May 26, 2017

Letter to MoE re Changes to the Exemption Form

Correspondence with Jim Greening, Group Manager, Sector Enablement and Support, MoE, 2014

As at 11 July 2014 3 letters with 2 replies.

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View letter 1 on letterhead here: ExemptionForm 220414

22 April 2014

Attention: John Clark

Ministry of Education

PO Box 1666

WELLINGTON 6140

Dear Sir,

Changes to Parents’ Homeschooling Information Pack

We were most concerned recently to see a change to the Key Requirements of the Ministry’s information pack for parents interested in homeschooling. The current document inserts the following paragraph under the heading “Key Requirement—Progress and Achievement”:

Remember, you will need to have a record of progress and achievement over time i.e. weekly, termly, annually. This may also be needed when your child goes on to further education or training.”

We were amazed that the Ministry of Education would update the key requirements for home education without any reason being given and without either formal or informal consultation with home educators. We are even more concerned that home educators were never notified of the Ministry’s new requirement when it was added.

Most of all we are concerned about the impact this new requirement will have on home educators. While some home educators do find it helpful to keep records, they are not schoolteachers and should not be expected to provide a similar bulk of paperwork. Administrative record-keeping for teachers that are involved with many students may be understandable, but no studies indicate that it would improve the education of children who are taught by their own parents. Parents are the best judges of their child’s progress and should be able to track their child’s progress with or without needing to keep records as they prefer. In our experience, educational outcomes are improved by teaching children, not writing reports about them. Having to set aside valuable time to write reports will only make it that much more difficult for home educators to teach and interact with them.

In July 2009, the Ministry of Education reduced the number of reviews conducted on home educators, saying “This programme is considered to be low risk to the education priorities of the Government.” Home educators are getting their job done without being required to keep records. We ask the Ministry of Education not to make it harder for parents to teach their children. Please remove this new paragraph from your requirements.

Yours faithfully,

The Home Education Foundation of New Zealand

per:

Barbara Smith

National Director

www.hef.org.nz

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Click here to view letter 2 on letterhead: ExemptionApplicationECE220414

22 April 2014

Attention: John Clark

Ministry of Education

PO Box 1666

WELLINGTON 6140

Dear Sir,

Changes to Homeschooling Exemption Form

Our attention was recently drawn to some changes made to the Ministry of Education’s Homeshooling Application Form. A new, third page has been added to collect detailed information on the child’s previous early childhood education experience, if any.

We were surprised that the Ministry is collecting information on homeschoolers’ ECE attendance as it was never found necessary before. Will you advise for what purpose this information is being collected?

Yours faithfully,

The Home Education Foundation of New Zealand

per:

Barbara Smith

National Director

www.hef.org.nz

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Reply from Jim Greening

Easier to read here: SES 14-127 Barbara Smith(1) 

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Click here to view letter 3 on letterhead: Jim Greening 300614-1

30 June 2014

Dear Mr Greening,

Thank you for your letter of 22 April 2014 answering my two letters to John Clark. Since writing those letters I have had pneumonia resulting in three weeks in hospital and surgery. I have been recuperating well but have not been able to take on any extras. So at this point I would like to acknowledge your letter of 4 June 2014 and let you know that I will be replying to it when I am able.

In the meantime it has come to my notice that there is at least one family (the Ririnui family of Tauranga to name one family) who has failed an ERO review without being given the opportunity of a second review. In the past all families were given the opportunity for a second and sometimes a third review. I was personally involved with one family who had three failed ERO reviews, but are continuing to home educate their children successfully today.

There are many reasons why a family might fail their first review. Usually it is because they have not prepared properly for the actual review. It is very distressing for a family to be reviewed these days knowing that it is because there is a complaint about their home education and family lifestyle from someone they know or a member of the public service. I’m sure you understand that this distress and nervousness might affect how the family comes across in the first review. Usually after the experience of a first review the family is better prepared for a second review and the process goes much better both for the family and the ERO reviewers.
Here’s something one mother told me about her first review:

“I said at the beginning of my first review, something like, ‘Please excuse me if I get emotional or stumble when I’m explaining things, but I am very nervous. This isn’t just about whether or not my kids stay homeschooled or go to school, it’s about the possibility of our whole family life being irrevocably altered. They were stunned – they just hadn’t ever thought about it like that, they just thought it was about 9 – 3, five days a week. No concept of the whole life thing.”

If the ERO gives families a second or third ERO review (as schools get) or ask for further information (as we have the opportunity to provide in our applications), it will show that a reasonable effort was made to get all the relevant information before making the decision to revoke.

I ask you now to reconsider the home educators who have failed their first review without being given a second review. Schools are permitted follow-up ERO reviews after they have failed a first ERO review. Home educators should be given the same opportunity. We have seen many families who have failed their first ERO review go on to pass their second or third ERO reviews, who now have children successful in the fields they have chosen.

Yours sincerely

Barbara Smith

National Director

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Reply from Jim Greening to my 3rd letter

Easier to read here: wrightt_11-07-2014_13-47-21

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Homeschooling, home schooling, home education, natural learning, ERO, MoE