By Stuart Chapman
Home education has flourished in Australia from the 1970s to the present, despite periodic legislative battles in all six states and two territories. Australian Christian Home Schooling (ACHS) is the largest homeschooling organisation in Australia and has over 30 years experience providing home schooling support and expertise to families throughout the South Pacific region. AHCS manager Stuart Chapman provides a glimpse into the state of homeschooling in the land down under.
As of November 2011, the number of students registered for home schooling in Australia was 10,121. This includes 891 students in South Australia (SA) who were exempted from school attendance. In SA there is no provision for home schooling in the Education Act and exemption is the mechanism by which children can be taught at home.
Victoria is the state where registration is easiest and only requires notification and a signed affidavit that a child is being instructed in the eight learning areas as prescribed by the state government.
All other states require a visit from a government representative, usually called a moderator. These visits vary from state to state in terms of expectations and compliance requirements. It is extremely rare that conflicts are resolved in court.
Parents are also required to submit a program for each child, mapping their program to the state curriculum. This can be a daunting task, especially for parents who are just starting home schooling. In order of popularity, the most used methods for home schooling in Australia are the eclectic approach, followed by natural learning, and then those who use a whole curriculum package.
The ratio of home-educated students to school students varies considerably between Australian states as can be seen in the table below:
|Number of registered students||Ratio of homeschooled children per 1000 school-aged children|
|Australian Capital Territory||136||1.9|
|New South Wales||2,443||1.6|
|South Australia||891 (exempt)||2.7|
In Australia the term “under the radar” is commonly used to refer to families who choose not be registered. The number of children who are unregistered is impossible to determine but estimates range from an extra 5,000 to 15,000 students.
Another 4,000 students are educated at home through non-government distance education. Many of these families would consider themselves to homeschoolers even though the school is directing their curriculum. Parents who choose distance education do not have moderator visits or any reporting requirements. This is an area of rapid growth in Australia. One of the major reasons that families choose to send their children back to school is financial. The average price for an Australian home is around $500,000 USD, which usually requires a dual income to pay the mortgage.
Home schooling families are by definition single income and most choose to rent rather than buy as they see it is more important to invest in their children’s education and character than in buildings.
There are home schooling support groups in all capital cities but isolation is still an issue in rural communities.
Overall, home schooling is gradually becoming more accepted by both the community in Australia and by tertiary education institutions, as the number of students who have achieved success at university or in the workplace increases.
From the Smiths:
Updated 30 January 2012: Life for Those Left Behind (Craig Smith’s Health) page 6 click here
Needing help for your home schooling journey:
Here are a couple of links to get you started home schooling: