Unschooling on Sunday – TVONE -7:30pm

The SUNDAY current affairs programme was about two families who home school their children.
But it was not home schooling as we might know it.
It’s called un-schooling, where there is no set curriculum and what is pursued is driven by what interests the child.

We have heard wonderful reviews of this programme but have not been able to watch this on our computers for some reason.

Here are the links we have – trust you can view on your computers:




3 thoughts on “Unschooling on Sunday – TVONE -7:30pm

  1. I was wondering how this family were able to do this from a legal standpoint. I have looked into homeschooling for my oldest son, and one of the things it clearly states on the ministry of education application forms, is that a child has to be taught as much and as often as they would at school (words to that effect) and the ministry can do check ups when ever they like. So ‘how’ does it work with unschooling is it allowed from a ministry viewpoint, Iam very curious about it, would love to email the lady.

  2. Hi Melanie,

    You are quite right that the only legal requirement in New Zealand is that the child needs to be taught as regularly and a well as in a registered school. With un-schooling, teaching is a whole of life experience. Every opportunity is taken to use the child’s interests and motivations to delve into the topic of life. As life-long learning is a sustainable lifestyle, holidays from learning are not needed. So really, learning is occurring through every waking hour of the child’s life, 365 days a year, something schools can’t compete with.

  3. Greetings Melanie and thanks for your question.

    The wording from the Education Act says, “The Ministry must be satisfied that the child will be taught at least as regularly and well as in a registered school.”

    Now, the key words are “satisfied”, “regularly”, “well” and “registered school”. That last item does not mean “state school”, but any of the weird and wonderful schools that exist in NZ since they are all registered, without exception. So you have Auckland Grammar at one end of the scale and Tamariki or Discovery 1 (a state school, now closed due to the earthquake) in Christchurch at the other end. These schools have almost no standards in the traditional sense, including attendance. “Regularly” only means “some commitment to certain routines” which are left up to the parent to define. “Well” does not mean “the same as” but only showing “some evidence of planning and balance”. (I am quoting from policy documents that accompany the Exemption Application.) “Satisfied” shows that the whole exercise is totally subjective.

    The MoE is looking to see if you can clearly explain what you plan to do, how you plan to do it, and how you’ll know you’re making progress. You define what “progress” means. That is, the Exemption Application is very much like the MoE handing you a blank cheque.

    This is possible because the Education Act does not require even public schools to teach anything in particular. They are required to be open, the children are required to attend, the instruction is requred to be entirely of a secular (that is, nonChristian) character, but the schools are not required to teach reading, writing, arithmetic or anything else.

    Because the Ed Act only requires children to be enrolled at and attend (do their time) and does not requre them to learn anything nor does it require the schools to teach anything in particular, you, as a home educating parent, have the same freedom to do the same at home…as long as you can cause the Min of Ed to be satisfied that the child will be taught at least as regularly and well as in a registered school.

    Of course, since you are a concerned parent, you do have standards and you do have specific expectations and even requirements that your child will learn to master certain skills and to get a sufficient handle on certain bodies of knowledge. The MoE knows this and is therefore very happy to issue exemptions to those who demonstrate they are able to “teach as regularly and well.”

    We’ve got tons more information on this and other topics.

    Craig & Barbara Smith

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