- Amy and Ella Meek taken out of school for year-long educational tour of UK
- Parents Tim and Kerry sold their house and will teach children on the road
- Journey to include visits to landmarks like Stonehenge and Hadrian’s Wall
- Couple took decision after becoming disillusioned with the school system
- But they are not unhappy with the school their children were attending
- The trip will cover around 20,000 miles and is expected to cost up to £20,000
Parents disillusioned with the school system have sold their house and pulled their children out of classes – to take them on a year-long educational road trip of the UK in a caravan.
Amy and Ella Meek, aged 11 and nine, will attend ‘road school’ supervised by their mother and father who are both teachers from Arnold, Nottingham.
The girls will swap classrooms and formal tests for trips to castles, museums and libraries up and down the country.
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Tim, and Kerry Meek, pictured, have taken their children Amy (right), 11, and Ella (left), nine, out of school for a year-long educational road trip
The trip, which will take at least a year, will take in the likes of Stonehenge, the Scilly Isles and salmon rivers in Scotland
The trip, which will take at least a year, will take in Stonehenge, the Scilly Isles and salmon rivers in Scotland.
Father Tim and mother Kerry quit their jobs and sold their house to fund the trip, which will cover up to 20,000 miles.
Most schoolchildren are now back at school facing a controversial new National Curriculum which requires five-year-olds to learn fractions and pupils in early secondary school to study Shakespeare.
But the Meek family are in Peterborough where lessons include a science project looking at the mechanics of a trebuchet – a type of catapult used in the Middle Ages.
Mr Meek, who quit his role at Derrymount Special School, Arnold, Nottingham, said: ‘Children are not sausages in a sausage factory to be pumped full of facts and content ready for regurgitation at the end of some arbitrary Key Stage, when they take high-stakes assessments.
‘We’ve given ourselves a minimum of an academic year but we are realistic and we know the girls will return to school at some point.
Mr and Mrs Meek, pictured with their daughters, quit their jobs and sold their house to fund the trip, which will cover up to 20,000 miles
For the girls’ first day of ‘road school’ on Monday, they visited historic Warwick Castle in Warwickshire (pictured)
‘It’s one of those things that’s scary and people say you are brave, or silly. One thing we do know is that it’s going to be a year to remember.’
The 45-year-old stressed that he and wife Kerry, 39, were not unhappy with staff at the school, or at Richard Bonington Primary and Nursery in Arnold, Nottingham, where the girls attended.
‘Education is becoming overly dominated with tests, assessments and targets, at the expense of rich, engaging and enjoyable learning,’ said Mr Meek, who has budgeted to spend £20,000 on the trip.
EDUCATION ON THE ROAD: THE MEEK FAMILY CURRICULUM
Natural Fit – exercise/ activity outdoors
Daily Gratitudes – an informal task over breakfast
Thinking skills task or morning discussion sparked from ‘Thought for the Day’
Maths lesson, vocabulary work and shared reading (reading to/with a parent)
365 Project work – project aiming to generate and publish 365 five-minute outdoor activities for children to try at home.
Moral Maze – discussion/ debating skills
Computer Science – programming and app making
Extended writing – for a real audience/purpose
Cross-curricular project work based on our current location
Shared watching and discussion based on a TED Talk. Discussion based around topic and content, as well as presentation skills
Hadrian’s Wall, pictured, is also on the family’s itinerary in the year-long tour
Music session: theory, practical, performance
Greentime Guerrillas – a kid-led movement to promote outdoor time.
News Round(up) – picking-up on topical news (UK and world)
Physical Exercise: a decent walk, cycle, swim (occasional wild swim)
Book Club – analysis / discussion/written response tasks to a book the children have studied
Creative thinking project – problem finding and problem solving
Media literacy skills working towards creation and publication of podcasts, vodcasts and short videos
‘Big’ adventure – weekend challenge – kayaking, canoeing, cycling, sailing, hiking, bivvy-bagging, camping
Bushcraft – Scouting-type activities
Enterprise project that raises money for an agreed charity
Substantial design technology project
Speak as a family at an adventure festival or school promoting the family adventure
Amy is looking forward to what the family have labeled an ‘ed-venture’.
She said: ‘In school we were having tests all the time. We’d read from a book and just repeat it.
‘We are going to have more freedom now and we’ll still learn the important things like English and maths.’
The Meeks insist they don’t blame teachers, schools or even local authorities for their disenchantment with conventional schooling.
Instead they say Government policies do not cater for the day-to-day needs of children and that youngsters are taught simply to pass exams.
The family plan to travel around the UK taking in scores of destinations including the Isles of Scilly, pictured
The Meeks, pictured in front of their caravna, insist they don’t blame teachers, schools or even local authorities for their disenchantment with conventional schooling
The Meeks, pictured, have shown their adventurous side in the past and last year set their daughters a challenge of completing 50 new outdoor activities in 12 months
The 11-year-old added: ‘I always felt like I was working towards a test. I had my SATs last year and we were reminded about them almost every day. It’s like we just read from the book and repeated it for the test.’
The Meeks have shown their adventurous side in the past and last year set their daughters a challenge of completing 50 new outdoor activities in 12 months.
For the girls’ first day of ‘road school’ on Monday, they visited historic Warwick Castle.
Mr Meek added: ‘We used the visit to Warwick Castle as the stimulus and asked the girls what questions they wanted answering. It’s more engaging because they’re inside the fascinating castle walls.’
The girls were then set assignments to follow-up the trip and asked to carry out some educational research.
Mike Fortune-Wood, of Home Education UK, said pupils taught outside of school tended to fare better than state school students.
On the road: The family have set off from Arnold in Nottinghamshire and have already taken in trips to Warwick Castle and Peterborough
They will also take in Stonehenge during the tour. The children are likely to return to school after the ‘ed-venture’
He said: ‘Home schooling is easier in many ways because it’s one-on-one. The children don’t waste hours listening while the teacher explains something to 30-odd other kids in the class. They can go at their own pace.’
One criticism of home schooling is that children don’t get as much social interaction with their peers.
Ella, nine, said she was already missing her friends – although she thinks they would love to be doing what she is.
‘I’m trying not to think about leaving my friends,’ said Ella.
‘But I think most of them would like to be exploring castles instead of sitting at a desk at school.’
‘It’s easy to keep in touch,’ added Amy.
‘I will miss my friends but we have social media and things like Skype to keep in contact. It’s not like we’re never coming back to Nottingham – we will visit.’
Edwina Theunissen, trustee at home schooling support charity Education Otherwise, said: ‘Travel is an education in itself. Home schooled children often find it easier in situations with adults because they are being talked to by those adults on a one-to-one basis.’