September 22, 2014


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Feedback Form (Problem Scoping Survey) on MoE website

From the MoE website:

http://www.minedu.govt.nz/Parents/AllAges/EducationInNZ/Homeschooling.aspx

We are currently seeking feedback from parents/caregivers who are home educating their children to understand what is working well and what could be improved. The feedback letter and form was emailed to those home educators that we have current email addresses for on 5 September 2014. The form can also be downloaded by clicking on the below link. Feedback closes on 26 September 2014. The Ministry will then collate the feedback and provide homeschoolers with a copy of this information and the next steps by 30 November 2014.

The feedback form is intended as a guide; feedback can be provided in any form via home.schooling@minedu.govt.nz.

For any queries please email home.schooling@minedu.govt.nz or phone 04 463 8946.

Feedback Letter 
Feedback Form

Click on this link to go to the MoE website:  http://www.minedu.govt.nz/Parents/AllAges/EducationInNZ/Homeschooling.aspx

Home Education Foundation comments on the form:

Problem Scoping Survey and the need for us to fill it out

I have heard from a lot of people (especially from those who have been home educating for a long time) that they are not going to be filling in the MoE scoping survey. I would like to encourage you think seriously about filling out the Problem Scoping Survey.

MoE scoping Home Educators

The National Office of the MoE is sending out an email or snail mail letter to all home educators today. They have asked us to put it up on our websites and pass around to other home educators.
Jim Greening’s letter to us all: scoping_letter

and the Problem scoping survey: Problem_scoping-1

I have also heard from a lot of people that they have not received their email or snail mail letter. If you have not received this then please let me know your email address and I will get the National Office to send it to you. (I will not use your email address for any other purpose.) The National Office wants all home educators to receive this scoping survey.

There are many reasons why a lot of home educators are not wanting to fill out this survey – and in the old days I would have been one of them. But I believe that we can look optimistically towards the future and I say this based on my experiences with the National Office of the MoE since July 2014.

Here is the background for those who have not read these links yet.

In April I wrote two letters  to the MoE and Jim Greening answered them both (dated 30 June). Please read my two letters and Jim’s reply. http://hef.org.nz/2014/moeero-issues/.  The good news from these letters is that we have been able to address these issues with the MoE in two meetings of 15 and 28 July. Other home educating groups have been meeting with the MoE and discussed similar issues with them. Some of the issues have been resolved and others are still ongoing. I will explain shortly.

July 1 the MoE had some major changes. Those involved with home education in the MoE: Hon Hekia Parata (Minister of Education); Peter Hughes (Secretary of Education); Jim Greening (Group Manager, Schools and Student Support); Sonya Logan (Manager, Student Engagement) and Lucy Ambrose (Senior Advisor, Learner Engagement). Red Tape Cluster Buster team Megan Reid (Senior Project Manager) and Mireille Consalvey (Project Coordinator) for the Change Team, which is a part of Sector Enablement and Support.

July 15 I had a Scoping meeting with the Jim Greening, Sonya Logan and Lucy Ambrose: http://hef.org.nz/2014/moe-meetings-1st-meeting-15-july-2014-getting-to-know-you/. This meeting was for the new staff in the MoE National Office to find out what home education was all about from home educators. There was a second aim to find out who they would like to have on a team for ongoing discussions – more on this soon. At this meeting we talked at length about a family who had failed their ERO review and were declined a second ERO review. We talked about the issues and policies surrounding all of this which resulted in the failed ERO review and why there was no second ERO review. Jim, Sonya and Lucy agreed that there needs to be changes. The good news from all of this is that this family now have new exemptions (third letter in link) signed by Jim himself. Another issue that was dealt with was the need to keep records and it is not about keeping records at all, but preparing when we need to for either the “ERO, further education or training”. See more here: http://hef.org.nz/2014/record-of-progress-and-achievement/

