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'We just go with the flow': The parents whose seven home-schooled children have TATTOOS, play with axes, choose their own bedtime and don't take GCSEs because they are 'a memory test' (14 Pics)

The Rawnsley Family - Pearl, Skye, Finn, Hunter, Gemma, Zephyr, Lewis, Phoenix.

A toddler effs and blinds, while his five-year-old brother plays with a spirit burner and wields a pick axe, and yet it’s all okay with mum.
For Gemma Rawnsley, this is all part of the learning curve for her seven children.
None are at school. But they can cut and dye their hair, have tattoos and piercings, eat what they want when they want, curse and set their own bedtimes.
Skye, 13, Finlay, 12, Phoenix, nine, Pearl, eight, Hunter, five, Zephyr, three, and one-year-old Woolf are raised in a household where there are few boundaries.
“People see my son with the pick axe and will think ‘how dangerous’,” says Gemma, 35. “But not if you teach them how to use it, it’s not.
The Rawnsley Family. Hunter, Finn, Phoenix, Wolf, Lewis, Gemma, Pearl, Skye, Zephyr
The boys play and Hunter takes aim
And Zephyr joins in

Skye Rawnsley and her brother Wolf

Pearl Rawnsley drawing on the wall drawing space created for the children labelled "Feral" by Channel 4

“I make calculated decisions so if something seems dangerous I know it has risk attached, but the benefits are that they learn responsibility.”
Zephyr is not told off for swearing while Hunter is allowed to play with the spirit burner and chemicals to learn about science.
Gemma, who says she was raised in a “violent and loveless” home, adds: “It’s about letting them make decisions, it’s not a feckless attitude where we sit back and let it all happen. It looks like we’re feral, but that’s just one side of us. Feral is left to your own devices, but these kids are brought up to the nth degree.
“I didn’t have a stable upbringing. My mission has been about helping my kids have the most interesting, fun and happy lives in a house filled with the love I never had.”
Mobile hairdresser Gemma and husband Lewis, 31, want the kids to enjoy life at their three-bed home in Hebden Bridge, West Yorks, before facing the challenges of adulthood. Instead of waking to the school run chaos, the kids decide what they want to do for the day.


Zephyr hiding under the table at the well ordered and civilised lunch time.

If Pearl wants to shave her head, she is handed the clippers.
Drawing on chalkboards lining the staircase is accepted and if the kids want ice cream at midnight, that’s okay too. No two days are the same in the Rawnsley household.
Gemma explains: “We just wing it and go with the flow. If the weather is good we sack it off and go out for the day, if it’s raining then it’s a good day to stay in and do stuff. There are no boundaries so the kids get on with life and do what they want.”
Gemma and Lewis decided to home school the children after pulling Skye and Finlay out of the education system when they were aged seven and six. Until six months ago Phoenix didn’t want to learn to read – then decided he needed to, to message pals on his Xbox.
Now the kids are taught reading and writing by their parents, but do not take exams or study the national curriculum. Education inspectors visit ­annually. And Gemma defends home schooling, saying: “They’re behind their peers in terms of academics, but I’m not bothered. GCSEs are a memory test, it’s not about being intelligent.”
Lewis Rawnsley wants his children to enjoy life

Hunter Rawnsley one of the well brought up homed schooled children labelled "Feral" by Channel 4

The boys Findlay, Phoenix and Zephyr and Hunter play together
Hunter, Skye, Phoenix, Pearl

The only rules in the household dictate that the children do not lie, hurt anyone or be offensive. Their freedom allows them to practise skills they would not be able to learn at school.
Lewis, a catering manager, says: “Finlay loves cooking and could put a three-course meal on the table.
“Home schooling let’s them learn life skills and they can do a lot of things other kids can’t.”
Gemma adds: “We’re relaxed about things other people might find shocking, but we’re probably more on it in terms of guiding and bringing them up than other people are.
“We really think about how we bring them up and we get so many compliments about how amazing the kids are. So it seems a bit wild on the surface, but it works.”
Feral Families is on Channel 4 at 9pm on Thursday.

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