So far so good . .
We (Mark and Bev Adams) have home educated our four children in both Northamptonshire and Suffolk UK. Mark is a Design Technology teacher with a number of years of professional Product Design experience in industry. Mark taught for 15 years in three schools successfully leading a Design Technology department for his final four years. During his time in middle management the school achieved Technology Specialist Schools Status. The school received funding for a complete overhaul of the department which was then designated (under Mark's leadership) a 'Design' specialism with new courses in Product Design.
We took up the opportunity of renting a large refurbished barn in our small rural village to set up Time & Space Learning. At this time we were home educating two of our children who thrived better with the freedom to design their own educational program and self managed learning. Two of our children have attended degree courses, one in Ballet who was selected to dance at the 2012 Olympics with Darcy Bussell the other in Photography who now manages a studio in London. Of our boys one is an activities instructor and the other soon to leave for university to study media production.
In addition to our own children we provided STEM educational resources for other Home Educated children who came from as far as Harlow (S) Harwich (E) Cambridge (W) and Norwich (N) to our barn in mid Suffolk. Our first intake of Home Educators were from Norwich and Ipswich These were the originators of Thin0nauts. We enjoyed visiting lecturer Rex Garrod who was a local hero in Suffolk for Robot Wars and Brum!
We then recruited some older students from the local USAF airbase who formed Aer0nauts - rebuilding a Radio Controlled plane and eventually going on to enter the BMFA payload challenges.
We also opened to children with additional learning needs from local schools and to young adults from various training providers in Ipswich. Some came for three days per week, some one day and some for a limited daily session. We also ran a Saturday Laser club for which children came to make our huge variety of original kits and products. We were supported by local professionals including the late Rex Garrod father of 'Brum' and car designers from industry. We built and flew model aircraft at a local BMFA club field.
We found that the ethos of independent learning we had cultured was refreshing to those from educational institutions. The learning environment was very positive and productive in providing specialist resources (CAD CAM, Engineering , Music technology) as well as restoring wellbeing after difficult times in educational institutions.
We were able to meet the needs of those who needed time to themselves as well as those who enjoyed working in small groups. Key to our success was the intergenerational aspect - kids of all ages (9-19) working and playing together and supervised by ourselves, mentors provided by educational organisations to accompany the students and parents with DBS clearance.
After four years at 'the Barn' we were offered a historic building the centre of Stowmarket (The Old Courthouse) in which we could live as well as operate T&S. This also gave access to those who found travel to our previous village difficult. In a very short time we had a thriving community and a group of supportive parents who set up FOTAS (Friends of T&S) many of whom still support us as non executive governors.
We were offered the use of an old farm site in Northamptonshire to develop and expand our provision. This would give us much more space to do our stuff. Our term at the Courthouse came to a close so this was excellent timing! So we spent the summer of 2019 moving counties.
As a temporary accommodation we bought a huge bus as an office space and soon had plans to tour our provision. Mark got his truck license and then Covid struck . . . Being dependent on Face to face contact and having no existing clients locally we hunkered down, worked online with our Suffolk groups and planned for the lifting of lockdown.
Freestone Lodge is an amazing place. An open opportunity in so many ways for so much more than we were able to offer in a small building. Blessed with acres of space to run and play, multiple barns for eventual use and the interim provision of a fantastic old coach as a warm, cool, safe organised space for our CAD CAM suite.
We look forward to meeting new faces and exploring what we can provide for learners in Northants who need what we got.