July 28 Red Tape Cluster Buster Meetinghttp://hef.org.nz/2014/moe-meetings-2nd-meeting-28-july-2014-red-tape-cluster-buster-meeting/. Please read this link to see that these new people dealing with home educators have our best interests at heart. I talked with Megan about those with the Natural Learning philosophy having trouble getting their applications being approved when they were written throughly from that approach. Read what she said to us under “Use of the Exemption Application”.  We talked a lot about truancy while applying for an exemption form and Megan outlined her understanding of Justified and Unjustified Absence. I had never heard of those terms before – read about this in the meeting notes and here: Truancy and the Home Schooler/Home Educator. The Red Tape Cluster Buster team are still meeting with people – if your home educating group would like to meet with them then please contact them or me.

More recently I have written to the MoE National Office about the Lower Hutt MoE local office concerning the difficulties home educators have in getting exemptions. Some of these exemption applications have now been approved which we are thankful for and trust that another one will be soon. We trust that it will be easier to get exemptions from the Lower Hutt local MoE office in the future. There is a new manager for home education, Andrea, in the Lower Hutt local office of the MoE.

Some Concerns people have with filling out the Problem Scoping Survey. I will try to answer some of these concerns from my perspective:

“I have received an email from the MoE and I find it a bit strange. It doesn’t say how the information will be used.”

It is my understanding that the meetings Jim, Sonya and Lucy have been having, have been to come up with a group of home educators they feel they can work with as they make changes to the forms and processes the MoE use with home educators. These will be ongoing meetings where we can discuss the forms and processes as well as any concerns that we have. We do not know who will be involved in these meetings yet.

“I think its still hard to have a conversation with them when we are speaking different languages.”

This has certainly been the problem in the past. But the purposes for the meetings: the Scoping Meetings, the Red Tape Cluster Buster meetings and the Problem Solving Survey are all ways that the MoE are using to understand home education now. We have our opportunity to speak our language to them in this Scoping Survey – I think we should take this opportunity. I trust that there will be home educators from all perspectives on the team that meets regularly with the National Office of the MoE. At the moment we are talking with the National Office of the MoE, it will take time for this to filter down to the local offices.

From Jim Greening’s letter: “The MoE is seeking to determine any areas where improvements can be made to home schooling within NZ to ensure the success of those young people involved in homeschooling.”…implies that young people involved in home educating are not currently ‘successful’.”

Something those who have been home educating for a long time can do is mention the “success” of those who have finished being home educated. This is an interesting survey by Jenny Barkley (2013) where she received answers to her survey from 162 people who had finished being home educated  http://hef.org.nz/2013/beyond-homeschooling-nz-2013

 The whole focus on ‘success’ raises quite a few flags – what on earth do they mean by ‘success’?
Success means different things to different people and it is widely applied in the home education movement. It is not all about academics for many of the different philosophies.

Update just received from Lucy:  The term “successes” to us means what’s working well for people or what they would like to see change in regarding to home education.

“The actual form is not user friendly or clear.  I am not even sure where to start with it.”

I agree. I am tempted to come up with our own form. There is a skill in answering media questions. Craig was good at it and tried to help others who were about to be questioned about home education. First you work out what you would like to tell the media or would like your audience to hear. Then you make sure that you get those points made early in the interview. So if an interviewer asks you a question you ignore the question for a start and say “first you would like to make three points” and go for it. By the time you have finished your three points the interviewer has gone past his first question and has lots more from the points you have made. I think we can apply this to the Scoping Survey. Think about what you would like the MoE to know about the problems that are there at the moment and in the past (especially if they have been personal for you) and get that into the Survey somehow. Then think about the best scenario you can think of for the law and policy of home education in New Zealand and get that into the survey. Don’t just look at the Survey and answer the questions – that is an extremely hard way to go about it.

Update just received this from Lucy: The feedback sheet is intended as a guide; people can submit their feedback in any form they like either by emailing us or writing to us. We are interested to hear in what is working well, and what home educators would like to see improved or changed with regards to home education.

