Craig’s blog: Early Release Exemption

Early Release Exemption

“Hi Craig and Barbara
We are a homeschooling family, and I’ve enjoyed reading your Keystone Articles over the last few years.  Thank you.  They so often confirm things to me, when I have my doubts.
A query….our eldest turns 16 in May 2011, and we have been looking at doing a Telford Agricultural Polytechnic Correspondence Course.  It will be educating my child in the right track for the ultimate dream of an animal park or vet nursing. Am I doing the right thing by getting an exemption to ‘leave school’ early in order to slot into one of these courses in January, or is there a benefit in waiting till May.  Can we enrol in a course then and can we still get the Homeschool Allowance while my child studies since my child would then be 16.  I’m having problems trying to source this information from the MOE website, and thought you might have some greater insight into this.
Thanks for your time.”

Good questions.

The early release exemption, letting 15-year-olds get out early, is an option designed for drongos and trouble makers. Teachers under Labour last political term made too much use of this option, and so it has been pretty well closed off. You’d need to put a pretty good case to the MoE in order for them to consider it.

It is a real hassle, isn’t it, that the Polytechs generally are not allowed to enrol someone until they turn 16. You may be able to enrol your child by simply doing it and not mentioningthe child’s age…they may or may not check. This obviously is not a very satisfying way to go. However, if you can make a good case, being very insistent, the Polytech may be able to make an exception…the admission officers do have a degree of discretion and can get exemptions, if needed, from the MoE. I don’t have any idea how difficult such a move is.

Here is the deal with the home schooling allowance:

The exemption is automatically cancelled by law as soon as your child turns 16. However, the MoE will keep your child on its database as a home educator, and will continue to pay out the allowance, until the 1st of January after your child’s 19th birthday as long as you can keep signing the statutory declarations. So the question is, can your child enrol at Polytech and still get the allowance?

The MoE decided that one can enrol in the NZ Correspondence School for one or two papers (three is considered by them a full-time student) and still get the allowance. The NZ Correspondence School trades notes with the MoE, looking for home educators, so if you take three papers or more, they’ll find you out. I don’t know if they have a similar deal with any Polytech. I don’t see why not, if your child only takes one or two papers, but sadly, I’m not the one who makes the decisions. You may need to contact the MoE to get a ruling on that.

Is getting the NCEA qualification an issue for you at all? The NZ Correspondence School now gives its lessons free of charge to all 16, 17, 18 and 19 year olds so that they can study at home to get the NCEA Levels 1, 2 or 3. One does not need to get Levels 1 and 2 in order to get Level 3, but can enrol straight into Level 3 as a 16 year old…if you’d want NCEA Level 3. It is a University Entrance qualification.

If you find you’re stuck waiting until your child turns 16 and then having to wait for the Polytech’s starting date to roll around again, your child can make good use of his/her time in self-study and paid or voluntary work with vet clubs around the place…most of them are quite happy to take on genuinely interested volunteers.

Trust that helps! All the best!

In His service,
Craig Smith