December 20, 2014


Strict Standards: Only variables should be assigned by reference in /home/heforgnz/public_html/wp-content/themes/genesis/lib/classes/breadcrumb.php on line 378

MOE Policy Letter

6 August 2004

Dear Barbara

Thank you for your email of 8 July 2004 concerning homeschooling.

As you are aware the Ministry of Education has been modifying the form used by applicants wishing to homeschool their children. Many homeschoolers have responded to these changes with requests for greater involvement both in the detail of the changes to the forms and in discussion of broader issues that affect homeschooling. There have also been responses that support and appreciate the changes.

Homeschooling is a legitimate and recognised component of the New Zealand education system with on average about 5-6000 students receiving education in this way each year. Homeschoolers are diverse in their philosophies and motivations for their preference but united in their desire to educate their own children.

Homeschoolers and I share a common interest in ensuring all students given an exemption from regular schooling are successfully educated and that this occurs in safe surroundings.

The Education Act 1989 requires the Secretary of Education, before granting an exemption to homeschool, to be satisfied that a child will be educated at least as well as in a registered school. The ways that high quality education can be achieved can be as diverse as the reasons that motivate people to choose homeschooling as an option. Allowing that diversity to flourish while ensuring the obligations under the Act are satisfied requires some shared understanding between the Ministry of Education and homeschoolers about what everyone wants from education and how best that is achieved.

The direction of education policy in NZ and elsewhere is seeing much greater transparency and focus on outcomes?? broadly defined – and a greater focus on what constitutes effective learning and how it is supported in a range of different contexts. I am not intending to impose any particular limitation on homeschooling but rather seek some agreement on quality and how it can be articulated and developed. None of this seeks to convey any sense of curriculum regulation but highlights the need for homeschoolers, the Education Review Office and the Ministry to progressively develop greater shared understandings about learning outcomes and other dimensions of quality and how these might be best articulated in practice and in ways that meet our respective roles and responsibilities. Such understandings would be of mutual benefit for the Ministry and homeschoolers and provide greater assurance for homeschoolers and homeschooling.

Given the interest already expressed by homeschoolers for more dialogue with the Ministry on homeschooling matters, it seems appropriate to provide some more extensive opportunities for this to happen on an ongoing basis. I have suggested to my officials that the regional offices of the Ministry develop a process for dialogue with homeschoolers in each area. The structure and nature of the dialogue would be developed as appropriate in each region. The intent would be to establish a regular and ongoing forum to encourage dialogue across a range of homeschooling issues both at a practical and policy level. This would allow for systematic discussion between the Ministry and homeschoolers, and, while it would not be expected to achieve resolution of all issues, it would provide the forum for a more constructive and continuing dialogue. It would mean that issues such as ongoing improvements to documentation would take place in the context of a discussion. These discussions could be used, for example, for exploration of descriptions of quality, for dissemination of research, and for the maintenance of local support systems. Local offices of the Ministry of Education will be contacting homeschoolers to discuss appropriate forums that they may wish to attend in their area

The Ministry has already advised many of you of a process for the alterations to the application form for new applicants. I am informed that these changes are to simplify and clarify the form and are not changes in policy nor in the Ministry’s attitude to homeschooling. The responses so far are mixed with some appreciative of the changes while others reflect a preference for the status quo. Responses received through to the end of October will be considered before deciding if the changes will achieve what was intended. Some organisations expressed difficulty in giving a response by the earlier notified August date. To date many of the responses have focussed on the need for a much broader discussion rather than the detail of an application form. It would be preferable to separate the form from that larger discussion although I would expect that as the discussion progresses it may influence future forms. The Ministry has provided copies of the draft parent pack and information form to homeschooling organisations. Please contact one of the organisations listed below if you wish to make comment on the detail of the application form.

Ministry staff are looking forward to working more closely with you as part of their joint commitment to enhance education outcomes for children and young people who are homeschooled and will be contacting you again concerning arrangements for local forums.

Yours sincerely

Trevor Mallard
MINISTER OF EDUCATION

Homeschooling organisations that have the draft pack:

National Council of Home Educators of NZ Inc
P O Box 80144
Riccarton
Christchurch 8004

Home Education Foundation
P O Box 9064
Palmerston North

Canterbury Home Educators Inc
P O Box 8544
Riccarton
Christchurch

South Island Home Educators
P O Box 186
Rangiora
Christchurch

Auckland Home Educators Inc.
PO Box 91530
Auckland Mail Centre
Auckland 1030

??Home’s Cool ??
37 Barry Avenue
Whakatane

Tauranga Home Educators’ Support Group
9 Ruahine St
Tauranga

Christian Education New Zealand
P O Box 343
Dannevirke

Please like & share:

NCHENZ Submission Re: Draft Exemption Application

IMPORTANT?? PLEASE READ:
Over the past two months the National Council of Home Educators, New Zealand Inc has been working to complete a comprehensive submission to the MOE about their proposed exemption changes. The document is now in a final form and NCHENZ have agreed to a copy being uploaded to the HEF Webpage.

You can support NCHENZ by joining the organisation, but if you do not want to do this you can still support the submission.

NCHENZ requests that you please do not copy and paste parts of the document to your own submission.

If you agree with the submission in whole or in part, please write to the MOE advising whether or not you are a member of NCHENZ and then endorse all or part of the submission, as appropriate.

If you disagree with any part or indeed the whole submission then please feel free to write to the MOE alone or in groups to state your alternative position.

Submissions must reach the MOE by 30 November 2004.

The submission has been debated vigorously and at length by NCHENZ and the NCHENZ committee feels it sets a reasonable tone that will hopefully result in some concessions from the MOE.

If you have any queries please e-mail Julie Ward of the NCHENZ committee at
sward@xtra.co.nz

SUBMISSIONOF
NATIONAL COUNCIL
OF
HOME EDUCATORS, NEW ZEALAND INCORPORATED
TO
THE MINISTRY OF EDUCATION
REGARDING
DRAFT CHANGES TO ITS DESK FILE WHICH ESTABLISHES PROCEDURES FOR MOE STAFF DEALING WITH APPLICATIONS FOR EXEMPTION FROM THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 20 OF THE EDUCATION ACT 1989.
(HOME EDUCATION)

November 2004

INTRODUCTION

In August 2004 the Ministry of Education (MOE) made available to some home education support groups in New Zealand a new draft of part of its desk file which establishes procedures for MOE staff dealing with applications for exemption from the provisions of section 20 of the Education Act 1989 (“the Act”) which requires compulsory attendance at school by all children aged between 6 and 16 years. The part of the draft desk file which was released was the letter sent out by the MOE to prospective applicants along with a draft information pack (‘the Draft’). The application pack sets out, from the perspective of the MOE, the circumstances in which parents may choose to educate their children at home.