“I have still not received the survey. Is it possible to just download the survey somewhere and send it in?”

If you would like to receive the survey by email then please send mebarbara@hef.org.nz your email address and I will pass it onto the right person in the MoE. I will not use that email address in any other way. If you don’t want to receive the survey by email and have not received a letter yet – please let me know. I have not heard of anyone receiving the snail mail letter yet. Update 16/09/14: I have been told that the MoE is no longer sending this out as a letter unless it is specifically asked for –  I am checking on this information.

Here are some ideas to write about. 

If you have any others then please leave them in the comments. Several home educators have been discussing the Red Tape Cluster Buster meetings. Please check out these links: Preparation for the MoE discussions

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/

It would be wonderful if a number of people mention issues to help make the home education environment better in New Zealand. Here are some other suggestions

1. Justified Absence – it would be wonderful if a lot of home educators include this in their Scoping Surveys asking for “Justified Absence” during the exemption application process to be a part of theMoE policy

2. This statement could be mentioned in several scoping surveys: “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.” For those of you who this has been an issue (or those who could see issues about this in the future) it would be wonderful if you could outline the issues in the scoping survey. Jim knows that this statement needs to be changed and they are listening to us on this. So it is important that we give them some case studies of how this has been detramental to many families during the application process.

3. “regular” and “well” Jim wants to define these two words we don’t want to see these words defined any more than they already are in the exemption form package. Those words are in the law anything else is policy.

4. Beneficaries being told by some WINZ offices that they cannot home school and be on the benefit.
5. Exemption form on line, along with that, the ability to track onlinethe progress of the exemption form.
6. Use of the Exemption Application when it comes to different philosophies. At the moment the exemption form application seems to be set up for one philosophy which lines up with how children are taught in school. Home education is quite different and the National Office seems to be understanding this. We need to write about this more in the Problem Scoping Survey so that it is clearer in the application form.
7. Special needs: The National Office, especially the Red Tape Cluster Buster team, wants to hear from those with Special needs children. What are all the things that you have found helpful for your special needs children? What stuggles have you had to find out what is available for your special needs home educated children? I have heard of some families who have had struggles for many years in these areas and have finally found the help they needed. Please share this information in the Problem Solving Survey so that others don’t have to go through your stuggles. Megan is kean to get this information onto the Exemption Application forms.
8. ECE: 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”. Just because they are asking this of all children entering school (Jim’s letter to me) does not mean that they need to ask this of children being home educated.
9. The need to see home education friendly staff in the MoE especially in the local offices where the exemption applications are approved. We do not want to see anyone in the local MoE offices who “do not like home schooling and do not think anyone should be able to do it”
10. Another idea is to ask for a “Family Exemption Application” to be online. We use our number to access it. We have our overall philosophy up there. Then we just add to that the particulars for each child.
We need to keep the MoE to the law rather than to their policy. They can change their policy but it is much harder to change the law.
.

I had just finished this post when I got this email from Lucy.

This confirms what I have written above:

Thank you for your feedback regarding the work we are doing.

In answer to the key points in your combined emails, I would like to confirm:

a)      The term “successes” to us means what’s working well for people or what they would like to see change in regarding to home education.
b)      The feedback sheet is intended as a guide; people can submit their feedback in any form they like either by emailing us or writing to us. We are interested to hear in what is working well, and what home educators would like to see improved or changed with regards to home education.

These messages, along with the feedback form will be going up on our website today or tomorrow– apologies for not getting it up sooner, we have had some technical difficulties.
Please do not hesitate to convey to your members that we want to know what is working and what is not with suggested improvements.  Please also confirm that feedback does not have to be on the feedback form as we are keen to receive feedback in any way that people feel comfortable submitting.

Links:
-Home Education Foundation letter which covers exemption form, beneficiaries, International home educators and Keystone.

