April 24, 2014

ERO boss, Graham Stoop, has resigned


Graham Stoop


MOVING ON: Education Review Office chief executive Graham Stoop has resigned.


Graham Stoop has resigned as chief review officer and chief executive of the Education Review Office (ERO).

Stoop is leaving to be graduate achievement, vocations and careers deputy secretary at the Ministry of Education.

He is on secondment to the ministry as the chair of the ministerial advisory group on the reform of the Teachers Council.

He will take up his new role on Monday.

Diana Anderson has been asked to remain as acting chief review officer until the the next steps are decided.


From the Smiths:


Updated: 30 September 2013:  One year on (Craig Smith’s Health) page 7 click here


Needing help for your home schooling journey:



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




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/

Education Law in New Zealand

We are often asked:

“What does the law say about homeschooling in New Zealand?”

Here is the Act:

New Zealand Education Act 1989

The law: New Zealand citizens and residents between 6 and 15 to go to school

New Zealand citizens and residents between 6 and 15 to
go to school


Home Education: Long term exemptions from enrolment

   21. Long term exemptions from enrolment---(1) An
employee of the  Ministry designated by the Secretary
for the purpose (in this section  and section 26 of
this Act referred to as a designated officer) may, by
 certificate given to a person's parent, exempt the
person from the  requirements of section 20 of this 
   (a) On the parent's application; and
   (b) If satisfied that the person---
           (i) Will be taught at least as regularly and
well as in a registered school; or
           (ii) In the case of a person who would
otherwise be likely to need special education, will be
taught at least as regularly and well as in a special
class or clinic or by a special service.

   (2) A certificate under subsection (1) of this section
continues in force until revoked under this section.

   (3) If a designated officer refuses to grant a
certificate under subsection (1) of this section, the
applicant parent may appeal to the Secretary who, after
considering a report on the matter from the Chief
Review Officer, shall confirm the refusal or grant a

   (4) The Secretary's decision is final.

   (5) Every certificate under subsection (1) or
subsection (3) of this section shall state why it was

   (6) Subject to subsection (7) of this section, the
Secretary may at any time cancel a certificate under
subsection (1) or subsection (3) of this section.

   (7) The Secretary shall not revoke a certificate under
subsection (1) or subsection (3) of this section, unless,
after having---(a) Made reasonable efforts to get all the
relevant information; and (b) Considered a report on the
matter from the Chief Review Officer,--- the Secretary is
not satisfied of whichever of the grounds specified in
subsection (1) (b) of this section the certificate was
originally granted on.

   (8) If the Secretary thinks any person exempted under
subsection (1) of this section would be better off 
getting special education, the Secretary may revoke the 
certificate and issue a direction under section 9 of this 
     Cf. 1987, No. 177, s. 10

Special education


From the Smiths:


Updated  8 July 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:




This link is motivational:

Home Educators meeting with the ERO and MoE 12 July 2011

Liaison Meeting
National Council of Home Educators NZ


Education Review Office

ERO office in Wellington, Tuesday 12 July 2011.


Present: Chris Close of Auckland Home Educators (AHE); Audrey Wells of NCHENZ & AHE; Nina Wright of Canterbury Home Educators (CHE); Paulette Fawcett of Christian Home Educating Families (CHEF); and Craig & Barbara Smith of Home Education Foundation (HEF). Jenny Clark, National Manager Public Affairs, ERO; Rob Williamson, Senior Review Officer, ERO; Ralph Lane, Senior Advisor, MoE.
Apologies: Penny Bilton of NCHENZ; Graeme Stoop, Chief Review Officer, ERO.
Jenny Clark opened the meeting at 11:01am by welcoming us all, offering cups of coffee and tea and passing round a plate of biscuits to accompany the water already on the table. She explained that Ralph Lane was there as an observer only. Mr Lane said he was happy to interact, take notes and discuss any issues he needed to with his MoE colleagues later on (and presumably get back to us).
We home educators had previously submitted a number of written questions for the agenda, and these were addressed first of all. Here are the questions, straight from the agenda with commentary added in italics according to the ensuing dialogue:
ERO issues :

1. Summary of reviews over the past year

Rob informed us that in the past 12 months only 16 reviews had taken place, despite being contracted for 30 reviews. 3 in the Nelson area, 3 in the Wanganui area and 10 in the Auckland area. The Auckland reviews comprised of only 3 families, one of 5 children, one of 4 and one of 1 child (adding up to 10). Of these, only one was found to be “not taught as regularly and well as in a registered school,” and this was in the Wanganui area. Reviews are only done upon request and all the requests come though Ralph Lane. They always send two reviewers around to do the review. Rob & Ralph both said they do point people who are being reviewed to local support groups.

Comments from Rob Williamson: He said the issue prompting the review is often a lifestyle issue more than a concern over academics. He reminded us of how broad the academic standards can be “since home educators are not required to follow the national curriculum.” When we reminded Rob of how there were no blanket reviews (just like today’s situation) from 1994 to 1999, he said that Brian Donnelly brought the blanket reviews back in at that time due to a need for some accountability for the home schooling allowance being paid out.
Comments from Ralph Lane: That most complaints sparking a review came as a result of a marriage split. He gets the complainant to write down all the information they can to make a case. Then he asks himself, “Is it urgent?” Then he’ll pass it on to the ERO. They can get referrals from Child,Youth and Families, but they only want educational information from them. Unless the complainant can come up with specific educational issues, Ralph tells them in effect to “go away.”

2. Christchurch Situation. – how do things stand for Christchurch post-earthquakes.? Rob said the ERO are not doing institutional reviews (of schools) unless the school is doing well and can cope given the post-earthquake situation.

- where they ERO at with physical location and reviews in Christchurch?

- what staff are covering our area currently?

- how serviced are Christchurch home educators?

- how many reviews have been done in Canterbury over the past year? Rob said there were recently two requests for reviews of home educators in the Canterbury area. He would encourage anyone having a review to agree to do it rather than refuse, for then he would need to put in a negative ERO Review Report, and “We really don’t want to put in a negative report.”

3. How will the merger of ERO with NZQA affect the review process – are the people being retained the ones with the knowledge and experience of reviewing homeschoolers?
MOE issues

1. Christchurch Situation.
- are Canterbury exemption applications being fast-tracked?

- what is the current turn around time?

- any increase in number of exemption applications recently?

- how firm is truancy surveillance in Canterbury at present? It was confirmed that truancy was back in full force in Canterbury: yes, children needed to be in school, if aged 6 or over, before parents submit an exemption. The Canterbury home educators present seemed to think things were clicking along nicely at present, earthquake issues notwithstanding.

2. What if parents change from what they originally wrote on their exemption applications? (Rob made some brilliant comments: “The application really is an intent. And that’s fine.” He mentioned how people will change from one approach to another, from one resource or curriculum to another, and said, “That’s what a good practitioner does.” “It’s low risk.”)
3. Are there any specific subjects that we need to include to make sure we get the exemption? Occasionally a parent will ring to say they were told they need to include ‘Social Studies’ or ‘Technology’. Ralph Lane said an MoE officer might suggest such topics should there appear to be a rather wide and significant gap in the curriculum as described in the application. It is his opinion that to teach “as well as in a registered school” means to touch on a similar topic base.

4. We understand that home educators may continue to be considered as home educators by the Ministry of Education when they go beyond their 16th birthdays, as long as they are still being ‘taught at least as regularly and well as in a registered school’, and that they may continue to receive the home education allowance, and that this may even include taking one or two papers a year with the NZ Correspondence School. Would all of this still hold true if, instead of taking papers with the NZ Correspondence School, the young person took classes at the local Polytech? Or with The Open Polytech? Or at a NZ University? This was a policy issue which Ralph Lane would need to look into.

5. Will the proposed overhaul of the MOE affect homeschoolers, and if so how? Jenny Clark said that they couldn’t really say, as these kinds of changes take place all the time. Just “wait until you hear” was her advice.


