Conference Talks

Empowered Families 

Click here to download the 2023 Conference Programme to get a feel for what the HEFF conference is about.

Details will be released nearer the time for the 2024 speaker line up.

We are currently looking for someone to host the conference for HEFF2024. 

Someone who collects visiting speakers, introduces them to the audience, facilitates questions, helps set up the technology, and packs down afterwards.

You don’t need any experience, just an interest in home education as a subject, and a willingness to pull things together so the speakers can be heard. The conference runs all week and has regular slots, so you can plan around it in advance, and taking the role will entitle you to the same discounts as a workshop provider.

If you are interested in taking this on, please email conference@hefestivals.co.uk and let us know.

About the HEFF™ Conference.

Choosing to home educate is a significant and life changing decision and sometimes as a parent it can feel overwhelming. Even when we’ve been home educating for a few years, we can face challenges which cause us to doubt ourselves and our ability.

One of the most valuable ways in which parents can find inspiration and motivation is through attending a home education conference and our “Empowered Families” conference at HEFF2023 is no different.

In addition to all the wonderful social and learning opportunities parents can enjoy at HEFF, the conference offers an excellent way to gain knowledge, acquire practical tips, be inspired and increase your understanding of situations we face as home educators in the UK.

Our expert speakers, panel discussions and workshops on various aspects of home education will provide valuable insight and information that empowers and equips parents. They will share personal stories, wisdom from their own experiences, knowledge they’ve gained, and other content that will energise, motivate and enrich your home education journey.

So, when you’re planning your HEFF activities, check out what the conference has to offer and make it a part of your HEFF experience.

Please note all talks and times are subject to change if circumstances happen outside of our control. Please check the live schedule for up to date info.

Worldschooling – Living and learning everywhere

The Conrad Family

Cecilie & Jesper Conrad live a nomadic life, traveling full-time with their kids for +5 years, and have unschooled for +10 years. They left behind their successful careers and big house to embrace a life of freedom, love, and adventure.

They are radical unschoolers who through their podcast, blogs, and social media, inspire others to live the life they truly want. Their goal is to stay true to their values and continue exploring what is important and meaningful. Join their adventure!

The Conrad Family’s talk at HEFF2023

Join a conversation with the Conrad Family, where they share their nomadic lifestyle and unconventional approach to education.

In this Q&A-based talk they will share their story of leaving behind societal norms and embracing full-time travel. Discover how their values of love, adventure, personal freedom, and strong relationships shaped their path.

Through engaging anecdotes and practical insights, Cecilie and Jesper will encourage you to break free from fear and embark on your own worldschooling adventure. Get ready to embrace a life of meaningful learning and limitless possibilities!

Reading, rebelling, revisioning – A home education research journey

Harriet Pattison

Harriet is an erstwhile home educator turned researcher. She is especially interested in visions of alternative childhood and has written and researched on policy, pedagogy and philosophy regarding home education.

Harriet is the co-author of How Children Learn at Home and Rethinking Learning to Read and is a senior lecturer in Early Childhood Studies at Liverpool Hope University.

Harriet’s talk at HEFF2023

Harriet has done a variety of research over the years connected to learning and home education.

In this session she will share about her own personal research journey and how that has tied in with changes in our understanding of home education as well as political issues.

She will also share helpful and empowering information regarding her research into how children become literate. 

When Governments are not Listening

Randall Hardy

Randall and Mary Hardy live in Shropshire. Their older children were taught in a small school which operated as a parents’ cooperative. It was in that setting they discovered the possibility of educating their own children at home. They took that step with their three youngest children, who are now all adults.

After first becoming aware of the political climate affecting home educators around the time of the Badman Review in 2009, Randall has continued to monitor developments relevant to HE in the UK.
Some of his material/updates may be found on his blog “No Nationalisation of our Kids”.

The Hardy’s maintain an ongoing interest in home education, having witnessed its benefits for various members of their own family. They are particularly exercised about the increasing pressures which home educators now find themselves under in many parts of the world, and wish to encourage all parents everywhere to be aware of their responsibilities regarding their own children’s education before these are eroded completely.

