October 24, 2014

ERO: Homeschooling

ERO: Homeschooling

Every child in New Zealand has a right to education.

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

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

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

For more information please contact ERO.

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

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

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Porno gang’ warning at school

Porno gang’ warning at school

By CATHERINE WOULFE – Sunday Star Times

http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/2838214/Porno-gang-warning-at-school

Six teachers at an Auckland school have been caught with inappropriate emails on their school computers.

Outraged insiders have dubbed the group a “porno gang”, and say authorities are covering up a scandal.

The school is Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate (SEHC) in Otara, Manukau, a decile-one state school with a roll of 548, and about 50 staff. It is not known which teachers were involved and school commissioner Gail Thomson refused to give details about the emails, saying only that they contained images and text “inappropriate for a school”.

Five teachers were found out last year during a routine sweep of the school’s computer system. The sixth was picked up this year during an audit by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Thomson said five of the teachers were still working at the school, but were on final written warnings and would be fired if they reoffended. A computer sweep early this year revealed one of the teachers caught in the first check had reoffended; that person resigned and left the school that day, and Thomson said “appropriate authorities” were informed.

Without access to school records, she could not say yesterday whether a complaint was made to the watchdog body, the Teachers Council. The council’s 2009 decisions are not yet public but decisions between 2006 and 2008 show it has little sympathy for teachers looking at pornography on school or even home computers. It has stripped six teachers of their registrations in that time, forced one to work under strict conditions and given another a formal warning. The council is powerless to investigate a teacher, or ban them from the classroom, unless a complaint is made by an employer or the teacher reports a conviction.

The SEHC incidents emerged last week when the Sunday Star-Times received an anonymous letter from authors who said they could not reveal themselves for fear of dismissal. It said: “The Ministry of Education [and] Education Review Office [ERO]… are involved in a `cover-up’ which defies belief.

“There is a porno gang of five guys at SEHC who have collected, composed and distributed serious porn on their school computers. Some pupils have seen some of it and most staff are aware of it. We wrote to the commissioner three times urging appropriate action, to no avail. We then wrote to the Ministry and ERO. Still no action. Why?”

Thomson said the “cowardly” letter-writers were trying to undermine positive work at the collegiate. There was a small volume of problematic emails, and most were sent to teachers from outside the school. Some emails had been “recirculated”, but she had no evidence any pupils had seen them.

The emails she had seen were “not at the highest level of concern, but inappropriate for a school”.

The former board of trustees dealt with the first five teachers caught, after seeking advice from the secondary teachers’ union and the School Trustees Association. In January the education minister sacked that board and replaced them with Thomson, following an ERO report raising serious concerns about student safety.

Thomson handled the teacher who reoffended, and the sixth teacher who was caught during the audit this year. She said the audit revealed a “historical matter”, but that teacher’s email use had been clean for the past two years.

All staff and pupils were subject to a computer use agreement, Thomson said.

The Ministry of Education refused to comment last week. Principal Karen Douglas, and other staff at the school, were not permitted to speak to media.

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A Bit of Political Advice to Home Educators

A Bit of Political Advice to Home Educators

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From TEACH Bulletin

No 130 July 2009

To see the rest of the articles in the July 2009 TEACH Bulletin:

http://hef.org.nz/teach-bulletin/

or

http://hef.org.nz/category/teach-bulletin/

July TEACH Bulletin 2009

NO MORE Reviews!!! Page 1 http://hef.org.nz/2009/no-more-ero-reviews/

The Excellence of Home Education Page 1

Inter-Party Working Group – for increasing parental and student choice in education Page 2

Sweden Page 3

United Kingdom Page 4

NCEA Grades Dubious Page 5

A Bit of Political Advice to Home Educators page 5

Coming Events page 8

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NO MORE Home Schooling ERO REVIEWS!!!

NO MORE Home Education ERO REVIEWS!!!

Echoing then Minister of Education Dr Lockwood Smith in 1994, that he could not justify the expense of regular reviews on such a low-risk group as home educators, Chief Review Officer Graham Stoop wrote in February this year that reviews of home educators are not efficient or effective. Posted on the ERO website is the following: “From 1 July 2009 ERO will carry out reviews only when requested by the Secretary for Education, or in other particular circumstances.”

This is in line with the present central government’s drive to cut bureaucratic costs. Minister in charge of the ERO, Anne Tolley, said in February: “I have asked ERO to identify schools that are performing consistently well and, accordingly, from March 1, these schools will be exempt from the current three-yearly ERO reviews and will instead be reviewed every four to five years.”

In December 2008, the Finance Minister advised Cabinet to do a line-byline review of expenditure. Home Education reviews were found to account for $283,000 out of a total budget of $28,675,000 or 0.987% (less than 1%). Graham Stoop wrote: “This programme is considered to be low risk to the education priorities of the Government. In 2007/08 ERO completed 644 homeschooling reviews from a total of 6,169 homeschooled students [at an average cost of $439.44 per review]. ERO could not provide assurance that the terms of exemption were being met in only 35 of the 644 reviews [a 5.4% “failure” rate]. This has been the pattern over many years.”

About 35 reviews a year will continue to be made, reviews initiated by the MoE as a result of concerns brought to the Ministry’s notice about particular home educating families. It was felt by home educators in discussions with the ERO back in the years from 1994 to 1999 when no regular reviews were being held, that the bad eggs rose to the top and became very obvious to everyone. Consequently, more exemptions were revoked during that time, with fewer reviews being held, than in the years prior to 1994.