This submission sets out the response of The National Council of Home Educators, New Zealand Incorporated (NCHENZ) to the Draft.

WHO ARE NCHENZ?

NCHENZ is an incorporated society set up to encourage, promote, inform and advance the cause of home education in New Zealand at a national level.

NCHENZ was established in 1998 and its day to day running is overseen by an elected committee of between five and eight home educators. We currently have over sixty individual members and six group members, representing approximately 350 home educating families. Some, but not all individual members, may also be members of affiliated groups.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

  • This submission is presented by NCHENZ in response to the MOE’s draft changes to its desk file of procedures affecting home education in New Zealand.
  • There should be a global change in the document replacing all references to??homeschooling ?? with??home education. ??
  • The MOE should collect and publish data on the number of applications under section 21 of the Act it receives each year, the number of requests made for further information, the number of applications which are declined and the number of applications which are withdrawn.
  • Wherever possible provisions in the Draft should accurately reflect statutory wording.
  • The MOE does not have the statutory power to ask for updates on a home educating programme.
  • The position of the MOE regarding resources available to home educated children with special needs is unclear and unsatisfactory.
  • The details of the national home education support groups NCHENZ and the Home Education Foundation along with reference to the web resource www.home.school.org.nz be included in information sent to applicants.
  • The way the exemption application package is phrased appears to favour a fragmented subject based curriculum as a preferred delivery model. There is no justification for this approach under the Act. The Draft should contain an acknowledgement that home education offers the opportunity for a range of delivery models and recognise that the development of a self directed learner is a desirable and acceptable goal.
  • Questions in the Draft which ask for repetition of the same information should be removed.
  • The Privacy Statement needs major amendment in order to comply with the privacy principles set out in the Privacy Act 1993.
  • The requirement to notify a school principal before an exemption is granted is unacceptable to home educators.
  • The proposed checklist is unhelpful as it does not clearly relate to the information requested in the Draft.

BACKGROUND TO THE SUBMISSION

NCHENZ understands some groups were consulted about the Draft. Unfortunately consultation did not cover all home educators, and when the Draft was completed it contained changes which, although considered minor by the MOE, were of concern to home educators as potentially threatening to their rights under the Act. This resulted in many irate letters and emails to the MOE.

The heated response to the Draft was also a result of the frustration many home educators have experienced in the past in dealing with the original form and the application process. The purpose of this submission is primarily to address the changes proposed by the MOE but NCHENZ has also highlighted areas where home educators consider the MOE is seeking extraneous or irrelevant information.

For most home educators the exemption application process is the only meaningful contact they will have with the MOE. The impression made by the exemption process will affect the willingness of the home educator to extend any trust to the MOE in future dealings.

Bearing in mind the international research which indicates the degree of regulation over home education has little or no effect on the results achieved by home educators it is questionable whether the barriers to entry into home education and the degree of supervision of home educators in New Zealand is a justifiable use of taxpayer’s funds. A paper prepared for the Fraser Institute of Canada entitled??Home Schooling:From Extreme to Mainstream ?? by Patrick Basham which canvasses a considerable body of research and discusses major issues regarding home education is annexed as Appendix 1. This paper is reprinted with the permission of the Fraser Institute.

THE EXEMPTION APPLICATION PROCESS

Given the state of the regulatory regime we now turn to the exemption process as it stands.

As a goal NCHENZ considers any documentation sent out by the MOE to prospective home educators should be compliant with statute and a mutually developed and respected document which is found useful by all concerned, informing policy, procedure and practice. The documentation should make clear to a person with a genuine interest in home educating what is required of them without resorting to educational jargon. The documentation must not go beyond what is required by the Act. In other words, information requested should be of the nature and extent that a reasonable person would consider necessary to enable the Secretary of Education to be satisfied a child??will be taught as regularly and as well as in a registered school. ??

The MOE has expressed a wish to improve relations and communication with home educators. The application process needs to convey that message.

A widespread criticism of the current documentation is that the language used in the draft reflects a??school’ mindset that undermines and denies the equal validity accorded by law to home education. Nothing in the Act implies that home-educating parents should be assumed a priori to be failing in their duty. Part of home educators dissatisfaction with the application process stems from its perceived negative approach.

We have been given the impression, especially in our meetings with the MOE manager Jim Matheson, that the MOE perceives a gap in its welfare cover of home educated children. It is incidental to the daily attendance at school by most children that they are informally, passively and possibly even subconsciously monitored for welfare, and any gross physical abuse would be expected to be detected. Such welfare monitoring is not an objective of the education provision within the legislative framework. Indeed passive welfare monitoring in society is a natural and healthy function and goes on in particular with respect to, for example, children under five years old, to a lesser extent, young people over sixteen years old and old people. NCHENZ does not accept that considerations beyond that of educational welfare are relevant matters to be taken into account by the MOE in processing an application for an exemption under section 21 of the Education Act 1989.

NCHENZ would expect any concerns a school principal or a public health nurse might have about a child’s general welfare should be addressed when those concerns arise. The concerns are properly addressed to the appropriate authorities not the MOE in the context of an application for exemption under section 21 of the Act. The issues we raise here are covered in more detail in the section dealing with the Privacy Statement.

SPECIFIC CHANGES

The specific changes proposed by the MOE are addressed below and numbered for ease of reference. NCHENZ has presented the proposed change underlined at the outset and then commented immediately below.

NCHENZ would like to see a global change in the Draft replacing all reference to??homeschooling ?? with??home education. ?? Our members do not run schools, they educate their children at home and the change in terminology would represent an acknowledgment of that fact.

THE DRAFT LETTER

Change 1

It is important to understand that asking for additional information is common practice in assessing applications for exemption, and should not be interpreted as a rejection.

Requests for further information are a problem for prospective home educators because in many instances they create additional stress at a time when existing problems and concerns about a child’s situation at school are already weighing heavily on parent’s minds. They are no doubt also a problem for the MOE as they result in double handling of applications and in some cases heated exchanges with frustrated parents. NCHENZ also sees the requests in some cases as an attempt to push less assertive applicants into following the national curriculum or following school-like procedures with regards to scheduling, assessment etc when this is not required under the Act.

NCHENZ is concerned that there does not seem to be any reliable data available on the following points:

  • How many applications the MOE receives each year.
  • How many applicants are asked for more information.
  • How many applications are refused.
  • How many applications are withdrawn.

In meetings with the MOE figures of??about half ?? up to??almost all ?? applicants being asked for further information were quoted at different times and a figure of 10 per cent was stated as the proportion of applications which were refused. There was no information about the grounds for refusal or whether the refused applicants had exercised any of their rights of appeal under the Education Act. All estimates from both home educators and the MOE seemed to be based on anecdotal evidence. In order to formulate good policy and procedures NCHENZ considers it would be useful for the MOE to collect and publish this data.