MoE/ERO issues

Changes in the MoE

MoE discussions introduction to the Red Tape Cluster Buster meetings

Preparation for the MoE discussions with Red Tape Cluster Buster meetings andrelevant for the Problem Scoping Survey
- 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/ (Also a lot of very good information to aid you in filling out the Problem Scoping Survey)

Record of Progress and Achievement (an exemple of the new National MoE office staff understanding home educators)

Truancy and the Home Schooler/Home Educator (another success with the National Office in that Megan showed us alternatives)

Scoping Meeting 15 July 2014 – Getting to know you

2nd Meeting 28 July 2014 – Red Tape Cluster Buster Meeting

MoE scoping Home Educators – email

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Please share/forward this link with other home educators.

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From the Smiths:

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

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

*****

Needing help for your home schooling journey:

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

And

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

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

and

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

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

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

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

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

MoE scoping Home Educators – email

UPDATE: If you have not received this in your email today and you would like to receive it as an email then please let me know. This is a message I just got from the MoE National Office: “If you have someone who has not received it to their email now, please let me know their email address and I will send it.”

I will not use your email for any other purpose

*********

MoE scoping Home Educators

The National Office of the MoE is sending out an email or snail mail letter to all home educators today. They have asked us to put it up on our websites and pass around to other home educators.

Jim Greening’s letter to us all: scoping_letter

and the Problem scoping survey: Problem_scoping-1

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

From the Smiths:

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

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

*****

Needing help for your home schooling journey:

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

And

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

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

and

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

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

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

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

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

MoE scoping Home Educators

The National Office of the MoE is sending out an email or snail mail letter to all home educators today. They have asked us to put it up on our websites and pass around to other home educators.

Jim Greening’s letter to us all: scoping_letter

and the Problem scoping survey: Problem_scoping-1

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

From the Smiths:

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

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

*****

Needing help for your home schooling journey:

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

And

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

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

and

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

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

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

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

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

MoE Meetings: 2nd Meeting 28 July 2014 – Red Tape Cluster Buster Meeting

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.

Truancy

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.

Special needs

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.

ECE

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”.

Principals

“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.

Background links:

MoE/ERO issues: http://hef.org.nz/2014/moeero-issues/

MoE Meetings: 1st Meeting 17 July 2014 – Getting to know you

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

From the Smiths:

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

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

*****

Needing help for your home schooling journey:

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

And

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

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

and

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

MoE Meetings: 1st Meeting 15 July 2014 – Getting to know you

The MoE had a shuffle around with their staff and offices on 1 July 2014; you can read about it here:  http://hef.org.nz/2014/changes-in-the-moe/

Recently, I have been part of two meetings with the new MoE staff.

The first meeting on 15 July was with Jim Greening (Group Manager, Schools and Student Support), Sonya Logan (Manager, Student Engagement) and Lucy Ambrose (Senior Advisor, Learner Engagement). The purpose of the meeting was for the MoE to meet with a Home Schooling organisation to establish that they were a valid and recognised representation of home educators, and to lay groundwork for scoping: consulting with ERO, evaluating MoE resources and policies and opening communication with home schooling groups. These meetings are to be ongoing.

Our discussions were fairly general for the first part of the meeting where we were getting to know Jim, Sonya and Lucy and they were getting to understand home educators. We talked very briefly about the history of home education in New Zealand. See A Brief History of Home Education in New Zealand by Craig Smith.

We did talk about some nitty gritty things, and I believe ended up with some good outcomes.

Jim would like to see consistency of information and approach within the ten MoE offices. The two main questions are:

  • is the child getting a good education?
  • is the child safe?