1. Purchasing tuition from the NZ Correspondence School for homeschooled teens, as Young Adults, from Term 1 of the year they turn 16, instead of on their birthday. There was some round table discussion on this question. Again, this is in the realm of policy which no one person can determine. Home educators were urged to present their ideas to the Correspondence School and the MoE. One of the ideas was that maybe home educators could even pay a proportion of the NZ Correspondence Fees. The fact that home educators were in a small class of their own, being exempted from both enrolment and attendance at registered schools, may be an angle of approach to create new policy in this area, especially since any policy change would only apply to this small group and not open the flood gates of the general population.
2. Retaining / securing affordable access to NCEA for home educated teens. Positive mention was made of how the Correspondence School had put NCEA material up on their website for access by earthquake affected people, and in fact all people. No one was sure if it was still available in this way. But to have it permanently available to home educators would be a policy decision Te Kura (The Correspondence School) would have to make, perhaps at the suggestion of home educators.
National Evaluations
Jenny Clark had copies of recent publications to hand out: “Literacy in Early Childhood Servidces: Teaching and Learning”; “Framework for School Reviewws”; “Evaluation Indicators for School Reviews”. She suggested these documents would help home educators understand how the ERO approaches the Review process and the kind of thing they’re looking for. She also mentioned a document that was to be posted on the ERO website shortly titled, “Directions for Learning” which was looking at the NZ Curriculum and exploring the idea of “teaching as enquiry.” She thought this also might be of some interest among home educators.
General Discussion.

1. A home educator brought up a question on the exemption application about timetables. Ralph Lane said they were after some indication of one’s programme in terms of a “timetable”, “however you want to explain it. What’s the plan for delivery?”
2. Chris Close said that in Auckland they do annual evenings with the MoE wherein people such as Steve McGregor and his manager Clare would explain the exemption process for enquirers.
3. Audrey Wells thanked the MoE for the statistics available on the Education Counts website.
4. Chris asked Ralph Lane if there were any questions or comments the MoE might have for us home educators. “Not that I can think of…Sometimes the applications are on the thin side.” He said the numbers of applications coming in do fluctuate according to the time of year. A couple of things he said he’d like to see on exemption applications are some indication of longer-term plans and an attempt to match progress with National Standards. Then Ralph Lane said it would be good if exemption applicants would contact people such as us first so that their exemptions could be accepted first time around, without the MoE having to send them back for more information.
The meeting broke up very amicably right on 12 noon.


Extra comments from Craig on the ERO and MoE meeting 12 July 2011


ERO: Homeschooling

ERO: Homeschooling

Every child in New Zealand has a right to education.

While most New Zealand children are educated in schools, the Government also allows parents to make other choices. Some parents choose to take on the responsibility of educating their children. In order to do this, they will have sought and been granted an exemption from enrolling their children at registered schools. This is commonly referred to as homeschooling or home educating.

In granting this exemption, the Secretary for Education accepts that each child will be taught at least as regularly and well at home as in a registered school. If a child is not being taught as regularly and well as in a registered school the Secretary for Education can revoke the Certificate of Exemption.

ERO carries out reviews when requested by the Secretary for Education, or in other particular circumstances.

For more information please contact ERO.

Education Review Office – Corporate Office
Level 1, 101 Lambton Quay
Box 2799, Wellington
New Zealand

Phone: 0-4-499 2489
Fax: 0-4-499 2482
Email: info@ero.govt.nz

A Bit of Political Advice to Home Educators

A Bit of Political Advice to Home Educators

The Editor would like to mention two things: When to speak and when not to speak.

The news that there will no longer be regular blanket reviews of everyone of us but only reviews of those over which there are specific questions isundoubtedly good news.

But this is the kind of news to keep to ourselves. We do not need to speak of this to anyone outside. Why? Because those who do not like home education could use this news to claim we are not being monitored properly, but that we “unqualified” parents are free to teach — or not to teach — as we please. Ed Balls in the UK is using this argument to
justify vast new interventions by the state to make sure the children are safe. After all, if state agents don’t get to see the children on a regular basis, who will be able to tell whether they are being abused in the home or not? That is, parents are all guilty until proven innocent. There are too many out there who think that way. And there are some within the home education community who think this way too.

