1. FIRST positive reinforcement backed by discipline.


    School structure with Home Education practicality and flexibility.

    Human sized, communicating groups of people.

    Many sizes for many persons.

    However well we do our bit education cannot be successful without the parent side.

    Clever stuff this. But people come first.

    * * * * * * * * * * *


    Many a parent has painful memories of teachers who damaged confidence, which cut off learning as well as causing unhappiness. Many families come to us because their child has been hurt and discouraged by unkindness.

    Our education philosophy is founded on “positive reinforcement.”

    It has long been known in education that if we treat a student as stupid they will rapidly become what they are told they are. Conversely treat a student as intelligent and they become intelligent! Students respond precisely to what a teacher (or parent) shows them they are.

    Positive reinforcement means that wherever we can we find ways to encourage with kindness and respect, pushing by praise. Young people are wired to work harder for the reward of approval. So not only does it make a kinder atmosphere, praise pushes harder!

    We take this so seriously that we have actually discontinued more than one teacher for not showing respect for a student. Being boring is also disapproved in a First College teacher as a lack of the respect to the student.
    But of course it does not work to just be fluffy and sweet. Young people are strong, determined people. Very often their idea of what they want to do today does not match what an adult knows is necessary for them for their future. Together with parents, it is our job to insist a student accepts the goals of learning we have all agreed, towards skills and qualifications which will shape their future.

    So practical discipline backs up our first principle of patience and kindness. If this needs to go beyond moderate levels discipline is carefully discussed and agreed with parent/s. Of course online learning is highly ‘transparent’ because the family can see our classes as they happen, check the record of one, and see the constantly updating record of the individual student’s work progress by the minute!.

    First College is a combination of

    the best of school and of home education,

    put together.

    SCHOOL gives us an efficient timetable where student and teacher meet to work together at set times. The student knows the shape of their day and week, what the goals are.

    School gives us the teacher -student relationship where teachers provide information, resources, and expertise on how to study, how to handle exams. Teachers lead by inspiration, particularly giving a young person the foundation of confidence to succeed.

    Finally school gives us working to a deadline to get things done.

    This is not something anyone loves but it is vital to getting or keeping a job, getting qualifications, or running a household and parenting. Getting homework done on time is therefore a major training for the responsibilities of life later on.

    But there is much that is not so desirable about school which brings families to want ‘something different.’

    This can differ from one family to another. For some it is important that we are small, human sized, and personal. For others the complete lack of fuss about issues outside education matters so much. We are not concerned with hairstyle or socks. That comes under parental authority. Our end is about brains and good manners.

    Nor do we need to impose a long working week, or long dragging terms. Being small, working around levels of ability, insisting on good manners and getting work done efficiently – all this means we get a great more done in a short time. Time with the family, time to learn from the world around us, really matters.

    Shan's own small village school as a child,
    which she remembers as efficient and kindly.
    HOME EDUCATION is built on this learning about the world, not being closed away from it. Rather than home education it is really “home based” education, using home and family as the basis for learning about your local community and the rest of the world. Of course the international network of our students, and the resources of the internet, constantly opens up a wider world for our students.

    Home education taught us that learning takes place all the time for a child in all waking hours. So that is one of several reasons why we respect “free time“ by making our timetable contracted but efficient.

    Home education is flexible and practical. It looks at what works with a real, individual child, not what pompous policy documents set out in tickboxes. Child need does not fit into boxes! Talking closely with the family we can agree with you particular practical aims that suit your child.

    That might mean a special reduced or enhanced learning plan. It can mean an important day out with the family (akthough homework must still be done). Or our lessons can be built a great deal around the actual interests of the child. Their suggestions are always welcomed. (But please note on the Exam Programme we have very little choice like this.)

    Home education trains us to go at the pace the child needs. Some might stay on the same level for a long time patiently rebuilding skills damaged by previous experiences. Others go zooming ahead. Both are rewarding to a teacher in different ways, plus the steady ground of the middles.

    Most of all home education’s wisdom is that children respond to personal interaction. No child flourishes in isolation, whether left alone with nothing but papers, or feeling alone in the midst of a crowded school. Our small, friendly community ensures the young people can feel noticed, and valued.

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