The proposed change contained in the Draft is an improvement on the present form however the fact of the need to continually ask for further information raises issues about the clarity of the exemption information package, whether the MOE is exceeding its mandate in the information it is requesting and whether applicants are able to access sympathetic advice when preparing applications.

NCHENZ suggests many requests for further information could be averted if prospective home educators were able to make contact with experienced home educators via local support groups before they submitted their applications.

NCHENZ understands some regional offices of the MOE already provide details of local and national support groups as part of the application pack. NCHENZ would suggest this procedure be extended to all regional offices. At the very least NCHENZ requests that the following details of NCHENZ and the Home Education Foundation along with reference to the web resource www.home.school.org.nz be included in information sent to applicants.

Change 2

If you are declined a certificate of exemption

NCHENZ has no objection to this change.

Change 3

You should write to the …

NCHENZ has no objection to this change.

Change 4

Even if you do not wish to receive the supervision allowance you must complete a statutory declaration twice each year. This assures the Ministry that homeschooling is continuing.

The statutory declaration needs to be signed by a Justice of the Peace. (On the statutory declaration there is a description of who qualifies as a Justice of the Peace).

NCHENZ understands from meetings with MOE officials that MOE staff are bothered on occasions about the necessity for the statutory declaration. NCHENZ does not object to the attempt to avoid such queries by including the above information in the exemption application package however NCHENZ has doubts as to whether the change will achieve the desired result.

Change 5

The Education Review Office (ERO) monitors schooling in New Zealand including homeschooling programmes.

NCHENZ would prefer to see this provision more accurately reflect the statutory wording. NCHENZ suggests:

    ??Under section 328A of the Education Act 1989 the Education Review Office may carry out reviews of the educational services provided to exempted students and must carry out reviews when requested by the Minister to do so. ??

Change 6

You are not required to provide the ERO with a separate copy.

NCHENZ has no objection to this change.

Change 7

You may like to contact one of your local support groups for more information about how to prepare for an ERO review.

NCHENZ supports this change.

Change 8

This is intended to assure the Ministry that you are able to continue to provide an educational programme appropriate to the age and needs of your child.

Requests for updated information are rare and might arise where a review by the ERO has not occurred within the usual expected cycle. In the normal course of events an update will not be sought.

In terms of the Act an exemption can only be revoked by the Secretary for Education after he or she has considered a report on the matter from the Chief Review Officer. Any power to review the programme is vested in the Chief Review Officer at the request of the Minister not in the MOE. The suggestion here is that the MOE is introducing a further level of checking and review which is not mandated by the statute. The MOE does not have the power to ask for this type of information. If the MOE is concerned with the??usual expected cycle of reviews ?? by the ERO then the MOE should take up the point with the ERO, not home educators.

Change 9

Queries regarding health services (e.g. access to dental nurses) should be directed to local health providers. The Ministry of Education is not able to advise on healthcare services and it is important that parents seek information where it might be reliably found.

NCHENZ understands this is another provision included to avoid the unnecessary interruption of MOE staff by home educators seeking information the MOE cannot supply. NCHENZ suggests some addresses and phone numbers could be supplied, perhaps on the same sheet as support group details to assist home educators in contacting the correct providers. It is unlikely such information would need to be updated very often. This would present a more positive solution and improve the helpfulness of the form.

Change 10

If your child has special needs they may be entitled to additional resources. There is no requirement to apply for or access resources to meet special educational needs. You may or may not choose to seek support.

Despite a number of requests to the MOE, NCHENZ has been unable to ascertain exactly what special needs resources the MOE considers are available to home educated children. There should be more information in the draft about exactly what resources are being offered. Ms Kay Phillips of the MOE has indicated information is available or is to be made available on the MOE’s web pages. NCHENZ has been unable to locate any such information. Until NCHENZ can ascertain what is meant by the MOE it is difficult to make any useful comment about the change.

Concluding sentence

Finally NCHENZ would prefer to see the final sentence of the letter amended to read:
If you need more information before making an application please contact staff at this office or one of the home education support groups detailed in the attached sheet.

Attached to this submission as Appendix 2 is a list of the contact details of the national sources of information which should be included with the information pack.

THE INFORMATION PACK

Changes referring to Appendices

NCHENZ does not have any objection to the changes referring to the Appendices however given that Appendix A appears to contain the MOE’s official position on the interpretation of the Act NCHENZ considers that information might more properly be at the beginning of section 3.2 followed by an explanation that the kind of evidence the MOE considers necessary to process the application is set out below.

Change 1

3.2.3.1 Needs – Describe your child’s educational needs. Please describe any special educational needs of your child. The Ministry of Education Group Special Education can assist you if assistance is appropriate and sought by you.

As presently worded this provision is very unclear. The impression NCHENZ was given during meetings with MOE staff was that this provision was intended only to apply to children with special needs. NCHENZ acknowledges the Act does refer separately to special needs in section 21(1)(b)(ii). It is accepted there is a duty under the Act as presently worded to separately address special needs.

In the absence of any compelling need to simplify it is probably appropriate to follow the wording of the statute.

NCHENZ suggests there should be a heading??Special Needs ?? and the first two sentences deleted entirely and replaced with the following:

    “If enrolled in a registered school, would your child be likely to need special education, for example in a special class or clinic or by a special service? If yes, how do you plan to meet your child’s special educational needs?”

NCHENZ questions the use of the word??can ?? in the third sentence. Bearing in mind the pressure of special education services the word??may ?? might more accurately reflect the situation.

Generally, good design of a package such as the exemption application package would require moving from the general to the particular in which case this provision is positioned poorly within the document and should be moved.

Change 2

The National Curriculum Framework may serve as a guide but use of this is not compulsory. It lists seven essential learning areas and eight groupings of essential skills. These are listed below for your information should you wish to use the National Curriculum Framework as a guide.

This is a positive change which NCHENZ appreciates. NCHENZ acknowledges and commends the change that has been made.

Many of our members consider the boxed format gives the National Curriculum Framework (NCF) unwarranted prominence within the document and would prefer to see a simple list format. Some members have suggested an internet reference to the MOE’s web site would be more useful especially as copies of National Curriculum documents are not made available to home educators until after an exemption has been granted.

NCHENZ draws to the attention of the MOE the following quote from David Hood (former CEO of the NZQA) in his book??Our Secondary Schools Don’t Work Anymore ??(1998 Profile Books) at page 49:

    ??schools may achieve a balanced and broad curriculum in a number of ways; for example by organising their programmes around subjects, by using an integrated approach, or by using topic or thematic approaches. ?? He goes on to say??While ERO may not believe the curriculum has to be delivered through subjects, the process it must adopt to review schools supports a particular delivery model. ??

NCHENZ is of the view that this applies equally to home educators. The way the exemption application package is phrased appears to favour a fragmented subject based curriculum.

