Going public as a ‘Feral Family’ for Channel 4

Wow… what a crazy week that was!!!!

Going public as a ‘Feral Family’ for Channel 4

When I agreed to do the documentary, I thought it would play on the TV and that would be it.

HOW NAIVE!!!! (Well I do live on a isolated hill, no TV, never read papers.  I’m not accustomed to how these things usually play out in the media)

I certainly didn’t expect to have all the tabloid newspapers talking about us like this article in The Daily Mail


Butterfly Belly

Doing live interviews on radio and TV was pretty surreal!! I was so incredibly nervous before an interview on ITV Lorraine.  I didn’t sleep the whole night before.

With a butterfly belly, my mind froze, I stumbled on my first words, but then I found my voice and got through it. By the end I wish I’d had longer.  I would have liked to speak after the live link with my Dad, all the concerns he had around socialization were just his fear, not our reality.

I would jump at the chance of doing live TV again. All the production staff are welcoming and friendly and I got pampered in make up. Now there is no fear of the unknown,I wouldn’t have the nerves and be able to rest well before.

(We made the most of our expenses paid trip to London. We visited the Dungeons which kick started our Halloween vibe!!)

Luckily I was able to keep myself separate from all the hype. Once I was back on the hill, I was back in my bubble.

It was all there happening inside my laptop though. I had to respond quickly to all the kind messages of support from friends, and slam it shut again. People kept tagging me in social media posts, but I wasn’t interested in reading character assassinations from strangers who base their opinion on a sensationalized version of the truth from newspapers.

I spent a lot of time liaising with the lovely Philly, the press manger from channel 4. She was very kind and supportive, and kept the focus going!

Reason for going public

When I received the call from Rachel the producer, she sounded extremely positive about home education and the families they had filmed so far.

They were interested in filming us because of our travel plans. I thought this would be a great angle to show and inspire families. So I agreed.

A bit disappointed

We filmed so much footage regarding our pending adventures. Including the mechanic working on our magical mystery tour truck (Mercedes 814 pictured above). Scenes with me talking about where we are going, why, and how. I thought this  exciting and positive stuff.

Unfortunately we ran out of filming time, which meant a concluding shot couldn’t be filmed,so the director (Lucy) scrapped those scenes and instead used the footage with my Dad and our dispute about home educating.  I can see it is useful to tell that story. My Dad is the traditional voice of many viewers. But for me, it was sad to show a negative side, rather than the huge positive that is the major focus in our life right now.

No Rules ?

Due to me not telling Shiloh off when he knocked over a drink, it was assumed I have ‘no rules’. I do prefer a more gentle way of parenting, but I still have rules! If anyone is interested on my take on discipline, you can read Parenting – Finding the balance with discipline


It is true that I took a break from  teaching core subjects to Archie 5 years ago. His confidence needed that time. I have written more in DOESNT READ BUT PLAYS WITH FIRE!!! ( so they say!! )

There’s only 15 mins footage of us shown on TV,  extremely tiny edited glimpse into our life. No time at all to show everything we do.

I want to clarify, we absolutely learn!! Reading, writing and maths is something we engage in daily.

Archie can read

He has been slow with reading and writing due to dyslexia, but his tutor has  informed us, he is only a year behind his peers now. I am so proud of the effort he puts in.

We are really pleased that Archie’s education center can still tutor him with online lessons and Skype, when we are on the road.  He won’t have to miss out and will keep up to date.

He can read and compose his own music,(as he is doing pictured above) I often catch him doing this quietly by himself.


What a stink this word caused!! FERAL!! FERAL!! FERAL!!!

People presumed we were like dirty mangy foxes!!

There were a few home educators in uproar, they thought the public would box all home schoolers as the same.

FERAL!…… I love it!!!  There are many ‘unschoolers’ on Instagram with the word ‘feral’ as their title or in their description. Many like minds are associating themselves with this wild word!

 I live rural, my kids roam free, play in dirt and mimic the dogs sometimes, so I’ve  become accustomed to describing them as ‘feral’ in a loving way. It’s a word I hear a lot with other home ed families I know. I guess that’s why it rolled off my tongue when Lucy said she was struggling to find a name.

The definition in the dictionary describes us perfectly …...’untamed’ ‘undomesticated’

We are living outside institution. Our kids are free to engage in their own activities and be their natural self.

The newspapers and social media were all over it!! The ‘no rules’ families who ‘let their daughter shave her own head’ or ‘boy juggles fire but can’t read’ ….!!

Home education groups were freaking out, they thought we were going to show things in a bad light, like others have before. Some were harassing us,  they thought we were representing them personally. They were so angry with us for going public.( These were complete strangers who just happen to home educate) It was crazy!!

Then the day after we aired, the attitude changed, like this article from the Mirror;


A spokesperson for home education?

Having so much passion and drive to raise awareness, means speaking out publicly is something I’m happy and keen to do.  However, I am not an example of how everyone does it. Home educating is as varied and diverse as humanity itself.

Every child and parent is different. There is no one way to suit all. That’s the benefit of home educating in the first place.

Some parents are very routinely structured and may even mirror school. While others may not ever pick up a workbook. And there are many who do a little bit of both and find their own approach somewhere in the middle.

I’m child led. Which means I observe, encourage and guide in a way they learn best.

If you are creative and ‘free spirited’ you can turn almost anything into a learning opportunity and engage a child’s curiosity, without being conventional. Children are naturally curious and want to learn!

It’s important not to put all home educators in the same box, because we are all so beautifully different!

Every cloud certainly has a bright glowing silver lining!!

My favorite experience has been what came out of the online negativity!! (yes your keyboard comments didn’t get to me one bit!!)

My keyboard warrior army was present in full force!! I have discovered that my friends and my local home ed tribe have got my back!! The support they have shown me has been OVERWHELMING and I’m so grateful.

They kept me buzzed up on their friendship energy all week, I still haven’t come down!!

Going public as a ‘Feral Family’ for Channel 4 – Would I do it again?

I really enjoyed spending my summer filming with Rachel and Lucy who were great company and they always bought treats!! Totally  impressed with all the staff at channel 4 and the after care I received.

I would absolutely do it all over again!!

Though,  I would take a lot more time explaining myself to the crew, to make sure they fully understood who I was, so all the narrative represented us properly.

All in all, it has been a fun experience, a proper break from our normal day to day. I was shocked at how much the judgements in the press and on social media were just bouncing off me. I wasn’t bothered in the slightest. You can never please or agree with everyone, so I was more than prepared for it.

It was a huge learning experience for the kids. Archie had a camera lesson, has been in ITV’s studio watching live broadcasting, and Lucy has promised some work experience for him when she gets back to work after her maternity break! So maybe a future in TV for Archie, who know’s!!

My motivation was to inspire other families. I knew I wasn’t going to win over everyone, but I know there are children out there depressed, self harming and even being medicated,  and no doubt school is the cause.

I found out that in the first week after ‘feral families’ 7 kids in my town alone de-registered from school!! And the numbers across the rest of the country have increased!

Want to know more?????

I have been contacted by people who want to know more. So I have started my website to share more about us, insight into a free spirited (a little bit feral!!) family. freespiritmum.com and Instagram ‘freespiritfam’

I spoke to the other families in the program who are SO KEEN to show you what they get up to!! It is so much more than can be shown in a short documentary… so go check them out!

The rawnsleys  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2ufkfJIk-evtFO6g4ASI0A

The Hairsines – Instagram thehairsinefamil


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