the Home Educators meetings we went to weekly, we met a lot of great people, some of whom are now my closest friends and through whom I also met a lot of other amazing people.

We moved to Carlisle two years ago which was a great change for all of us, moving me and my siblings closer to our friends and activities, and making it easier for my sister to get a good job.


These days, we have recently been approved for child fostering, my sister works full-time for Mencap after having finished college, and has just found her own place to live. My brother is studying Jujitsu together with my father after passing his GCSE's with flying colours (with the help of our part time private tutor in Science, Biology and Maths) and will soon be joining the army. I have now been a classical singer for five years and am soon taking my grade seven exam in singing and my grade five in theory, and I also play flute and guitar. I have sang at a wedding and frequently get asked to sing solo at concerts. I spend my days going to my music lessons, singing with my lovely choir, doing art and spending time with my friends, band and boyfriend. I plan to start studying Japanese and join my brother and father in Jujitsu and will also be taking my GCSE's when I feel I'm ready to do so.


So you see, we're just like any other normal family. I have the best family, friends and boyfriend I could have ever wished for and I wouldn't change my life for the world. Of course we have our rough times and I have had my unpleasant experiences in life, but what person hasn't? Life can not be lived without regrets; only a person who is truly ignorant and arrogant could say he's never done anything he regrets.


So before you make assumptions about autonomous learning and invade people's privacy and their homes and sit kids down to talk about if they really want to be Home Educated, why not think about why you are really doing this? Or maybe you could even consider going to a school and asking the kids there how they enjoy school? I have a lot of friends who go to school and I don't often hear nice things about it. What I hear about school is how teachers no longer enjoy what they do, kids are only bored and take nothing in anymore, they rebel, they bully and they stereotype. They divide themselves up into groups and don't let anyone else in who doesn't go by a certain way.

And this takes effect on how kids act outside of school. Some of my friends may fit some people's opinion of the stereotype "emo" or "scene" or "goth", and therefore I have often had people shout insults at me and my friends, and even had things thrown at me for absolutely no reason but the way we dress or the music we enjoy. I even sometimes get bullied for being a classical singer.


And that is what the government is doing to the Home Educators, they are singling them out and treating them like there's something wrong with them, just because of the decision to keep their child out of school, even if on many occasions that choice is made because the child is bullied in school, like my brother was. And therefore we get treated differently, badly. All that the government is doing is stereotyping and putting labels on things, just because they have the power to. The government are just bullies in the way that they use their superiority as a way of belittling people, while they could be using it for so much better things.

Instead of making everything cosy for yourselves, how about giving some thanks and support to the people who serve in the forces.


How about doing something about the homeless, the sick, and the children who are actually being abused?

Of course, I will not deny that there is a chance some people could use Home Education as a cover, but think about how little parents abuse their children, and then think about the percentage of those people who could be Home Educators. Will you really use that small amount of people to change the law for tens of thousands?

The only reason you're saying that Home Education is a cover for child abuse is so you will get more people on your side for campaigning against it, because you don't agree with it because it doesn't fit in with your idea of perfect.

Well, the world is just not perfect is it?


It's going to take a lot more than petty assumptions to make us back down, we fight for our rights, like any other person would.

We fight to keep things as they are now. There is no need for changes, there is a good law that protects people who need protecting. And we will protect the law that allows us to Home Educate and do Autonomous Education.


Government, spend your money on things that make a difference for the better. Start making things, stop breaking things.


August 2009