A couple whose seven ‘feral’ children live without any rules says it doesn’t matter that they are failing at their schoolwork.
Gemma and Lewis Rawnsley, from Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire, even let their kids have tattoos, play with pick axes and spirit burners, set their own bedtimes and swear.
All seven children – from the oldest, who is 13, to the youngest one-year-old – have all been raised in a house where there are no rules or boundaries.
The only stipulation the parents have is that the children don’t lie or hurt each other.
The family is going to appear on the Channel 4 documentary series Feral Families, where so-called ‘off-grid’ parents explain how they live.
None of the children – Skye, 13, Finlay, 12, Phoenix, nine, Pearl, eight, Hunter, five, Zephyr, three, and one-year-old Woolf – go to school. They are all taught reading and writing by their parents, with education inspectors checking in every year.
‘We just wing it and go with the flow,’ Gemma, 35, told The Mirror. ‘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.’
Phoenix didn’t want to learn to read, but eventually changed his mind because he wanted to send his friends messages on his XBox.
The children don’t take any exams or follow the national curriculum, and are falling far behind other children their age – but Gemma said she’s ‘not bothered’ by this.
‘They’re behind their peers in terms of academics, but I’m not bothered,’ she said. ‘GCSEs are a memory test, it’s not about being intelligent.’
However, she claims they get compliments on the kids – meaning their system ‘works’.
She said: ‘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 on Thursday at 9pm