Many home educators feel the MOE is supporting a particular delivery model in the way this provision is set out. An acknowledgment of alternative delivery models would be welcomed. A number of home educators who have received requests for further information have been left with the impression that in practice applications are ticked off against the criteria of the NCF. This may be due to the fact MOE staff in regional offices are not aware of the status of the NCF vis a vis Home educators.

Change 3

For students at senior secondary level, list and comment on the delivery of the subjects your child will be studying.

The comments above regarding a preferred delivery model also apply to this change.

Change 4

Note how any relevant National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) requirements will be met. Should your child not be pursuing NCEA, simply state that this is the case. NCEA is unlikely to be relevant to primary age students. Consequently applications for primary-aged students do not require any reference to NCEA.

NCHENZ appreciates the acknowledgment that NCEA may not be relevant for home educated children. Perhaps the sentence could begin:

    ??There is no requirement for your child to pursue NCEA qualifications. If your child will be pursuing NCEA please note etc… ??

Change 5

Whatever source of curriculum guidance you select, you should be specific about the skills you want your child to learn and you should be clear about the maturity level and abilities of your child in relation to your curriculum.

As stated above NCHENZ considers this whole section is favouring a fragmented school like delivery model. NCHENZ would like to see an acknowledgement that home education offers the opportunity for a range of delivery models and further to see an acceptance that the development of a self directed learner is a desirable and acceptable goal for a home educator. Home educators tend to see the approaches towards home provision as ranging from autonomous at one end to structured (resembling a school approach in places) at the other, with every shade and combination possible in between. Autonomous education is an umbrella term for those educational approaches that follow the interests and motivation of the child. Such approaches tend not to be structured or follow strict plans or systems, which is not to say that there is no theory of learning in the parent’s mind or no observational assessment occurring. Rather, the??system’ used by the parent is a natural, intuitive one. For many children this approach works very well. There is a substantial growing body of research and significant anecdotal evidence showing this to be the case (A. J. Thomas (1998) Educating Children at Home. London:Cassell)

In order to enhance the ability … to function as self-directed learners, Mezirow offers the following guidelines:

    1. progressively decrease the learner’s dependency on the educator;2. help the learner understand how to use learning resources – especially the experience of others, including the educator, and how to engage others in reciprocal learning relationships;

    3. assist the learner to define his/her learning needs – both in terms of immediate awareness and of understanding the cultural and psychological assumptions influencing his/her perceptions of needs;

    4. assist learners to assume increasing responsibility for defining their learning objectives, planning their own learning program and evaluating their progress;

    5. organize what is to be learned in relationship to his/her current personal problems, concerns and levels of understanding;

    6. foster learner decision making – select learner-relevant experiences which require choosing, expand the learner’s range of options, facilitate taking the perspectives of others who have alternative ways of understanding;

    7. encourage the use of criteria for judging which are increasingly inclusive and differentiating in awareness, self-reflexive and integrative of experience;

    8. foster a self-corrective reflexive approach to learning – to typifying and labeling, to perspective taking and choosing, and to habits of learning and learning relationships;

    9. facilitate problem posing and problem solving, including problems associated with the implementation of individual and collective action; recognition of relationship between personal problems and public issues;

    10. reinforce the self-concept of the learner as a learner and doer by providing for progressive mastery; a supportive climate with feedback to encourage provisional efforts to change and to take risks; avoidance of competitive judgment of performance; appropriate use of mutual support groups;

    11. emphasize experiential, participative and projective instructional methods; appropriate use of modeling and learning contracts;

    12. make the moral distinction between helping the learner understand his/her full range of choices and how to improve the quality of choosing vs encouraging the learner to make a specific choice (Mezirow, 1981, pp. 22-23).

Mezirow, J. (1981). A critical theory of adult learning and education. Adult Education, 32, 3-24.

Change 6

3.2.3.4 Teaching methods?? It is also important to explain how you intend to teach your child, by outlining your method(s) of teaching for each subject area. This does not require you to give a detailed description of every method used in every lesson. An overview of some of the usual methods you may employ is sufficient.

Given that the child must be “taught” in the words of the Act this provision is probably reasonable however NCHENZ is of the view that this provision along with the Plan result in unnecessary repetition. NCHENZ questions why both are necessary? The MOE should choose which one provides the information required and delete the other one. Assessment and evaluation is referred to separately in 3.2.9 so should be deleted from the plan in 3.2.4.

Items 3.2.5 through to 3.2.11

Although there are no changes to these sections many applicants as well as experienced home educators find these questions petty and unnecessary. In particular the requirement to define a study area where most home education will take place and the request to provide a list of all resources available seem excessive and unrealistic requests.

Change 7

3.2.9 Assessment and Evaluation

Outline how you are going to assess and evaluate the progress your child is making. Please include how you will also evaluate your teaching methods in terms of your children’s learning.

The inclusion of a broad definition of assessment in the information pack might make many applicants far more comfortable in dealing with this question. Experienced home educators are aware from experience and from positive feedback during reviews by the Education Review Office that conventional assessment in the sense of paper-pencil testing (multiple-choice, true/false, matching, short answer) that typically must be completed within a specific amount of time is a very narrow definition of assessment and is not what is being asked for here. The baldness of the statement however makes it possible for such an interpretation to be taken. Some examples for those not versed in educational jargon might help applicants to enunciate their approach to assessment and evaluation in a way which will prevent the need for further information being requested.

NCHENZ would like to see an explanation that assessment and evaluation:

  • can be carried out in unobtrusive ways within the context of a child’s natural learning environment,
  • puts the emphasis on a child’s strengths and shows the parent knows what the child can do and what they are trying to do,
  • provides information that is useful to the learning process and establishes that both the child and the parent engage in a continual process of self-reflection and revision and
  • may involve such things as creating, interviewing, demonstrating, solving problems, reflecting, sketching, discussing, and engaging in many other active learning tasks.

Change 8

Many groups and organisations of homeschoolers operate throughout New Zealand. They are able to provide assistance and support to homeschooling parents in many ways. To find out about such groups, the World Wide Web (using searchwords such as homeschooling nz) or your local telephone book are likely to provide contact details.

A local Ministry of Education office can also provide advice and guidance. You may wish to contact a member of the Student Support team in an office near you.

NCHENZ would like to see this expanded to include specific reference to??home education ?? as a search word as well as contact details for NCHENZ, the Home Education Foundation and the URL www.home.school.nz

Applicants could also be directed to their local Citizens’ Advice Bureau which usually have details of local groups.

It seems unnecessary to include the contact details of all the local offices since presumably the applicant had to contact the local office to get the form in the first place. In addition the MOE is easy to find in the telephone book while support groups are not.

Change 9

I intend to delegate some teaching responsibility. YES/NO

This needs some clarification. Many, if not all home educators, will from time to time seek paid and unpaid assistance from others for academic tutoring as well as such things as the arts, crafts or sports. NCHENZ presumes this is not what is being asked here. The rationale of the statement is also unclear. There needs to be an explanation of why the statement is required, exactly what information is sought and the reason it is sought.

