December 14, 2019

Email to the MoE about the Scoping Survey from a Home Educator

The MoE have told Dr. Yumiko Olliver-Gray that they will be replying to this email tomorrow.

To: home.schooling@minedu.govt.nz

Hi there
I am a homeschooling parent in the Kapiti area and I would be happy to share feedback with you on what elements of homeschooling work well or could be enhanced.
However, as homeschooler, researcher and former government employee, I have some concerns about the way in which this feedback is being gathered and the information that is provided with it. I believe that the Ministry of Education (MoE) is seeking this feedback/information with the best intent, but without a robust process in place, the data may not be as useful as intended, and the information (and the MoE) may be open to criticism as a consequence.
While this may not be intended to be a ‘major survey’ (in which case this should be clearly indicated), there are several areas that should be considered both in relation to the information provided about the ‘feedback’ and what will be done with it:
1. Background information
While there is a cover letter with the ‘feedback form’ – it does not advise the recipients:
 a) why this feedback is being asked for (what is the rationale for it? who prompted it? Is it requested by the Minister or is it less formal? is it purely ‘scoping’ for more detailed research?) – this also shapes the information respondents will provide.
 b) what will be done with this information (it is advised that it will be gathered into a report, but who is the report for? What is the report going to do? who is collating the information and analysing it?)
c) Who has this letter gone to? (many in my area did not personally receive a letter or email; this raises questions as to whether only ‘selected’ respondents were initially approached and if so why?)
2. Confidentiality and ethics.
As a minimum, government agencies, when gathering data, need to be very clear about the following:
a. The confidentiality associated with the information – can it be linked to individuals (and will it be)? In relation to this, a clear ‘clause’ about the maintenance of confidentiality/privacy should be included in the covering letter
b. Who will see the ‘raw data’?
c. What will happen to the information once it has been processed? (will it be destroyed, kept for future reference or used to inform other reports, policy etc?)
d. Other ethical points for consideration include the right to retract or withdraw information provided and the right to anonymity if desired.
3. Interpreting the information
How will the information be collated and understood when it comes back – here I have two major concerns:
a) while it has been indicated that the feedback form doesn’t need to be adhered to and feedback in any other form is fine, what needs to be clearly defined is  what the MoE wants to know. What is meant by ‘success’? What is meant by ‘what’s working’ (for whom? between whom?).
The information you may receive could be hugely varied, making it impossible to draw conclusions from (although this in itself could be significant); it would also make the time and effort (from both the MoE and homeschooling respondents) somewhat obsolete.
b) There a many variables that impact homeschooling – this ranges from choice of curriculum or  philosophy, number of children being homeschooled, length of time homeschooling, location, support networks etc. As none of these variables are included in the feedback, interpreting the information you receive could be very superficial and worse, incorrect in how it is represented.
These points suggest a need for greater understanding of the diversity within homeschooling in NZ (which may be the point of acquiring the feedback).
It is likely that I am not alone in voicing these concerns to the MoE. As a community, we are critical thinkers who question intent when it is not clearly articulated. This can be damaging to building an on-going relationship between the MoE and the homeschooling community.
As homeschoolers, our time and energy is precious and needs to be concentrated into our children; hence clarity and transparency are important. While the process and purpose of gathering this information may have less importance for the MoE, it is significant to how and whether homeschoolers will respond to it.
I would be grateful if you could provide me with responses to some of the queries outlined above as this will assist me with providing you with relevant feedback – which, as I indicated at the outset, I am happy to do.
I look forward to your reply
Dr. Yumiko Olliver-Gray
The MoE have told Dr. Yumiko Olliver-Gray that they will be replying to this email tomorrow.
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Home Education Foundation link on the Scoping Survey:
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Please share/forward this link with other home educators.

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From the Smiths:

http://hef.org.nz/2011/craig-smith-26-january-1951-to-30-september-2011/

Updated 22 September 2014:  Two years on (Craig Smith’s Health) page 7 click here

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Needing help for your home schooling journey:

http://hef.org.nz/2011/needing-help-for-your-home-schooling-journey-2/

And

Here are a couple of links to get you started home schooling:

Information on getting startedhttp://hef.org.nz/getting-started-2/

and

Information on getting an exemptionhttp://hef.org.nz/exemptions/

This link is motivational: http://hef.org.nz/2012/home-schooling-what-is-it-all-about/

Exemption Form online: http://hef.org.nz/2012/home-schooling-exemption-form-now-online/

Coming Events: http://hef.org.nz/2013/some-coming-events-for-home-education-during-2013-2/

Beneficiaries: http://hef.org.nz/2013/where-to-for-beneficiary-families-now-that-the-social-security-benefit-categories-and-work-focus-amendment-bill-has-passed-its-third-reading/

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