MoE Meetings: 1st Meeting 17 July 2014 – Getting to know you
Red Tape Cluster Buster meeting 28 July 2014
This meeting was with Megan Reid (Senior Project Manager) and Mireille Consalvey (Project Coordinator) for the Change Team, which is a part of Sector Enablement and Support.
The aim of this project is to reduce or stop those activities that deliver little or no value to schools, ECE providers and the MoE, and to streamline and improve existing processes. In addition they are looking at resourcing forms and online templates that the Sector use. Their intention is to simplify these forms, and retire the ones that are low value. So this is MoE wide, not just with home educators. The purpose of meeting with us is to seek feedback from home education leaders as to how the current home educating process and practice works and how they can make this work better for us. This is an opportunity to think about a desired end to end process. I put these two links up on the HEF website about the meeting: MoE discussions and Preparation for the MoE discussion
First, it is good to look at the law for home educators in New Zealand: Education Law in New Zealand – updated with extra links. In all our talks we want to keep everything simple and according to the law rather than policy.
We first looked at the forms (exemption forms and declaration forms) and talked about the process of the ERO communications with home educators around ERO reviews, based on discussions home educators had online at Clutter buster group or (for ease of reading as not everyone can get onto the google docs) here… http://hef.org.nz/coming-events-archives-2012/red-tape-cluster-buster/
Megan and Mireille were very easy to talk with and seem to have a great understanding about home education. We managed to talk about everything mentioned in the link above.
Some highlights from our meeting:
Exemption Form online
Megan and Mireille were positive about the exemption form being online. We have suggested to them to let parents track their exemption application online. With exemptions taking 4-6 weeks to be approved this would help parents know what is happening. We hope that the time frame can be reduced, especially now that there are ten MoE offices approving exemptions.
Use of the Exemption Application
Megan was very understanding of the current process and wanted us to be aware that the Ministry understands that there is difference in current practice. What we write in the Broad Curriculum Areas and Curriculum Areas (hopefully these two questions will be combined to focus on the Home Educator Overarching Philosophy) in the exemption form sets the stage for how the MoE will look at the whole exemption application. In other words what we write in these two areas will be reflected in what we write in the Topic Plan and Regularity. So if we have a bookwork approach to our home schooling then the MoE will expect to see a Topic Plan and a Timetable. If we write up our understanding of natural learning/unschooling and show how we plan to go about applying it in our homes, then the Topic Plan and the Regularity questions should be answered quite differently to the way the bookwork approach will be written up – in other words they want to see how natural learning will work in our children’s lives.
There are 38,000 children truant every day from school; some are still on the school grounds but just skipping one class. When the MoE writes or talks to us, they have to obey the law and say that children have to be at school between the ages of 6-16. After reading a letter Jim Greening wrote to principals wanting them to concentrate on chronic non-attendance, I thought it was time that we addressed this for home educators. So I asked Megan and Mireille about it. Megan outlined her understanding of the Justified Absence and Unjustified Absence. More information about the absence definitions can be found at http://www.minedu.govt.nz/NZEducation/EducationPolicies/Schools/Attendance/ForBoardsAndPrincipals/Definitions.aspx. So after they left I searched around the MoE website to find out more about these terms. This is what I came up with: Truancy and the Home Schooler/Home Educator
I have asked the Red Tape Cluster Buster team to make “justified absence” a part of the process of applying for an exemption application. It is more likely that a school would be in agreement of an Explained (but unjustified) Absence if a Home Schooling application is pending. This will need to be worked through in greater detail.
Megan and Mireille want to have a lot more helpful information out there for home educators with Special Needs children. The national office realise that special needs children may be being educated in the home rather than in a mainstream setting. So they want home educators to know what services etc are out there for special needs children. Megan said that they want to have good flow charts, information, links, what is available, etc for home educating with special needs children in the exemption application package.
Megan and Mireille agreed with us that writing information about whether our children had been in an ECE during the last 6 months (when our children are turning 6 or being pulled out of school) is not a requirement of the current legislation and does not demonstrate to the MoE that we have the ability to “teach our child as regularly and as well as a registered school”.
“Principal notified of your intention to homeschool (in the case of a child currently enrolled in a school). The Principal of your child’s current school (or most recently attended school) will be asked to comment on the suitability or otherwise of home education as an option for your child.” We talked about the way different local MoE offices use this statement. Any contact with a previous school should not delay or interfere with the process of approving an exemption. There are other ways that a check can be made to see if the child is on the school’s roll. Presently the home educating community sees this as potentially causing additional problems for the child, and parents, in the school, when the MoE contacts them, while an exemption application is still in approval phase. It is the parents’ decision whether to home educate or not, not the school’s. When a principal is asked to comment “on the suitability or otherwise of home education as an option” they do not necessarily have insight into the home educating philosophy or different approaches planned to be used. Therefore it is a subjective comment currently being asked for by Principals with little contextualisation. Most schools are good about this but there are some where the school has a predetermined objection to the philosophy of home educating and this impacts on their response to this question. Megan and Mireille seemed to understand this and agreed that this statement and the process needs to be changed.
Please be patient
The MoE is at present making huge changes in all areas, not just home education, and it would seem that the changes could be good for home educators. Both teams are still meeting with home educators. They plan to involve home educators in the changes.
At this stage most changes have not happened yet. The ten MoE offices have been set up – but not all of them are able to approve exemptions yet. It will take awhile for these changes (once approved) to be operating in the local MoE offices. So we need to be a little patient.
In the meantime we need to help people get their exemptions with as little stress as possible. If you find challenges and barriers in particular MoE offices, there are other avenues that can be explored to continue a conversation. Our contact at the National Office is Lucy Ambrose – but first make sure an experienced home educator has seen your exemption application.
So it would seem that there are encouraging things afoot.
Please leave any comments you have on this. The Red Tape Cluster Buster team are still keen to hear from everyone. So if you have any comments (especially if they are not in the link above or mentioned here and you are not part of a group meeting with the Red Tape Cluster Buster team) on the forms and processes the MoE use for home educators then please leave them here so that I can pass them onto Mireille. Thanks.
MoE/ERO issues: http://hef.org.nz/2014/moeero-issues/
MoE Meetings: 1st Meeting 17 July 2014 – Getting to know you
From the Smiths:
Updated 22 April 2014: Two years 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:
Information on getting started: http://hef.org.nz/getting-started-2/
Information on getting an exemption: http://hef.org.nz/exemptions/
This link is motivational: http://hef.org.nz/2012/home-schooling-what-is-it-all-about/
Exemption Form online: http://hef.org.nz/2012/home-schooling-exemption-form-now-online/