Change 10

PRIVACY STATEMENT

The personal information collected by the Ministry on this form is for the purposes of assessing your application for exemption from enrolment at a registered school.

The information collected may be used by or disclosed to other agencies, such as the Education Review Office, the principal of your child’s current school or (in the case of a child who has never attended school) the Public Health Nurse, for these purposes. Your information will not be disclosed to any other person or agency unless it is authorised or required by law.

The information about your child’s ethnicity is for statistical purposes and will not be published in a form that could identify an individual.

The Ministry of Education will hold the information collected and you have the right under the Privacy Act to request access to and correction of this information.

NCHENZ does not accept that the privacy statement meets the requirements of the Privacy Act 1993. NCHENZ cannot contemplate how any of the personal information provided in the application needs to be disclosed to any person or agency other than to ERO and only then for the purposes of conducting a review.

While the MOE does not expressly request information about a child’s prior educational experiences many applicants will nevertheless disclose such information in the application and in many cases this information may be critical of the treatment a child has received at school. There is no reason for this type of information to be disclosed to the school.

While the statement does not expressly say so it is implied that in contacting a school principal or a public health nurse the MOE will be seeking to collect additional personal information other than from the applicant. The MOE should collect all relevant information from the applicant directly. Privacy Principle 2 of the Privacy Act 1993 states information must normally be collected from the individual concerned. NCHENZ does not believe school principals or public health nurses should properly be in possession of any personal information, which cannot be collected directly from the individual concerned, that is necessary for MOE to assess whether a child will be taught as regularly and well as in a registered school. If they are in possession of any such information they would not be entitled in terms of the Privacy Act to disclose such personal information to the MOE. If the MOE intends to collect personal information from persons or agencies other than the applicant then it must seek the authorisation of the applicant to do so. The form contains no such request for authorisation and NCHENZ would be reluctant to recommend its members give authorisation until applicants were fully informed of the nature of the information being collected from other sources and the uses to which it would be put.

The second sentence should therefore be amended to read:

    The personal information collected by the Ministry on this form may be used by or disclosed to the Education Review Office to enable it to conduct a review under section 328A of the Education Act 1989. Your information will not be disclosed to any other person or agency unless it is expressly authorised by you or required by law.

Although reference to Principle 8 is not required as a part of the privacy statement NCHENZ is concerned that when the MOE holds information (however that information has come into its possession) it should not use that information without taking such steps as are, in the circumstances, reasonable to ensure that, having regard to the purpose for which the information is proposed to be used, the information is accurate, up to date, complete, relevant, and not misleading.

NCHENZ considers reasonable steps will require providing the applicant with an opportunity to view and correct all the information, obtained from any source and whether or not that information has been collected by the MOE, held about the applicant, or the applicant’s child, by the MOE. NCHENZ considers all information held by the MOE should be made available to the applicant, irrespective of any request by the applicant, before it is used to assess an application for exemption.

The MOE has indicated it needs authority to contact a school principal or a public health nurse to check up on risks to a child and potential abuse.

With respect NCHENZ submits that there is nothing in the Act empowering the MOE to make such enquiries and NCHENZ considers collection of welfare information is unlawful as well as being in breach of Privacy Principle 4.

NCHENZ appreciates that section 16 of the Children Young Persons and their Families Act 1989 ( ??CYPFA ??) provides that everyone who makes an allegation concerning child abuse in good faith to either the Police or a social worker with the Department of Social Welfare is absolutely protected against a complaint alleging a breach of the Privacy Act. Allegations of child abuse to anyone else, including the MOE, do not have the same statutory protection.

The Privacy Commissioner has said (in advice to schools):

    ??Common sense requires care in making such disclosures since allegations of child abuse are very serious. If the allegations are untrue, legal action could be taken against you. And if the allegations are made to the wrong person, (emphasis ours) then you are unlikely to be helping the situation and may only be making it worse. ?? (Slane B, Issues Paper 5, 31 May 199?)

NCHENZ submits that the MOE is not the appropriate agency to be involved in collecting information on welfare issues and further the MOE is providing a false impression to principals and public health nurses that they are legally protected in making allegations to the MOE when this is clearly not the case.

There is no statement which is compliant with Principle 3 of the Privacy Act nor an explanation of how individuals can access and request correction of their personal information as required by Privacy Principles 6 and 7.

Applicants should be advised of the details of the MOE’s Privacy Officer and be informed that as a public sector agency the MOE cannot charge a fee for providing information requested under Privacy Principle 6.

NCHENZ suggests the Privacy Statement be redrafted to take into account the issues raised and resubmitted to those who have made submissions regarding the exemption changes for further comment.

The Checklist

For a checklist to be useful it needs to refer back meaningfully to the document which is being checked. The checklist as presently drafted does not achieve this objective.

CHECKLIST FOR HOMESCHOOLING APPLICATION

Child’s needs have been described

This is only useful if the MOE are entitled to ask for this information and its inclusion will need to be subject to the clarification of clause 3.2.3.1 of the Draft.

Demonstrated knowledge and understanding of the broad Curriculum

This is acceptable.

Curriculum coverage for the first year has been described

Nowhere in the information pack does it state an applicant need to describe curriculum coverage for the first year. This point should be deleted.

Teaching methods described

This is acceptable.

Principal notified of your intention to homeschool (in the case of children currently enrolled in a school).

NCHENZ strongly objects to this point which again is not included in the body of the application pack and furthermore cannot in any way be related to the Secretary of Education being satisfied the child will be taught as regularly and well as in a registered school.

The stated explanation from the MOE that such notification is required to prevent allegations of truancy is inconsistent with the legal requirement that children have to be at school until they are exempted. The statement in paragraph 3 of the letter??Please remember that until this certificate is issued your child(ren) must be enrolled at and attending a registered school. ?? demonstrates this is also the MOE’s interpretation of the law.

For many applicants the relationship between the school and the applicant has irreparably broken down at the point where the parent has decided to withdraw the child from school. The notification requirement has potential to exacerbate an already difficult situation. NCHENZ would accept a request to notify a school once the exemption has been granted and applicants could be asked to send, or agree to the MOE sending, a copy of the exemption to the school. Applicants should be advised that sending the copy of the exemption to the former school is a courtesy not a mandatory requirement.