A senior member of the ERO, with much experience in dealing with home education reviews, wrote the following in an email dated 30 July:

The reality is home schooling has been found to be low risk. Several things stand out in my mind relating to home schooling and they are:

  • home schooling families have support from other homeschoolers and access to people through support networks and
  • through the Internet;
  • home schooling families are no longer isolated unless they choose to be;
  • there is easy access to a considerable range of resources;
  • the skills of home schooling parents are well used;
  • home schooling is being seen more as a viable educational option;
  • ICT is a powerful communication and information gathering tool and home schooling families use this tool;
  • people liked the affirmation that home schooling reviews affirmed good practice; and
  • despite initial concerns the feedback ERO has received relating to the home school review process is mostly positive.

This person also felt that home  education reviews would not be reinstated for quite some time.

Conjecture will not be slow among home eduators in relation to “what will the MoE do now? Will they make it more difficult to get an exemption?” There is no particular reason to believe this, apart from the obvious fact that National has the same totalitarian tendencies as does Labour…they only tend to move a bit slower. This coalition with the ACT Party, however, does change things a bit.

Heather Roy of the ACT Party is an Associate Minister of Education… home education fits perfectly into their philosophy of freedom of choice for parents in education and freedom of self determination in how to order one’s family affairs.

Back in 1995, the MoE instituted, for one year only, voluntary written reviews wherein home educators wrote to the MoE about how their home education enterprise was doing. The MoE said they really enjoyed reading the reviews as it was the only feedback they ever got from home educators after issuing the exemptions, the ERO being the ones to contact home educators after that. But the MoE also caught a lot of flak as a result of requesting these reviews, being accused of going outside their statutory powers in asking for such reviews and of trying to get home educators to  incriminate themselves, etc.

What we home educators need to remember just now is that the current coalition government with ACT MPs holding Ministerial portfolios means we have friends in Parliament and an officially friendly MoE philosophy for the time being. This is a time to raise the flag of accomplishments, achievements,  discoveries, the joys, benefits and satisfactions of the home education option to the population at largeand to the MPs in particular.

From TEACH Bulletin

No 130 July 2009

To see the rest of the articles in the July 2009 TEACH Bulletin:

http://hef.org.nz/teach-bulletin/

or

http://hef.org.nz/category/teach-bulletin/

July TEACH Bulletin 2009

NO MORE Reviews!!! Page 1

The Excellence of Home Education Page 1

Inter-Party Working Group – for increasing parental and student choice in education Page 2

Sweden Page 3

United Kingdom Page 4

NCEA Grades Dubious Page 5

A Bit of Political Advice to Home Educators page 5 http://hef.org.nz/2009/a-bit-of-political-advice-to-home-educators/

Coming Events page 8

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Board sacked to protect pupils

http://www.stuff.co.nz/4833210a11.html

By EMILY WATT – The Dominion Post | Friday, 30 January 2009

The Government has sacked a second school board in a fortnight after revelations its teachers were hitting, swearing at and denigrating pupils.

Education Minister Anne Tolley dissolved the board of South Auckland’s Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate yesterday and replaced it with a commissioner to safeguard pupils.

The move followed a damning Education Review Office report which raised “serious concerns about student safety and about the quality of teaching” at the school. The 1280-pupil co-ed state school is decile one, meaning it teaches pupils from the poorest and most deprived communities and homes. It is one of 10 South Auckland secondary schools that had police officers posted on the grounds as part of a pilot scheme last year to fight crime, and gather intelligence about youth gangs and drug dealing.

Mrs Tolley dissolved the board of trustees at Auckland’s Selwyn College on Tuesday last week after the office criticised differences between board members and the community which had resulted in falling enrolments.

In the latest sacking, ERO said the board had failed to provide a safe environment.

“The physical and emotional abuse of students by a few teachers is a long-standing issue that has been brought to the board’s attention in the past. This abuse by some teachers includes hitting, swearing at and denigrating students,” the report says.

Mrs Tolley said the abuse was concerning. “That is totally unacceptable. Student safety is paramount.”

Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate is effectively three schools – junior, middle and senior. ERO found a climate of mistrust among the school’s three principals and said the board’s inadequacy hindered the school’s ability to provide quality education.

Given the report’s allegations, Mrs Tolley said she had no hesitation appointing a commissioner to replace the board.

The former executive principal of Diocesan School, Gail Thomson, would take over today.

Former pupil Charles Makakea, who graduated last year, said he was surprised to hear the board was under fire.

“It was a good school,” he said.

He had heard reports of teachers hitting students, “but I didn’t know for sure”.

A former teacher said it was a low-decile school and there were a lot of tensions for teachers.

“I understand it’s also a hard-to-staff school.”

But though it was a difficult environment, there were no excuses for the behaviour described in the report.

Post Primary Teachers Association president Kate Gainsford said it was appalling that concerns had reached such serious levels without effective support for the board being put in place earlier.

“Maintaining discipline and managing safety in challenging circumstances can be difficult for trained professionals who are working full time. For volunteers devoting their spare time to shoulder such heavy responsibilities, [it] is a tall order.”

ERO will return to the school within 12 months.

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