Parent/Carer Support

If your children/young people are struggling at school and/or you’re looking for support to help you on your journey exploring alternatives to conventional methods in education, you might find the following resources helpful:

Progressive Education Group

Our Progressive Education Group on Facebook is a good place to start. Whether your kids attend school or not, this is a place to connect with others who are questioning the system and exploring the world of alternatives. It’s a supportive community where you can ask questions and hear inspiring stories from families and pioneering educators taking various approaches to education, inside and outside of the school system.

You can also browse our website to find out about alternatives to conventional education, visit our directory of schools and learning communities, jobs and events, hear voices from others on the same journey and join campaigns which call for change. If your children/young people attend school, you might like to share our school support section with their teachers and school leaders which can help enhance the student experience

Not Fine in School

Support When Your Kids Struggle at School

Not Fine in School

If your child is not thriving at school, you can visit the Not Fine in School website and Facebook groups. They are a parent/carer-led organisation set up in response to the growing number of children and young people who struggle with school attendance.

“School attendance problems and barriers are poorly understood, are compounded by current challenges within education and health systems, and can have severe consequences for both child and family. We offer peer-support for family members, and we share advice for young people, and professionals.”

Define Fine

This is another is a parent/carer-led organisation which supports children and young people who experience school attendance difficulties.

“School attendance difficulties are complex but all too often these children are described as being “fine” when they are in school.  Define Fine has produced resources based on relevant government policies and guidance, to help parents and their families to work with professionals to assess and then plan appropriate and timely support.”

Support Exploring the Alternatives

A Beautiful Childhood

Created by the author of Extraordinary Parenting, Eloise Rickman, A Beautiful Childhood, is an “online home for peaceful parents and gentle educators across the world”. They offer a number of courses for parents (and educators), including their ‘Beautiful Childhood’ course which gives an overview of various educational approaches, including Montessori, Steiner-Waldorf, Forest School, Reggio, Unschooling, Classical and Charlotte Mason.

“I truly believe in an eclectic approach to raising children; in picking and choosing different ideas and methods to fit your own family values and needs, and in being inspired by different styles and trying things out to see what works best.

I know that not everyone with young children has the time or energy to read books about every approach they come across, which is why I have taken my research and experience and created this course to share my knowledge with you in a way that is manageable and very practical.”

Consent Based Education

Sophie Christophy is a feminist and children’s rights activist, primarily working on deconstructing patriarchy from childhood socialization in education and family organizational and relational culture. Following the co-creation of a self-directed, consent and rights-based education community for 5-12 year olds, she has been running a Consent Based Education course for over 5 years.

“As parenting evolves beyond the traditional authoritarian, patriarchal model of ‘power over’, and families make the choice to live together in more mutually respectful, socially just ways that acknowledge the personhood and agency of children, essential questions arise as to what that means in regards to our relationship with ourselves, others, and our outlook and interaction with the world around us.

Consent-Based Education is a response to this tension. What happens when authoritarianism/patriarchy is stripped away, and we become more questioning, self-directed and empowered in our own lives, and desire this for the children in our lives too? 

This course is designed for parents and people who live/work with children, who want to explore and go deeper into their understanding and practice of Consent-Based Education, for their own personal development and to support life-long living and learning in a consent-based way.”

Remindful Life

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Remindful Life has been created by Jeneen Gacek, an entrepreneur, fun loving adventurer and unschooling mum of 2 teenagers. Jeneen helps parents move from fear and worry to a space of self trust, confidence and connection to intentionally parent their unique child throughout their learning journey. She runs interactive parenting courses for Creating Connection & Exploring Self Direction.

“Maybe you are worried about your child’s future, COVID has left you feeling locked up and disconnected, or the idea of traditional school doesn’t feel quite right for you or your kids, jump aboard this adventure train to discover another way.”

Evolving Education – The Learning Expedition

Evolving Education offers an online learning expedition where you will be able to:

  • Discover how to cultivate motivation and support kids to become independent learners, life-long learners.
  • Form a community of educators and facilitators with values to support each other, share learnings and challenges.
  • Experience a virtual journey through the most innovative learning centers around the world.

We have met many families who have decided to homeschool, unschool or take an active role in the education of their sons and daughters. Through their motivation to provide the best possible education for their children, some have studied and tried more educational methods than some professors in pedagogy. In this course you can learn from these families, both parents and children.” 

Sarah Sudea – Family Coach

Sarah Sudea is a former teacher, now coach and consultant, who works with families and schools when children and young people are unhappy or struggling at school. She uses her knowledge of the school system to support parents/carers and teachers in working together to make a plan to improve things. She fosters meaningful collaboration and co-creation between families and schools and is particularly knowledgeable about flexi-schooling and the benefits this can bring, without increasing burdens for school staff.

Where schools are unable to meet the needs of the young people, Sarah ensures parents/carers understand the obligations of local authorities to provide alternative education, supports them in asking for it and works closely with parents/carers and children/young people in exploring the options and making a plan for the future. You can follow her on Twitter or book a free, no obligation discussion to find out more.

Stephanie Sewell1:1 and Group Coaching

Stephanie Sewell is an independent education consultant who works 1:1 and in groups with parents (and teens/kids) to help people explore the world of alternatives, wherever they are in the world. She supports parents whose children/young people are in school as well as those who have started a homeschooling or unschooling journey. You can keep up to date with her support services on her Facebook Page. Here’s a testimonial which one of her clients recently shared:

“Our family was in crisis when our son became unable to attend school in grade 4. I had never heard of school phobia or anxiety based school attendance difficulties at that time. I am now well too familiar with it. Professional and educational services involved at the time, with their typical behavioural approaches, were more than ineffective. In fact, they created severe trauma for our son.

Meeting Stephanie was a game changer for our family. I can not express enough how her empathic support brought reassurance and hope at a time where we were completely lost trying to return our son to school. Stephanie opened our eyes to what education truly means….”

Lights On® Academy

The Lights On® Academy is a replacement for school for parents who want to drop their old school thinking around grades, curriculum and learning through subjects, and focus in on passion-led, purpose-driven learning.

“We work with changemaker families who are ready to achieve extraordinary things. If you are ready to take full ownership of your family’s learning adventure, so you AND your children can learn, thrive and flourish, you are in the right place…”

Meet Lights On® Academy founder, Julia Black in our Voices section.


Lulastic and the Hippyshake

Six years ago, Lulastic blogger and activist, Lucy AitkenRead moved her family from South London, UK to a yurt in the middle of nowhere in New Zealand. They share their off grid farm with another family where they all live without school. Lucy is passionate about supporting people to live compassionately and runs her DISCO course for parents considering or doing Self Directed Learning (otherwise known as home life learning/unschooling).

“Are you drawn to the unschooling life but feel overwhelmed by the prospect? Enter this safe space to go deeply into your motivations, address your fears and resistance and become excited about the possibility of a life with your kids at home, learning in a self-directed and curriculum-free way.”

Set Up Your Own School

If you don’t want your child to be part of the conventional school system and you can’t find a suitable alternative in your area, perhaps you could consider setting up your own school or learning community. We have put together a list of resources to help you get started.

Signposting for SEND Support

In addition to Not Fine in School and Define Fine mentioned above, the following organisations offer support to parents and families around special educational needs and disabilities (SEND):

Parenting Mental Health – Support for parents of children/young people suffering with depression, anxiety or other mental health issue.

SEND Family Instincts – EHCP parent requests, draft checks, annual review support and appeals.

Education Otherwise Than At School (EOTAS) Support for SEN Families – Support for families making requests for EOTAS

EOTAS: Education Otherwise Than At School. What is it, and can I get it? – A blog by Special Needs Jungle

The Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Information Advice and Support Services (SENDIASS) – Offers information, advice and support for parents and carers of children and young people with SEND. The service is free, impartial and confidential.

Independent Provider of Special Education Advice (IPSEA) – Offers free and independent legally based information, advice and support. 

SOS!SEN – Offers a free, friendly, independent and confidential telephone helpline for parents and others looking for information and advice on SEND.