SUMMARY

  • There should be a global change in the document replacing all references to??homeschooling ?? with??home education. ??
  • The MOE should collect and publish data on the number of applications under section 21 of the Act it receives each year, the number of requests made for further information, the number of applications which are declined and the number of applications which are withdrawn.
  • Wherever possible provisions in the Draft should accurately reflect statutory wording.
  • The MOE does not have the statutory power to ask for updates on a home educating programme. This is the role of the ERO.
  • The position of the MOE regarding resources available to home educated children with special needs is unclear and unsatisfactory.
  • The details of the national home education support groups NCHENZ and the Home Education Foundation along with reference to the web resource www.home.school.nz should be included in the information pack sent to applicants.
  • The way the exemption application package is phrased appears to favour a fragmented subject based curriculum as a preferred delivery model. There is no justification for this approach in terms of the Education Act 1989. The Draft should contain an acknowledgement that home education offers the opportunity for a range of delivery models and recognise that the development of a self directed learner is a desirable and acceptable goal.
  • Questions in the Draft which ask for repetition of the same information should be removed.
  • The Privacy Statement needs major amendment in order to comply with the privacy principles set out in the Privacy Act 1993.
  • The requirement to notify a school principal before an exemption is granted is unacceptable to home educators.
  • The proposed checklist is unhelpful as it does not clearly relate to the information requested in the Draft.

CONCLUSION

This submission is addressed by NCHENZ to the MOE which has requested submissions from home educators on its proposed desk file changes.

NCHENZ is happy to meet with officials to further discuss the submission should this be necessary. NCHENZ requests reasonable notice of any such meetings as the committee members are full time home educators with responsibilities to their own children.

The National Council of Home Educators, New Zealand Incorporated
PO Box 80-144
Riccarton
Christchurch 8004
info@nchenz.org.nz

Please like & share:

MHE Submission Re: Draft Exemption Application

SUBMISSION OF
MANAWATU HOME EDUCATORS INCORPORATED
TO THE
MINISTRY OF EDUCATIONON
DRAFT CHANGES TO ITS DESK FILE WHICH ESTABLISHES PROCEDURES FOR MOE STAFF DEALING WITH APPLICATIONS FOR EXEMPTION FROM THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 20 OF THE EDUCATION ACT 1989.The Manawatu Home Educators (MHE) would like to endorse the two submissions below.

MHE does not belong to either of the groups, The Home Education Foundation or the National Council of Home Educators. We have no intention of belonging to either group in the future. We are an autonomous group within the Manawatu region.

In this respect when an exemption form is being sent out from the central region of the MOE (that is the Lower Hutt Office) we would like the have our contacts added along with the National groups.

The Manawatu Home Educators
P O Box 9064
Palmerston North
Phone: (06) 354-7699
Or (06) 355-2368

We believe another organisation that should be added to the National lists because it is a National Lending Library to Home Educators is:

Dayspring
P O Box 9064
Palmerston North
Phone: (06) 355-2368
Or (and Kirby’s number)

The Manawatu Home Educators is happy to meet with officials to further discuss the submission should this be necessary.

The Trustees
Manawatu Home Educators
Barbara Smith
Greig McLeay
Paul Dekker

Attached was the submission from the Home Education Foundation and the submission from NCHENZ.

Please like & share:

Home Education Foundation Submission Re: Draft Exemption Application

15 November 2004Submission on MoE’s Homeschooling Desk File
Draft of the Exemption Application Form
I. Introductory comments:Home educators have met with Ministry of Education (MoE) staff in Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland with mixed results. A common problem is that the MoE staff, understandably, have a difficult time seeing things from the perspective of home educators. In meetings I have attended, MoE staff have wondered aloud why home educators would get so worked up over changes to the wording of an exemption application form, changes which to them were insignificant. But when this form is the only point of contact between home educating parents and the MoE, and when the MoE has the power to force our children out of our homes, thoroughly disrupting our family’s chosen lifestyle, by the mere stroke of a pen, by some subjective judgement by a total stranger to our families as to how well we relate educationally to our own children ??.when this happens, it is no mystery at all why we get very concerned about proposed changes to this exemption application form.

II. Our Presuppositions:1.While the MoE has a statutory obligation to see to the schooling of children compelled by law to be enrolled and attend registered schools, as well as the statutory obligation to be satisfied that exempted students will be taught at least a regularly and well as in a registered school, we do not believe the MoE has the primary responsibility for the education of children. We say this for two reasons:

    a. This responsibility remains firmly with the parents. We would here echo Article 26(3) of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948:??Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children. ??
    b. Although Section 3 of the Education Act says that every NZ child??is entitled to free enrolment and free education at any state school ??, there is no corresponding legal requirement that any child be??educated ?? or??receive an education. ?? For example, Section 22A(2)(b), speaking of children removed from their homes and placed somewhere by CYFs, says CYFS must ensure the child??(b) Will receive education services appropriate to the person’s needs. ?? Note it says,??education services ??, not??an education ??. In a private conversation with past Chief Review Officer Dr Judith Aitkin I was advised of the fact that NZ law has compulsory schooling while other countries have compulsory education. The difference is significant.

2.The Home Education Foundation is committed to encouraging parents to take up the home education option as a way to more fully embrace their responsibility to educate their children. We are committed to seeing parents home educate within the law, yet we do not see any reason to acquiesce to requests to conform to standards, expectations or outcomes which are not required by law.

3.The Home Education Foundation is also committed to encouraging the MoE and ERO and other state agents to exercise their statutory responsibilities wisely and not to stray beyond the limits of the powers and authorities given to them in law.

4.The Home Education Foundation sees home education as the best possible way to provide a comprehensive, tailor-made educational curriculum to the children of home educating parents, one that would take him or her quickly and efficiently to heights of excellence in the realms of academics, socialisation, character training, work ethic, interpersonal relationships, spiritual understanding, emotional well being, participatory citizenship and maturity in wisdom and understanding. Parents willing to sacrifice a second income and spend 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year taking conscientious responsibility for every area of each child’s life for 16 to 18 to 20 years or so can be relied upon to accomplish these things with no state regulation, assistance or intervention ??.the logistical and relational advantages of the home education tutoring/mentoring scenario virtually assure every home educator’s relative success. Therefore we believe state involvement with the home education of exempted individuals should be kept to an absolute minimum.

5.Families are the most basic and essential centres of economic, social, educational, health and self-governmental well-being in all of society. The freedom to be different and express one’s ideas is as basic and foundational a freedom as they come. Home education families do not hand the responsibility of educating their children over to the compulsory state schooling system just because it is there or just because it is compulsory but instead pursue the perfectly legal and logical home education route. For these reasons, home educating families need to be dealt with as the unique individual, independent families that they are. They also need special protection and safeguards from overzealous state agencies and individuals who have a passion for conformity and do not appreciate, for whatever reason, diversity and independence in the education of children. Some of these people would, with every good intention, presume to tell home educators?? as unique as each of them is, and even though they are exempted from the system?? what to do and how to do it!

III. Good things about the Draft Application Form:1. In 3.1, The Information Letter: it now clarifies that a request for additional information is not a refusal of the exemption.

