What does it mean by “Registered School” in the
NZ Education Act?
Because the NZ Education Act says that one who wants to home educate must “satisfy” the Ministry of Education that the child “will be taught at lease as regularly and well as in a registered school,” I always explain to enquirers what it means by “registered school.”
It means any school that exists out there in Kiwiland…all schools are registered, or else the government does not allow them to stay open. That is, we’re not just talking about government or state schools but also about any of those weird and wonderful alternative schools, church schools, integrated schools, Hare Krishna, Hindu, Muslim…you name it.
To illustrate what that meant by way of “as regularly and well as”, I would then describe what I imagined would go on at two “alternative” schools I know of down in Christchurch. Discovery I is a state school and Tamariki is an integrated private school. If Johnny bothered to turn up, a teacher would say, “Oh, Johnny, it’s so good to see you! What would you like to do today?”
Johnny: “Gidday Jim. [No such thing as a respectful “Teacher” or “Sir”…just“Jim”.] What I’d really like to do today is sit in the beanbags and watch videos.”
Jim: “Johnny…there are the bean bags…there are the videos…see you at lunch time.”
One day I was telling this story to a mum who rang for some guidance about the exemption process, and she began to laugh uproariously.
“What’s the story?” I tried to probe, a little bit wary of striking someone who just thought I was telling a whopper and was laughing at me with scorn and derision.
“I attended a school exactly like that!” she declared. “That’s just how they operate!”
“Where was that?” I asked.
“Up in Auckland,” she said.
“That wasn’t Metropolitan College, was it?”
“Yes, it was!” she replied. “How on earth did you know?”
Well, I felt doubly justified. I’d heard plenty about all three of these schools, and now here was a graduate of one of them telling me I was describing them faithfully.
Metropolitan College failed its ERO reviews eight years in a row. It was finally closed down. So when the ERO would fail a home educator, with maybe 4 children, and tell them they had to send them to school, why is it they never told Metropolitan College, with dozens of students, to close down until after most of those students had spent up to four years in the place? Shouldn’t they let home educators fail their ERO reviews for an equitable eight years running…you know, to be fair and all that.
Actually, this mum went on to say that she never saw a more accomplished group of people than her fellow Metropolitan College graduates: yes, they were all non-conformists but went on to be very successful in businesses, performing arts and entrepreneurial enterprises. Non-conformity was a value of Metropolitan, just as it is a value of all home educators (whether they consciously think so or not). It is (to a large degree) this crushing conformity which is unrelentingly imposed upon conventionally schooled children that causes me to plead with parents to rescue their children from these places of institutionalised child abuse, otherwise known as public schools.