Billy Arthur Walden is an excellent example of how home education gives young people an opportunity to take charge of their own education and achieve excellent results simply by pursuing their own interests and passions.
Billy’s mum, Jayne, officially removed him from school at age 12, although he had already missed so much school before that, that he considers himself to have been home educated from age 11.
Jayne did not really follow a plan, but allowed Billy to learn subjects he chose, at his own pace. Watching Horrible Histories, for instance, might lead to learning about the World Wars. The family did a lot of travelling, and so Billy had the opportunity to learn about interesting sites and places, such as Hadrian’s Wall. Most importantly, Billy got to pursue his passion for carpentry and mechanics, spending as much time as he wanted on his projects. Jayne was able to persuade Billy of the advantages of learning his less-favourite subjects of Maths and English by explaining their importance and advantages, and with that understanding, he found he could tackle them – and even started to enjoy maths!
Besides taking Maths and English exams, Billy has also completed and received qualifications in Carpentry, Bricklaying and Plumbing.
Billy credits having the freedom to learn, his way, for developing a love for the work he does, and not regarding it as a chore. Pursuing his own interests meant that learning could happen at any time, and progress rapidly, without worrying about schedules or timetables. This led to him becoming the youngest person (age 15) to complete a full camper-van conversion with no assistance. It was furnished to the highest standard and the quality of workmanship was so outstanding and unique it impressed George Clarke of Channel 4’s ”Amazing Spaces” so much that it was featured on the programme. George called Billy ‘a talented but humble craftsman’ and stated that Billy’s work ‘took his breath away’. At 16 years old, Billy went on to prove the quality of his carpentry skills by winning the SkillBuild award, the largest multi-trade competition in the UK. He has also won the Institute of Carpenters Craft competition.
At 17 years old he fully rebuilt a 1965 narrow boat by himself which was also shown as an ‘A’ build on Channel 4’s “George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces” and Billy became not only the youngest project manager on the programme, but also the first to have two builds featured. Billy has taken on many more projects since, and has some exciting things in the pipeline. At time of writing, he is a contestant on the Channel 4 program “Britain’s Best Woodworker”. You can follow Billy’s progress on Instagram @billyarthurwalden