June 2, 2023

MoE Problem Scoping Survey: please make it known and fill it out



The deadline was yesterday. We had until midnight to get the Scoping Surveys  in, the MoE won’t be working over the weekend, so early Monday morning will get the Surveys to the MoE before they start processing them.

Craig with children and timeline


The MoE is doing a Problem Scoping Survey of all home educators. Most of you have heard about it. I am still talking to people who have not heard about it or who are not considering filling the survey out.

This is our opportunity to let the MoE know

what we are happy about in our dealings with them,

what we are not happy with in our dealings with them

and what we would like to see in the future

and they are listening.

due in 3 October 2014 (revised date)

Update: But they don’t have a time so that means midnight. They wont be working over the weekend so we actually have until early morning on the 6th to get the Scoping Survey or an email back.

The MoE has sent this Problem Solving Survey out to 2530 home educator’s email addresses (50 bounced). They are aware that they have not been able to contact all home educating parents.  They have placed the survey on their website in an attempt to provide the information to as many people as possible: http://www.minedu.govt.nz/Parents/AllAges/EducationInNZ/Homeschooling.aspx.

This post is an attempt to get the information out to as many home educators as possible and to encourage all home educators to answer the survey by October 3. Lots of people have already answered the survey. A lot more do NOT want to answer the survey because of our previous interactions with the MoE – some are fearful of answering the survey. I would not be answering the survey and I would be encouraging you all not to answer it under the old guard of the MoE. We have new people in the National Office of the MoE since 1 July  2014 who are interested in having a better relationship with home educators. I have had good interaction with them via meetings, phone and email. They have put right some things that I have written to them about. This survey is an attempt from them to understand home educators and put in place things to make the forms and processes that they use with us better.  A major item is the exemption form. It will be great when we will no longer have to tell the MoE what we think they want us to tell them, but let them know exactly how we will be home educating our children whether we have a curriculum work book approach, or whether we have a radical unschoolers/natural learners approach or something inbetween. The National Office of the MoE want to understand us so that we are all speaking the same language. Jim Greening said that we are his largest school. He meant that as a compliment and I want to take it as a compliment but at the same time have us all use this survey to let them know that we are nothing like a school in our approach to educating our children. I want us to use this survey to help them to understand us so that we are talking the same language. They need to hear from as many home educators as possible as we are all independent thinkers and all have a different approach to home education.

So please share this post with as many people as possible. Please share it on Facebook with the groups that have not seen this yet. Please forward it on the Yahoo groups that have not seen this yet. Please share/forward it with your support group members. Please share/forward it with individual home educators. Please share and forward.

 Now to the Problem Solving Survey

with supporting information on why we should all fill it out

and ideas to stimulate your thinking for filling it out.

Problem Solving Survey

Feedback Letter Jim Greening’s covering letter
Feedback Form The Problem Solving Survey

“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 what is working well, and what home educators would like to see improved or changed with regards to home education.”

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

Many people have been concerned that we did not have enough information to be filling out this survey. So a home educator, Dr. Yumiko Olliver-Gray, wrote to the MoE to get more information about the survey. She asked questions under these headings:

1. Background information
2. Confidentiality and ethics
3. Interpreting the information

This is Yumiko’s email: Email to the MoE about the Scoping Survey from a Home Educator

This is the MoE’s reply: MoE’s reply to Yumiko’s email about the Scoping Survey

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. https://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-could change soon); 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. Then the local MoE offices.

July 15 I had a Getting to know you meeting with the Jim Greening, Sonya Logan and Lucy Ambrose: https://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. 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: https://hef.org.nz/2014/record-of-progress-and-achievement/

July 28 Red Tape Cluster Buster Meetinghttps://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/unschooling philosophy having trouble getting their applications being approved when they were written thoroughly from that approach. Read what she said to us under “Use of the Exemption Application” in the link above.  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.

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. All of these exemption applications have now been approved which we are thankful for. 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.

Here are some ideas to write about

plus you probably have others. This list is just to stimulate your thinking about the things that you can write about in the scoping survey. Many people have said that they got their exemptions with no problems – that is fantastic. The MoE wants to hear about what is working well, what is not working and how they can improve. So there is something for everyone to write about. You can fill out the survey, send in an email or snail mail letter. You can sign it or send it in anonymously.

“The most important is that we don’t need an ‘application’ at all.  Just a notification that we intend to homeschool.  If our child goes to school, we don’t have to ‘apply’.  I think a notification, perhaps with the twice yearly statutory declaration, is all that is needed.  We sign that we have fulfilled our legal obligation to educate our child/ren and this is a binding legal document.  (If the MoE wont consider “no application” then just one application per family rather than per child.  Once approved, do we really need to do an application for each child?)”

“There is nothing else in terms of our parenting decisions that we need to involve government institutions with, aside from when we need assistance (health or in extreme cases where children need protection). Seeking permission to home school, having this checked out and monitored by a government agency (simply because there is a Ministry of Education) makes home-educating feel ‘wrong’. I do not need to rationalise or be fearful of other choices I make with my children (such as the way they dress, the religion we follow, the food we eat, where we live …)… I do not understand why educating my children at home should be something that causes me to feel suspicious of the government over! If anything is not working, it is that element.”

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 the MoE policy. Please see this post that I wrote up on Truancy after meeting with the Red Tape Cluster Buster Team.   https://hef.org.nz/getting-started-2/truancy-and-the-home-schoolerhome-educator/

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 detrimental to many families during the application process.

Some MoE offices will not process exemption applications during holidays because they cannot contact the Principal. This is totally unreasonable as a lot of parents want to pull their children from school at the end of a term and not send them back to school at the beginning of a new term.  Anyway MoE should not be contacting the Principals about the suitability of parents to home educate their own children. And we are trusting after this process with the Red Tape Cluster Buster team that “Justified Absence” will be applied for the exemption 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 everything else is policy, including the interpretation of those words.

4. Beneficiaries being told by some WINZ offices that they cannot home school and be on the benefit.
5. Exemption form online – to be filled out online, along with that, the ability to track online the 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 struggles 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 struggles. Megan is keen to get this information onto the Exemption Application forms.
Parents should not have to have their special needs child assessed to get an exemption. It can be voluntary especially if they want to use any special education services offered for special needs children, but not compulsory.
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”
Same with the ERO. The ERO come into our home and are making a judgment on our family and lifestyle. It is a very nervous time for home educators. We need reviewers who thoroughly understand all the different styles of home education – perhaps just a few reviewers throughout New Zealand.
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.
11. The Success of home educators: I don’t know of any home educators on the dole or who have been on the dole. This must say a lot about the home education environment in New Zealand and the good work that parents are doing with their children whether they are using a very academic programme or they are using the Natural Learning/unschooling approach. Here is a New Zealand survey answered by those who have finished being home educated: Beyond homeschooling in New Zealand
12. The need for the local MoE offices to listen to us so that we can write up our exemptions the way we want to home educate our children and NOT write in the exemption form what we think the MoE wants to hear.
13. For the MoE to understand that home education is a lifestyle that is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days of the year = very regular, no days off. This has been obvious from those families who have tried to have a “no learning day”.
14. Some home educators might like to mention the UN conventions that Parents have a right to choose the kind of education their children will receive. The right is supported by multiple human rights instruments under international law. New Zealand is a signatory to these three conventions and they show that this human right is universally recognised in all places.

– Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) Article 26 (3) – “Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.”
– International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1976) Article 10 (1) and 13 (3)3 “The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to have respect for the liberty of parents and, when applicable, legal guardians to choose for their children schools, other than those established by the public authorities, which conform to such minimum educational standards as may be laid down or approved by the State and to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions.”
– International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1976) Article 18 (4)4 – “The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to have respect for the liberty of parents and, when applicable, legal guardians to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions.”

and: https://hef.org.nz/2012/berlin-declaration/

15. “as well as” does not mean the “the same as”
as regular as” is more regular than school as it is all the time.
16. Exemption form is “School” focused. Most home educators do not follow a timetable – they are more goal Orientated and/or focused on natural learning and/or the teachable moment.
17. “In our heads” has been an acceptable way to keep a “record of progress and achievement” for over 25 years. Now we are asked to keep records on the exemption form – weekly, termly, annually. ERO reviews in the past were about talking to the parents, not the children, to see how the parent is teaching the child . It was all about the ERO finding out what was in the parents heads – not about written reports. There is plenty of time to come up with a report for the “ERO, further education or training” at the time of these events. Please see this post that I wrote after the Getting to Know you meeting with Jim, Sonya and Lucy:  https://hef.org.nz/2014/record-of-progress-and-achievement/
18. Topic plan is of benefit for the MoE not the parent. Education happens at home in a completely different way than it does at school. Some home educators may use a topic plan, most don’t. So it is a complete waste of time to asses whether someone can “teach as well as”.
19. Does the statutory declaration need to be signed by a JP or other authorised person. Heaps of other forms of more importance do not need to be witnessed like this.
20. Should it be taking 4-6 weeks for exemptions to be approved? In the past we often heard back in 4-6 days.
21. For the MoE and ERO to realise that sometimes (which happens way too often) people complain about a family and their home education programme because they are just plain against home schooling. They don’t understand it and are critical without finding out about it. Other times a ex spouse or ex partner (who were supportive of home education) will make trouble by asking for a review to try to hurt the one still home educating.
22. There needs to be clarity over the words that the MoE sends to the family after a failed ERO review– “if the parents indicate they accept the finding etc…” some home educators have difficulty in signing the form if they cannot accept the findings.
23. Home Education has not grown in New Zealand as it has in some other countries like the USA and Australia. I am beginning to think that part of this reason is the attitude of some staff in the local MoE offices – in particular Lower Hutt and Hamilton. Families have been questioned by the MoE and some staff have even tried to put families off home educating, as have some Principals. Some families have been made to feel bad about wanting to pull their children out of school by either the local MoE office or Principal. Things are slowly changing – there is a new manager in the Lower Hutt office. If this has been you then please share your experiences in the survey – you can do this anonymously.
24. NCEA If you have had successes with NCEA then please share these in the Survey. If you have concerns then please share these in the survey. If you have ideas for the future then please share these in the survey.
Observations: Two recent New Zealand studies that might be of interest are:
and part of the

These are just ideas to stimulate your thinking – come up with your own ideas, reword these ones, copy them if they are how you think. Share your experience good or bad. Share how you think the MoE can improve. The MoE has given us a blank cheque on letting them know how we feel about the forms and processes that the MoE have and use with home educators.

The National Office of the MoE want to hear from you in any form you feel comfortable with.

Remember this is NEW staff. They want to know:

  1. What is working between the MoE and home educators
  2. What is not working between the MoE and home educators
  3. How things can be improved in the future
  4. They want to put right anything that they still can – I have seen this happening personally over the last couple of months where I have taken stuff to the new National MoE Office staff and they have personally seen to fixing the problems of the old guard.
  5. Keeping them to the law which is all about “schooling” not education or learning.


Remember when the MoE talks about “success” in this case they are talking about the success and failure of the interactions between the MoE and home educators. NOT the successes and failures of our home education in our homes.

Although don’t be afraid to tell them of your successes just don’t tell them of your failures. We all feel that we could be doing better and have failed in some areas. After home educating for 28 years (with an exemption) and realising how fast the time goes by and how little can be achieved in a day and yet our children learn and those of my children who have completed their education at home are now thriving in their chosen fields. Even school teachers must see many or their failures in the class. We only have a fraction of the children yet we all have the same amount of time. Actually that statement is incorrect as we have 24 hours while teachers only have from 9:00am to 3:00pm. Again that is incorrect as schools like to encroach on family time and give home work as well. What I am saying is that we are not perfect. So please don’t mention what you feel is failure in your home education as it is something you can be dealing with in the future and does not need to be brought to the attention of the MoE.