2. In 3.1, The Information Letter: it now says that local support groups may be able to help one prepare for an ERO review. This should go on to add the following contacts to help enquirers locate local support groups:

The Home Education Foundation
PO Box 9064
Palmerston North
Ph. (06) 357-4399
info@hef.org.nz
www.hef.org.nz

National Council of Home Educators of New Zealand
PO Box 80144
Riccarton
Christchurch 8004
info@nchenz.org.nz
www.nchenz.org.nz

Auckland Home Educators, Inc.
PO Box 91-530
Auckland Mail Centre
Ph. (09) 302-2866
info@home-education.org.nz
www.home-education.org.nz

www.home.school.nz

3. There is no change to 3.2.3.2????Describe your knowledge and understanding of the broad curriculum areas you intend to cover as you educate your child. ?? While the language is sometimes unfamiliar to those outside the school system, it is clear and acknowledges in the phrase??you intend to cover ?? that the home educator is not obliged to follow the National Curriculum Framework (NCF).

4. Statement 3.2.3.3??Outline what you intend to cover with your child in different areas of your stated curriculum ?? would seem to help elicit the kind of information MoE offices are looking for; the kind of information that most often causes applications to be sent back to parents with a request for more information.

5. Statement 3.2.3.3 says that the NCF is not compulsory but is included only as a guide.

6. Statement 3.2.3.4 about teaching methods seems very reasonable and addresses clearly and directly what the Act requires: as assessment of teaching.

7. The statement that a sample timetable is required has been dropped.

8. The definitions of regular and well in Appendix A are brilliant: account is made of maturity level and ability of the child and there is a total avoidance of any reference to learning outcomes, accurately reflecting the concerns of the Act.

IV. Bad things about the Draft Application Form:1. Although the??updating information ?? statement in the Information Letter that accompanies the exemption applications has been used for a few years already, it says,??From time to time you may be asked to provide the MoE with an update of your homeschooling programme. ?? Theoretically this could amount to a whole new exemption application. It raises the issue of the MoE’s interpretation of Section 21 of the Education Act that they need to be not just??satisfied ?? but satisfied on an on-going basis. This appears to be the MoE going beyond the clear statement of the Act. Once the exemption is issued, according to the Act, the child is exempt until he turns 16 or until the MoE revokes the exemption. Revoking the exemption can only happen after an ERO review. There is no provision in the Act for??updates ??. This statement also says it would be used rarely, as the MoE relies upon the ERO reviews to remain satisfied on an on-going basis. For these reasons, this entire section on??Updating Information ?? should be dropped altogether.

2. Statement 3.2.3.1 says:??Describe your child’s educational needs. ?? This request is far too ambiguous, subjective and personal as well as being outside what is required by Section 21 of the Act. It should therefore be dropped.

3. Statement 3.2.3.1 on special needs is unclear. The first draft had a sufficient statement which also alerted applicants to the fact that the Act specifically addresses the exemption of children with special needs. The statement read, ??In accordance with S21(1)(b) of the Education Act 1989 please describe any special educational needs of your child including a special education assessment and report if applicable. ?? The Foundation suggests the MoE drop statement 3.2.3.1 and replace it with this underlined statement.

4. The final part of statement 3.2.3.3 says,??you should be specific about the skills you want your child to learn and you should be clear about the maturity level and abilities of your child in relation to your curriculum ??. This statement is fishing for information way outside of what is required by the Act’s wording that the child be??taught at least as regularly and well as in a registered school. ?? Learning outcomes do not need to be specified; maturity levels and abilities do not need to be described. This should be dropped, for it is the teaching, not the learning, which is being assessed in the application.

5. Although Statement 3.2.6,??Describe study area in the home… ?? has been there for many years, it is superfluous and unnecessary as it is outside the requirements of Section 21 of the Act. It should be dropped.

6. Statement 3.2.8 about social contact has also been there for years and is still as irrelevant to and totally outside of the requirements of Section 21 of the Act as ever. It is time to drop it.

7. The first part of statement 3.2.8 has been there for years????Outline how you are going to assess and evaluate the progress your child is making ?? – but needs to be dropped as it is the teaching, not the learning that is being assessed and evaluated. The second part, newly added in this draft????Please include how you will also evaluate your teaching methods ?? – is accurately addressing the concerns of the Act: evaluating the teaching. But the final phrase,??in terms of your children’s learning ?? is again outside the Act’s requirements and should be dropped.

8. The exemption application includes a privacy statement which is totally unacceptable. It says,??The personal information collected by the Ministry on this form is for the purposes of assessing your application for exemption from enrolment at a registered school. The information collected may be used by or disclosed to other agencies, such as the ERO, the principal of your child’s school or (in the case of a child who has never attended school) the Public Health Nurse, for these purposes. Your information will not be disclosed to any other person or agency unless it is authorised or required by law. ?? It is unacceptable for the following reasons:

    a. The statement raises the question of whether the information collected can be passed to other agencies unless??authorized or required by law. ?? The MoE has not shown that it is authorised by law to pass on this information to either principals or to public health nurses. The Home Education Foundation does not believe that it is, but that it hopes to have parents waive their right to privacy in this area by endorsing signing the statement.
    b. MoE staff have informed me privately that the reason the MoE may pass on this information to a principal or a public health nurse is to flush out any suspicions the principal or health nurse may have in regards to the family making the exemption application. This is unacceptable.
    c. This privacy statement says the information collected??is for the purposes of assessing your application for exemption ??, that is, that the child will be taught at least as regularly and well. It is clear that passing this information to a Public Health Nurse will not further such an assessment.

This privacy statement’s second sentence,??The information collected may be used by or disclosed to other agencies, such as the ERO, the principal of your child’s school or (in the case of a child who has never attended school) the Public Health Nurse, for these purposes ?? needs to be amended to read as follows:??The information collected may be used by or disclosed to the ERO for these purposes. ?? The rest can be kept as is.

Regards,
Craig Smith

Please like & share:

Draft Exemption Application Comments

We have until the end of this month, November 2004, to make submissions on the Ministry of Education’s Draft Exemption Application Form. The??Privacy Statement ?? the MoE has included on this form is, in my opinion, totally unacceptable. (See my comments below under point 8 of section III, Bad things about the Draft Application Form.) Please consider writing a submission on this Application Form to the MoE’s Kay Phillips today!Below is my take on the Draft Exemption Application in a condensed form. Lengthier comments appeared in the TEACH Bulletin 82 of June 2004, the monthly legislative/political/educational trends update newsletter published by the Home Education Foundation. The material below also appeared in TEACH Bulletin 86 of October 2004.

    I. Background
    II. Good things about the Draft Application Form
    III. Bad things about the Draft Application Form

I. BackgroundThe MoE proposed some changes to the exemption application form at the end of June this year. A few draft copies of these proposed changes
leaked out with the covering note that the changes were to be finalised by the end of that week. When it was found that the MoE had not widely consulted with home educators regarding these changes, as previous MoE staff had always assured us they would do, the MoE was flooded with hundreds of prickly emails, MPs were alerted and even the media took an interest.