Randall’s talk at HEFF2023.

Are you concerned about the threat of state intrusion into family life? Are you worn down by the constant barrage of attacks on parental responsibility for education? Have you ever felt that there should be a challenge to state overreach?

In this session, Randall will take a look at the current political situation in England and Wales, and seek to encourage everyone to not succumb to the pressure being put on home educating families to shut up and do what they are told.

We love maths & Learning maths while laughing

Pam Moore and Anne Buglass

Anne and Pam have been colleagues and friends for many years and are both fully qualified primary teachers.

While working as primary maths specialists, they believed that self esteem was fundamental to a child’s attainment in maths. They realised how important it is that everyone involved with each child has a positive attitude to maths.

They started to investigate why so many of the children they worked with had a ‘can’t do maths’ attitude. During a ‘light bulb’ moment they decided that supporting parents would be an effective way of tackling this issue.

After speaking with parents of primary age children they saw a need for up-to-date, mathematically sound and easily accessible information about primary maths and set up their website.

While promoting their website at the Education Show in Birmingham, UK, Anne and Pam were approached by many visiting Home Educators asking for curriculum support with maths. They responded to these requests by creating their Rainbow Ladder Maths program that supports Home Educators in facilitating their child’s maths learning using real world objects and activities which makes maths concrete and relevant to each child.

Pam & Anne’s talk at HEFF2023

Both our presentation and our workshop help you get to know us and learn how maths can be fun for you and your children. We love to move around, laugh and have fun while we support maths learning and we would love to show you how you can do that too.

Big Picture Thinking in Home Education

Juliet English

Juliet is an experienced home educator who is passionate about encouraging and empowering parents to educate their children with boldness and freedom.

She has home educated her seven children for over 25 years, and draws not only from her own experience, but also her knowledge gained from working with many home educating parents, within various home educating communities over the years.

Juliet is engaged in a number of initiatives which benefit home educators in the UK, drawing on her personal experience of educating her own 7 children, running groups, activities and conferences, as well as her background in Social Work. Juliet’s idea of fun is creating, crafting, and singing.

Juliet’s talk at HEFF2023.

Many of us start out home educating thinking it should look a certain way, without considering our beliefs, motivations and influences about learning and education. In this session, Juliet will take you through some important factors parents may want to consider to help shape their home education journey and find an approach that is positive and liberating for the whole family.

The Global Picture – understanding the home education movement and how it impacts us

Alison Sauer

Alison has been involved in home education and the politics of alternative education since meeting John Taylor Gatto and Roland Meighan at a conference in1999. Now Chair of The Centre for Personalised Education, she works in academic and political circles to protect the truth about the advantages of a personalised education and fight the rhetoric, rumour and fake news in media and governments both here and abroad.

Alison’s talk at HEFF2023

Alison will share about what is happening around the world in respect of home education, important information we should know about what is happening in other countries, and how we contribute to the global picture. 

Adventure for Wellbeing

Belinda Kirk

Belinda is the leading voice promoting the benefits of adventure on wellbeing and author of the best-selling, award-nominated book “Adventure Revolution: The life-changing power of choosing challenge”.
She also hosts Adventure Mind, a ground-breaking conference series that explores the link between adventure, wellbeing and mental health. Belinda has run Explorers Connect, a non-profit organisation connecting people to adventures for 13 years, encouraging over 30,000 ordinary people to engage in outdoor challenges.

An explorer in her own right, Belinda has walked across Nicaragua, searched for camels in China’s Desert of Death, discovered ancient rock paintings in Lesotho, pioneered inclusive expeditions for people with disabilities, lead dozens of youth development expeditions around the world and gained a Guinness World Record for rowing unsupported around Britain.

Belinda has managed remote trips for, amongst others, Bear Grylls, Ray Mears & Chris Ryan and is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and British Exploring Society. She is also an Ambassador for The Youth Adventure Trust.

Belinda’s talk at HEFF2023.

Belinda will share about the importance of outdoor adventures, how they benefit you as a family, and improve your wellbeing. She will pass on ideas, tips and other helpful tools to help you plan how your family can incorporate adventures into your lifestyle.