On the other hand do mention your successes – how you home educate without a timetable, without using a topic plan, without set curriculum, without rigid guidelines, without goal planning if that is how you home educate. Talk about the successes your children have in learning to read and write (sometimes even on their own) and especially without qualified teachers.

Tell them what is working in your home, whether you use a timetable, set curriculum, topic plan for subjects, rigid guidelines and goal planning or whether your family are natural learners/radical unschoolers or somewhere in between.

It is not like an ERO review on the home education in our own homes. It is like an ERO review on the systems/processes that the MoE use with home educators. Simply what works, what doesn’t and how can it be improved.

The evidence shows overwhelmingly that these children (home schooled children) perform extremely well, above average, when they re-enter formal education. That appears to be across the board, whether they sat at home and had formal lessons…or whether they were up-a-tree hippies who had no formal learning pattern. On any measure you like, socially or academically, they will do better.” — Jeff Richardson, Monash University, Melbourne https://hef.org.nz/getting-started-2/expert-opinion/

RONALD MEIGHAN, University of Nottingham School of Education, 1996 wanted to write an essay against home education. After he had done his research he wrote: Home-Based Education Not “Does It Work?” but “Why Does It Work So Well?

The survey does not have to be on the form. You can email it or snail mail it into them with no return address by 3 October 2014.

Many people have been disappointed that they have not been able to be a part of the Red Tape Cluster Buster meetings. Well, this is your chance to have a say. People are talking with the National Office of the MoE – we don’t know what they are saying, so be sure to make your concerns, successes and ideas for the future known to the National Office of the MoE.

At the “getting to know you meeting” Jim, Sonya and Lucy assured us that they want home educators working with them on any changes to the forms and processes that the MoE use with and for home educators –  a group of home educators who can work with the MoE – a sector group to look at all aspects of home education.

The Survey is due back October 3 (Revised Date) Update: But they don’t have a time so that means midnight. They wont be working over the weekend so we actually have until early morning on the 6th to get the Scoping Survey or an email back.

Here is what the National Office of the MoE has said:

After 3 October 2014, we will be collating all the feedback from the home schooling sector and organisations involved in home schooling.  We will summarise what is working well and anything that people would like to see changed. A copy of all the feedback and the summary of this collated feedback will be provided to the home schooling sector by the end of November 2014.  We will seek feedback from the sector on this document to ensure we have accurately captured what is working well and what people would like to see changed.  The feedback we receive from the home schooling sector will inform us of the next steps.  Any proposed next steps will be provided to the home schooling sector for comment also by the end of November 2014.

I am sorry this is so long, but I want this post, with all the information in it, to go far and wide. Let us get as many home educators as possible to fill out this survey.

Half way down this page http://www.elshaddaiministries.us/topics/images/Talking%20Points%20and%20Letter%20to%20Editor.pdf is Keys to Good Letter Writing – Letters to Editors. You might like to take a look at this page to see if there are any tips that might help you in filling out the survey or writing an email to the MoE,

Addresses for sending the Scoping Survey back:

email: Home.Schooling@minedu.govt.nz

snail mail: Lucy Ambrose, 45-47 Pipitea St, Wellington

phone: 04 463 8946 | Ext 48946

or look for the addresses in Jim Greening’ letter.

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 and relevant 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…https://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 example 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

Feedback Form (Problem Scoping Survey) on MoE website

Email to the MoE about the Scoping Survey from a Home Educator

Problem Scoping Survey: ideas and deadline

MoE’s reply to Yumiko’s email about the Scoping Survey


Please share/forward this link with other home educators.


From the Smiths:


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


Needing help for your home schooling journey:



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

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


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

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

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

Coming Events: https://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/