The MoE relented somewhat and re-drafted the changes (that is, they actually went to the trouble to write a new draft exemption application form ??.it would seem the prickly emails had an effect!) They said they’d receive submissions on this new draft from home education organisations (implying they did not want to hear from individuals) until the end of September. Then they changed it to the end of October. The latest is that they’ll receive submissions until the end of this month, November. So we need to act now! (Lengthy comments on this draft were printed in TEACH Bulletin 82, June 2004.)

The Education Act 1989, Section 21 states that the MoE may exempt a person from the compulsory enrolment required in law??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. ??

II. Good things about the Draft Application Form(These comments are condensed and, after much further thought, different in places to my earlier comments as they appeared in TEACH Bulletin 82.)

1. The covering information letter now clarifies that a request for additional information is not a refusal of the exemption.

2. They’ve added that local support groups may be able to help one prepare for an ERO review.

3. They make no change to 3.2.3.2????Describe your knowledge and understanding of the broad curriculum areas you intend to cover as you educate your child. ?? While the language is sometimes unfamiliar to those outside the school system, it is clear and acknowledges in the phrase??you intend to cover ?? that the home educator is not obliged to follow the National Curriculum Framework (NCF).

4. Statement 3.2.3.3:??Outline what you intend to cover with your child in different areas of your stated curriculum ?? would seem to help elicit the kind of information MoE offices are looking for; the kind of information that most often causes applications to be sent back to parents with a request for more information. It is simply asking to flesh out the broad curriculum areas a bit.

5. They’ve stated in 3.2.3.3 that the NCF is not compulsory but is included only as a guide.

6. Statement 3.2.3.4 about teaching methods:
??3.2.3.4 Teaching methods?? It is also important to explain how you intend to teach your child, by outlining your method(s) of teaching for each subject area. This does not require you to give a detailed description of every method used in every lesson. An overview of some of the usual methods you may employ is sufficient. ?? This seems very reasonable and addresses clearly and directly what the Act requires: an assessment of teaching.

7. The statement that a sample timetable is required was dropped.

8. Definitions of regular and well in Appendix A are brilliant: account is made of maturity level and ability of child and total avoidance of any reference to learning outcomes, accurately reflecting the concerns of the Act.

III. Bad things about the Draft Application Form1. Although the??updating information ?? statement in the Information Letter that accompanies the exemption applications has been used for a few years already, it says,??From time to time you may be asked to provide the MoE with an update of your homeschooling programme. ?? Theoretically this could amount to a whole new exemption application. It raises the issue of the MoE’s interpretation of Section 21 of the Education Act that they need to be not just??satisfied ?? but satisfied on an on-going basis. Perhaps it is time home educators challenge this interpretation by the MoE. Once the exemption is issued, according to the Act, the child is exempt until he turns 16 or until the MoE revokes the exemption. Revoking the exemption can only happen after an ERO review. There is no provision in the Act for??updates ??, so we should object to them.

2. Statement 3.2.3.1 says:??Describe your child’s educational needs. ?? This request is far too ambiguous, subjective and personal as well as being outside what is required by Section 21 of the Act. It should therefore be dropped.

3. Statement 3.2.3.1 on special needs is unclear. It says:??3.2.3.1 Needs – Describe your child’s educational needs. Please describe any special educational needs of your child. The Ministry of Education Group Special Education can assist you if assistance is appropriate and sought by you. ?? The original first draft the MoE came up with had what seems to be a sufficient statement that also alerted applicants to the fact that the Act specifically addresses the exemption of children with special needs. The statement read,??In accordance with S21(1)(b) of the Education Act 1989 please describe any special educational needs of your child including a special education assessment and report if applicable. ?? We reckon the MoE should adopt this statement in place of the present statement 3.2.3.1.

4. The final part of statement 3.2.3.3 reads,??you should be specific about the skills you want your child to learn and you should be clear about the maturity level and abilities of your child in relation to your curriculum ?? and is fishing for information which is not needed to satisfy the Act’s requirements that the child be??taught at least as regularly and well as in a registered school. ?? Learning outcomes do not need to be specified; maturity levels and abilities do not need to be described. This should be dropped, for it is the teaching, not the learning, which is being assessed in the application.

5. Although Statement 3.2.6 saying,??Describe study area in the home ?? ?? has been there for many years, it is superfluous and unnecessary as it is outside the requirements of Section 21 of the Act. It should be dropped.

6. Statement 3.2.8 about social contact has also been there for years and is still as irrelevant to and totally outside of the requirements of Section 21 of the Act as ever. It is time to drop it.

7. The first part of statement 3.2.8 has been there for years????Outline how you are going to assess and evaluate the progress your child is making ???? but needs to be dropped as it is the teaching, not the learning that is being assessed and evaluated. The second part, newly added in this draft????Please include how you will also evaluate your teaching methods ???? is accurately addressing the concerns of the Act: evaluating the teaching. But the final phrase,??in terms of your children’s learning ?? is again outside the Act’s requirements and should be dropped.

8. The exemption application includes a privacy statement that I personally consider unacceptable. It says,??The personal information collected by the Ministry on this form is for the purposes of assessing your application for exemption from enrolment at a registered school. The information collected may be used by or disclosed to other agencies, such as the ERO, the principal of your child’s school or (in the case of a child who has never attended school) the Public Health Nurse, for these purposes. Your information will not be disclosed to any other person or agency unless it is authorised or required by law. ??

I’ve written to Kay Phillips of the MoE in August, September and again in October asking more pointed questions about this privacy statement each time. No replies at all so far. Here are my latest questions:

A) Is the MoE authorised by law to pass on this information to either principals or to public health nurses? Is it a blanket authorisation or restricted to certain instances? Please refer me to the exact statute, section and sub-sections that give the MoE this legal authorisation.B) Can you please confirm or correct my understanding that the reason the MoE may pass on this information to a principal or a public health nurse is to flush out any suspicions the principal or health nurse may have in regards to the family making the exemption application?

C) How, specifically, does personal information collected by the MoE in the exemption application further the purpose of assessing the application by being passed on to the Public Health Nurse? How does the Public Health Nurse help the MoE assess whether the child will be taught at least as regularly and well as in a registered school?

I don’t think it wise for us home educators to let this kind of information passing become established without some clear answers from the MoE as to whether they even have the legal right to do it.

The MoE will receive submissions until the end of November. I’ve given a few ideas above as to what the issues are and how one might like to respond. Post your submissions to Kay Phillips,
kay.phillips@minedu.govt.nz PO Box 1666, Wellington.
She should also provide you with a copy of the draft exemption application. Or you can view it by clicking the link below.

The Draft Application Form

Please like & share:

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)