Coronavirus: 'I'm not sending my son back to school'

By Emma Clifford Bell
BBC Scotland The Nine

  • Published
Media caption,
12-year-old Aedan from Aberdeenshire is not returning to the classroom

Most children across Scotland have returned to the classroom but 12-year-old Aedan from Aberdeenshire is not one of them. He will continue to be taught at the kitchen table by mum Cheryl.

She told BBC Scotland's The Nine programme: "We had never considered home education before lockdown but we realised that Aedan was happier, more engaged and producing a better quality of work.

"Lockdown just gave us an opportunity to see something that we just couldn't see before."

At high school, Aedan felt uncomfortable and his anxiety was having an impact on his learning. He would often compare how quickly he finished work with classmates.

Image caption,
Aedan will not be going back to school

The 12-year-old said he was relieved to not have to go back.

"I felt as if a weight came off my chest," he said.

"It just felt so much better than having to go to school. It was really stressful going there and at the end of the day, you'd be so exhausted. I don't have that here because it's just me."

However, his nine-year-old sister Kinvara will not be leaving school to join him.

Cheryl said her decision was "child specific".

"The social side of things is really important to her and she was very much looking forward to getting back." she said.

'Many resources out there'

Cheryl, who works as a childminder and swimming coach, said she was excited but slightly nervous at the change for Aedan.

"We did ask whether we were going mad considering this," she said.

"Of course, there is an element of being worried that I'm not going to be as good as his chemistry teacher or his maths teacher but there are so many resources out there to help."

It is difficult to estimate the total number of home-educated children in Scotland but several councils have noticed a recent increase in applications to withdraw pupils from school - including Edinburgh, Falkirk and Clackmannanshire.

Image caption,
Aedan, mum Cheryl, dad Richard and sister Kinvara

South Ayrshire council has had a 33% increase in requests compared with last year - with 32 children now educated at home.

One local authority said some of the requests were due to the perceived success of the home education experience during lockdown but there could also be other reasons.

Cheryl says there are a lot of pre-judgements about home schooling.

"There's no right or wrong path, it's about whatever works for your child and your family," she said.

"Learning doesn't happen between 9pm and 5pm, it happens all week, and you take the opportunities to teach as they come up.

"We live in a beautiful part of Scotland and that stimulates learning and conversations. Aedan's definitely someone who is going to be benefiting from that freedom."

Image caption,
Aedan will be home educated by mum Cheryl

Aedan thinks the home-educating experience will bring him and his mother closer.

"I'm sure there will be times that we'll annoy each other, a lot," he said. "But we'll get over it and it will just be a great bonding experience for the both of us."

A keen gymnast, he said he would not be spending all his time with his mum and plans to regularly meet up with friends at the park and online.

"They're going to miss me but they are all really supportive and told me to go for it," he added.