Unschooling: A healing response to trauma

Nicola Leyland

Nicola is mum of 2; Isaac (17) & Heidi (15), unschooling in rural Oxfordshire.. Trauma was the instigator for their home education decision, when Isaac (then 8 yrs) was kicked in the head by a horse, was knocked out, rushed to hospital and suffered a traumatic brain injury. 

Their story is complex, but also inspiring and profound. It has taken years of recovery and a complete re-writing of their family paradigm. Nicola’s personal journey of recovery took a circuitous route via studying brain injury, unschooling, low demand parenting, autism, creativity, mindfulness and self-compassion.

Nicola is proud to have trusted her children, and has learnt how to give them space for recovery and space to develop in their own unique ways.

Nicola believes that her children were able to develop trust in themselves by having agency, autonomy and freedom. She now volunteers for a charity to help parents of children with mental health issues, and is setting up The Mindful Home Educator as a space to discuss and share.

Nicola’s talk at HEFF2023

Nicola found herself home educating after her 8-year-old son was involved in a freak accident, causing head injury. This traumatic experience was further compounded by lack of compassion and appropriate support by teachers and medical professionals, which Nicola felt would cause more damage and hinder her son’s progress and healing.

Nicola will show us the film she made of her son’s accident and the subsequent family breakdown, and decision to home educate. She explores her family’s recovery journey, bringing in the power of childhood autonomy and agency, and also contemplating what can happen when these elements are missing from a childhood.

Nicola believes that home education is an essential right for families, and thinks her entire family would still be struggling with poor mental health if she hadn’t made that decision.

Listening to ourselves

Kerrin Butterworth

Kerrin is a lover of adventure, the outdoors, friendships, pondering life, and all things animals. These areas of passion are satisfied in her life on a smallholding in Southwest England, raising her young family alongside her husband Chester.

Kerrin had the privilege of being home educated herself, with a delightful, interest-based childhood. She now has the wonderful opportunity to draw on her rich experiences, and explore the philosophies her parents utilised, in her own journey of home educating her two children.

Kerrin’s background is as a horse trainer, and it was through helping young and/or troubled horses through remedial issues, that sparked a fascination in working with people in a similar way. Thus, she began her studies in Psychology, and is currently completing her MSc in this area.

Kerrin is particularly fascinated with helping people get ‘unstuck,’ by honouring their internal thoughts and feelings, identifying unhelpful patterns, making space to dream, and navigating ways forward in freedom. For her dissertation, Kerrin has been running a project in self-awareness with Home Educating mothers, exploring how this is key in balancing the stressors of life.

Kerrin’s talk at HEFF2023.

As parents, we sometimes overlook the importance of paying attention to internal experiences (thoughts, emotions and memories), and what happens when we ignore/suppress those experiences (often manifested as attempts to control or avoid certain people or experiences). But what happens when those experiences are triggered by someone close to us, for example our child?

In this session, Kerrin will explore how paying attention to the internal makes space not only for us as parents, but also creates space for our child’s full expression, something which is really important when home educating.

HELPing to protect home education – introducing Joy Baker Fund and Home Education Law Project

Ann Charles

Ann Charles is a home educated grown up and advocate for the home educating community.

Having never been to school, she is now involved in home education support at a national level, including being an admin for several social media support groups as well as being a Trustee for the Centre for Personalised Education. Along with others, she has set up Home Education Law Project and Joy Baker Fund to support home educators in need of legal advice and to train professionals and local authority staff in the correct application of the law.

When not volunteering for home education organisations, Ann can be found working with radio stations around the world on their production and technology strategy.

Ann’s talk at HEFF2023.

Home education is under increasing threat – whether it be the Schools Bill, Welsh Guidance, local authorities operating outside the law or general misinformation being treated as ‘fact’.

What can we do to change how home educators are treated and to ensure the correct application of the law?

In this session, volunteers with Home Education Law Project and Joy Baker Fund will introduce the two new not-for-profit organisations that will serve the home education community by providing grants for legal access alongside legal training for professionals.

Find out what those plans are and more importantly – how you can be involved.

Input from home educated children is also particularly welcomed.

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