Last time reviews were stopped, in 1994 by Lockwood Smith, the NZ Home Schooling Association (NZHSA), also known as the Federation (now defunct), screamed to the press that we were being abandoned, that we needed and wanted reviews!! Their logic was that the Federation wanted to get in on the reviews, and had circulated a document to every library in the country explaining their rationale and offering to do this for the ERO for a mere $6M anually!

Home educators were shocked to find such manipulation for personal gain within our own ranks. And the MoE and ERO declined the offer.

That’s when we should not speak. We need to speak clearly, however, when we write our exemptions. Most of us do, but there is some thinking out there which says, “we need to play games by writing our exemption applications in School-ese, so that MoE staff can hopefully understand. They can only assess the exemption application in terms
they understand, which is compulsory schooling. But we are not schooling institutions, we are families, and most people in the school industry cannot grasp that fairly basic idea.”

OK, we must not let them think of us as schooling institutions, I agree, and so we call ourselves “home educators”  rather than “home schoolers.” But although MoE personel are a varied lot from anti- to pro-HE, they are able to grasp HE (home education) and even unschooling, autonomous learning ideas….they are just biased, some more than others, and school stuff is how they’ve been trained. They have a professional and personal stake in seeing things from  school” perspectives. But they can think, and some are actually interested in learning theory and educational alternatives. Writing exemptions is the primary way we HEs educate the MoE into the mysteries of home education, unschooling, thematic studies, classical, Charlotte Mason, Steiner, mastery, principle approach, delight directed, etc., etc. Because there are no standards, no objective checklist of specific items against which the MoE can measure or even scale our exemption applications (no legal standards), but only their policy documents and professional opinion, we need to insist on our independence and the maximum scope allowed by the legal parameters of “at least as regularly and well as in a registered school.” This is pretty wide, for a registered school is not the same as a state school but encompasses every school in the land from the most straight laced Auckland Grammar and Rangitoto College to the most alternative Tamariki and Discovery 1 in Canterbury.

Writing exemptions in school-ese can make them think we are schooling institutions just like them or that we’re trying to be like them: nothing could be further from the truth. Write just what you are.

If they insist we need to have a technology or social studies component, simply ask them to produce the Education Act chapter and verse that says so, which of course they cannot do. If they get stroppy on that one, let me know and I’ll send you a copy of a letter I have from the MoE making it clear that we do not have to include any specific topic or follow the National Curriculum Guidelines. If they say that they “must be satisfied that the child will be taught at least…” with the emphasis on “satisfied”, point out that they have to be satisfied with “regular and well”, not any particular subject.

And their list of subjects is pretty pathetic compared to all the subjects there are in the world: and they don’t even include law or politics or religion or economics or ethics or philosophy or budgeting or logistics…..subjects we each deal with every single day of our lives. So their National Curriculum Guidelines aren’t too hot anyway.

My position is that they do not have any legitimate or moral authority in the area of education, and I only cooperate with them grudgingly and only so far as needed to stay within the law. But we cannot let them stray outside the law nor require us to adopt subject A or skill B when neither A nor B is legally required. If we do not monitor the MoE, who will?

“State schooling in this country is an inherently political instrument for social and cultural reproduction…[T]he state controls what knowledge is taught in schools…through a regulated core curriculum and…through teacher education and certification…[U]niversal compulsory schooling for the working classes has always been concerned with social control. This was a major theme in the parliamentary debates that preceded the Education Act of 1877, and political
socialization has continued to be an important function of schools…the schools have always been required to transmit state ideology.” Who wrote that? John Codd, Richard Harker and Roy Nash, professors of education at Massey University on pp.10-12 in their 1985 book Political Issues in New Zealand Education. The funny thing is that they  aren’t against this, but were complaining that their pet ideology wasn’t the one being pushed through the schools at that time!

All the more reason to be out of that system, to stay out of that system and to warn all others to get their dear children out of that system of state indoctrination and propaganda.

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 http://hef.org.nz/2009/no-more-ero-reviews/

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

Coming Events page 8