Home Schooling in the Jungle

One of the best things about being involved with Oxford Home Schooling is that every summer, when the exam results are published, you get to enjoy numerous tales of triumph in adversity. These are the moments when you feel it has all been worthwhile.

This summer everyone at Oxford Home Schooling has been heartened by news from the jungle of Papua New Guinea, one of the most remote corners left on Planet Earth. Two brothers, Paul and John, part of a family of British missionaries stationed in the midst of a jungle tribe, have gained a remarkable set of GCSE results after being home-schooled with our courses and tutors for the last five years.

Each boy started with a range of Key Stage 3 Oxford Home Schooling courses in what would have been Year 7 and worked their way up. Paul, now 16, was delighted with his IGCSE results: Physics, Mathematics, English, English Literature, French, History, Geography, Biology, Chemistry (all A* grades) and Business Studies (A). A brilliant effort considering the difficulty of studying so far from Britain.

Younger brother, John (just 15), did not win quite such a collection of IGCSE grades: French (A), Maths (A), History (A), Geography (B), Biology (A), Chemistry (B), Business Studies (C),  Economics (C), English (B) and English Literature (C) but, considering his age, this is arguably a finer achievement still.

The boys’ parents work for a Christian People’s Group in the Madang Province, an organisation whose primary focus is to plant churches among new tribes who have yet to hear the Christian Gospel. The family has been living and working in the midst of the indigenous people in the dense jungles of New Guinea, far from the nearest town. Communication with the outside world has perforce been extremely limited for months at a time.

Oxford Home Schooling’s connection with this extraordinary family goes back to 2008 when the boys started their first Key Stage 3 courses in English, Maths, Science and History.

They were kind enough to write in 2010: “We really do tremendously appreciate the help that Oxford Home Schooling has been to the boys. This is an incredible place to grow up and although very different, and there are some things they don’t experience, there are lots of advantages too.  It means a lot that we can continue to live and work here as a family and we appreciate Oxford Home Schooling for assisting us to be able to do this.

Then in 2011, we received this note:

“Dear All,

“Just wanted to let you know that Paul and John’s IGCSE coursepacks have arrived with us. Post to Papua New Guinea normally takes two weeks by airmail to get to the nearest town and then we have to wait until there is a flight available on a small Cessna 206 plane to get the mail and other supplies in to our home in the jungle. A small miracle occurred as it arrived here within one week of leaving Liverpool! We paid a rather large sum of money to DHL for their most efficient service.

“The boxes arrived in the coastal town of Madang yesterday morning. A few weeks ago we booked a flight in on this day with other supplies, and so an hour after being flown into Madang town on a commercial airline, the boxes were on board the little Cessna plane. I should have taken a photo of them when they arrived. They had jungle vines wrapped around them, and were secured to a small tree branch which was then carried on the shoulders of two village boys across the river in a dugout canoe and finally along a trail up a 200ft hill to our house!”

The family moved back to Edinburgh early 2013 in time for the boys to enter and take their exams. Both are now going on to do Highers in Edinburgh.

After they received their exam results, we received this heart-warming message from the boys’ mother:

“Many people thought our boys would be disadvantaged being brought up out there. Their results show a different story and they are all the richer for the experiences that they have had growing up there. We are very proud of both Paul and John. Paul would like to study medicine and John is still not sure, but talking about perhaps physiotherapy or training as a chef.

“Oxford Home Schooling was a direct answer to our prayers and we thank you most sincerely for all the help your organisation has been.”

We wish both the boys the very best of luck for an exciting future.


Dr Nick Smith,

Principal, Oxford Home Schooling

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