NO MORE Home Education ERO REVIEWS!!!
Echoing then Minister of Education Dr Lockwood Smith in 1994, that he could not justify the expense of regular reviews on such a low-risk group as home educators, Chief Review Officer Graham Stoop wrote in February this year that reviews of home educators are not efficient or effective. Posted on the ERO website is the following: “From 1 July 2009 ERO will carry out reviews only when requested by the Secretary for Education, or in other particular circumstances.”
This is in line with the present central government’s drive to cut bureaucratic costs. Minister in charge of the ERO, Anne Tolley, said in February: “I have asked ERO to identify schools that are performing consistently well and, accordingly, from March 1, these schools will be exempt from the current three-yearly ERO reviews and will instead be reviewed every four to five years.”
In December 2008, the Finance Minister advised Cabinet to do a line-byline review of expenditure. Home Education reviews were found to account for $283,000 out of a total budget of $28,675,000 or 0.987% (less than 1%). Graham Stoop wrote: “This programme is considered to be low risk to the education priorities of the Government. In 2007/08 ERO completed 644 homeschooling reviews from a total of 6,169 homeschooled students [at an average cost of $439.44 per review]. ERO could not provide assurance that the terms of exemption were being met in only 35 of the 644 reviews [a 5.4% “failure” rate]. This has been the pattern over many years.”
About 35 reviews a year will continue to be made, reviews initiated by the MoE as a result of concerns brought to the Ministry’s notice about particular home educating families. It was felt by home educators in discussions with the ERO back in the years from 1994 to 1999 when no regular reviews were being held, that the bad eggs rose to the top and became very obvious to everyone. Consequently, more exemptions were revoked during that time, with fewer reviews being held, than in the years prior to 1994.
A senior member of the ERO, with much experience in dealing with home education reviews, wrote the following in an email dated 30 July:
The reality is home schooling has been found to be low risk. Several things stand out in my mind relating to home schooling and they are:
- home schooling families have support from other homeschoolers and access to people through support networks and
- through the Internet;
- home schooling families are no longer isolated unless they choose to be;
- there is easy access to a considerable range of resources;
- the skills of home schooling parents are well used;
- home schooling is being seen more as a viable educational option;
- ICT is a powerful communication and information gathering tool and home schooling families use this tool;
- people liked the affirmation that home schooling reviews affirmed good practice; and
- despite initial concerns the feedback ERO has received relating to the home school review process is mostly positive.
This person also felt that home education reviews would not be reinstated for quite some time.
Conjecture will not be slow among home eduators in relation to “what will the MoE do now? Will they make it more difficult to get an exemption?” There is no particular reason to believe this, apart from the obvious fact that National has the same totalitarian tendencies as does Labour…they only tend to move a bit slower. This coalition with the ACT Party, however, does change things a bit.
Heather Roy of the ACT Party is an Associate Minister of Education… home education fits perfectly into their philosophy of freedom of choice for parents in education and freedom of self determination in how to order one’s family affairs.
Back in 1995, the MoE instituted, for one year only, voluntary written reviews wherein home educators wrote to the MoE about how their home education enterprise was doing. The MoE said they really enjoyed reading the reviews as it was the only feedback they ever got from home educators after issuing the exemptions, the ERO being the ones to contact home educators after that. But the MoE also caught a lot of flak as a result of requesting these reviews, being accused of going outside their statutory powers in asking for such reviews and of trying to get home educators to incriminate themselves, etc.
What we home educators need to remember just now is that the current coalition government with ACT MPs holding Ministerial portfolios means we have friends in Parliament and an officially friendly MoE philosophy for the time being. This is a time to raise the flag of accomplishments, achievements, discoveries, the joys, benefits and satisfactions of the home education option to the population at largeand to the MPs in particular.
From TEACH Bulletin
No 130 July 2009
To see the rest of the articles in the July 2009 TEACH Bulletin:
July TEACH Bulletin 2009
NO MORE Reviews!!! Page 1
The Excellence of Home Education Page 1
Inter-Party Working Group – for increasing parental and student choice in education Page 2
Sweden Page 3
United Kingdom Page 4
NCEA Grades Dubious Page 5
A Bit of Political Advice to Home Educators page 5 http://hef.org.nz/2009/a-bit-of-political-advice-to-home-educators/
Coming Events page 8