Need to keep records

These three from the MoE National office want to unpick this one with home educators. Here is what we talked about, and it is not about keeping records at all, but preparing when we need to for either the “ERO, further education or training”. See more here: http://hef.org.nz/2014/record-of-progress-and-achievement/

Need for MoE to contact Schools during the exemption process 

We considered this statement: “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 also discussed the way different local MoE offices use this statement. They stated that the school’s input is to highlight any special needs or learning needs that the child has. This is part of the process in working out what is best for the child. Our response: The MoE should not contact the school as a normal process of approving an exemption application. They could check online to see if the child is on the school’s role. When the MoE contacts the school this can cause all sorts of problems for the child in the school until the exemption application is approved, and also for the parents. It has nothing to do with the school whether a child is home educated or not. It is the parents’ decision not the schools. A child can have difficulty learning at school, or be naughty, and when they come home and the parents are working with them one on one and using different approaches to what the school uses, the child can flourish. Principals don’t see this but we do. They may not take that into account when “commenting on the suitability or otherwise of home education as an option for your child”. Most schools are good about this, but there are some schools that are one-eyed and they will, out of prejudice, say that home education is not suitable for some particular children. Jim, Sonya and Lucy seemed to understand this and agreed that this statement needs to be changed. They had also heard from others who are concerned about this.

Failed ERO review

We looked at the wording in the letter that goes out to parents after a failed ERO review. “There is provision for the MoE to request that ERO reviews a programme again in six months, following an ERO review, if parents indicate that they accept the findings of the ERO report, intend to address the relevant issues and have already made progress.” If the ERO has made a report and we feel that it does not reflect our home educating of our children, how can we “accept the findings of the ERO report” without incriminating ourselves? They agreed the wording needs to be changed.

As regularly and well

Unfortunately Jim feels the need to define the words “regular” and “well”. We told him that these words do not need to be defined any more than they already are in the exemption form. We have not needed these words defined in the past and it could be detrimental to home educators if they are defined for the future. Thankfully the MoE want to be in discussions with us over all aspects of home education – the forms, the processes and anything else. So if these words are defined more than what is in the exemption form, we will be able to comment on it.

ERO Reviews:

Jim would like to see ERO reviews done not on the basis of a complaint but in a more supportive role. He feels that this would give a better overall view of Home Schooling. He is questioning why these reviews are so limited – up to 35 done per year (14 last year). We know why – because the MoE was looking to see how they could cut their budget and found that home educators are a low risk group. At the meeting I thought that Jim was considering taking the reviews from around 14 a year up to the full quota of 35 a year with non-compliant based reviews. We need to discuss the purpose of the ERO reviews more. Are they to find out where parents are not “teaching as regular and well as a registered school” or for the MoE to get an overview of home education or both?

Conclusions

Part of the aim of this meeting was to form a group of people who can work with the MoE – a sector group to look at all aspects of home education. Jim, Sonya and Lucy are still meeting with home educators to find who should be part of this group. They are meeting with NCHENZ on the 19th August 2014. I am not sure who else they are meeting with, but they did say that they would be meeting up with some Home Education Support Groups.

I also want to explain my role (representing the Home Education Foundation) at any MoE/ERO meetings. I am not representing any other home educators – only my family. I asked another couple to be with me at this meeting, who have finished home educating seven children and are looking forward to having grandchildren who will be home educated too. I have eight children and have already been home educating for 28 years, with an exemption. I still have an eight year old being educated at home along with her 13 and 16 year old siblings, so I will be at this for a long time yet. As I see it, my role at these meetings (if I am a part of them) is to be there with the 28 years of experience I have at home educating and supporting Craig in the work he did with the Home Education Foundation, then to share the outcome of these meetings with you, the home educators of New Zealand, so that you will be able to represent yourselves by either contacting me (I’ll pass on your comments and concerns), your local MoE office or Lucy Ambrose from the National Office.

Please be patient

As you can see there are new staff at the MoE and they are wanting and needing to make changes to the forms and processes the MoE uses for home educators, 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 (not sure who yet) 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.

MoE Meetings: 2nd Meeting 28 July 2014 – Red Tape Cluster Buster Meeting 

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From the Smiths:

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

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

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Needing help for your home schooling journey:

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

And

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

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

and

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

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

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

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

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