The Learn Free Vision
Juliet English has been home educating since 1998, when she and her family were still living in Durban, South Africa. In October 2007, the English family moved to Coventry, UK, when Larry English was offered the opportunity to head up a charitable organisation based there. While there were many positive aspects to this intercontinental move, the family found that there were many challenges for them as a home educating family, and less support than they had been used to in South Africa. Once the CHEW group was established, and providing some of that support to her family, Juliet felt that she had more to offer home educators in the UK, and began considering how she might use some of her skills and experience to encourage other home educating parents.
She took her first step towards making the conference a reality early in April 2012 when she approached a local church to enquire about venue hire. With very little fuss, the date was set and the venue booked, and the first Learn Free Conference was held on 19 May 2012! The name, “Learn Free” was inspired by the 1966 film “Born Free”. Just as a lion born in captivity was released to return to live in the wild, to be true to its nature, so home education should be an opportunity to see our children learning naturally, as they were designed to do, without the formality and restrictions of an institution. Juliet is passionate about home education as a positive and valid choice for families, and works with groups and individuals locally and nationally to protect the rights of children and the family in home education.
Christian Home Educators Warwickshire (CHEW)
The Learn Free conference is run entirely by volunteers from CHEW. CHEW was formed by Christian home educators based in and around Coventry, seeking to bring together and support families in their home educating journey. CHEW started out with just a few home educating families meeting informally in 2008. Regular meet-ups of just a few families soon attracted others, and the group became known by its current name in 2010. The group currently has almost 400 families (of all backgrounds) associated with the group on Facebook, and serves around 25-30 families directly on a regular basis, with up to 60 children attending activities regularly.
In non-COVID-19 times, the group has 2 hall meetings a month for themed lessons and activities, LEGO club and board games, as well as a monthly field trip. Lockdown, however, led to regular online activities to help avoid feelings of isolation.
Individuals within the group support the wider home education community through sports activities and other clubs, and many of them have gone on to becoming speakers and mentors to many other home educators around the country.
If you’re local to Coventry, why not Find us on Facebook!.