Problem Scoping Survey and the need for us to fill it out

UPDATE 17/09/14

From the MoE website:

We are currently seeking feedback from parents/caregivers who are home educating their children to understand what is working well and what could be improved. The feedback letter and form was emailed to those home educators that we have current email addresses for on 5 September 2014. The form can also be downloaded by clicking on the below link. Feedback closes on 26 September 2014. The Ministry will then collate the feedback and provide homeschoolers with a copy of this information and the next steps by 30 November 2014.

The feedback form is intended as a guide; feedback can be provided in any form via

For any queries please email or phone 04 463 8946.

Feedback Letter 
Feedback Form

I have heard from a lot of people (especially from those who have been home educating for a long time) that they are not going to be filling in the MoE scoping survey. I would like to encourage you think seriously about filling out the Problem Scoping Survey.
MoE scoping Home Educators

The National Office of the MoE is sending out an email or snail mail letter to all home educators today. They have asked us to put it up on our websites and pass around to other home educators.
Jim Greening’s letter to us all: scoping_letter

and the Problem scoping survey: Problem_scoping-1

I have also heard from a lot of people that they have not received their email or snail mail letter. If you have not received this then please let me know your email address and I will get the National Office to send it to you. (I will not use your email address for any other purpose.) The National Office wants all home educators to receive this scoping survey.

There are many reasons why a lot of home educators are not wanting to fill out this survey – and in the old days I would have been one of them. But I believe that we can look optimistically towards the future and I say this based on my experiences with the National Office of the MoE since July 2014.

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.  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); 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.

July 15 I had a Scoping meeting with the Jim Greening, Sonya Logan and Lucy Ambrose: 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 – more on this soon. 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:

July 28 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 philosophy having trouble getting their applications being approved when they were written throughly from that approach. Read what she said to us under “Use of the Exemption Application”.  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. The Red Tape Cluster Buster team are still meeting with people – if your home educating group would like to meet with them then please contact them or me.

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. Some of these exemption applications have now been approved which we are thankful for and trust that another one will be soon. 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.

Some Concerns people have with filling out the Problem Scoping Survey. I will try to answer some of these concerns from my perspective:

“I have received an email from the MoE and I find it a bit strange. It doesn’t say how the information will be used.”

It is my understanding that the meetings Jim, Sonya and Lucy have been having, have been to come up with a group of home educators they feel they can work with as they make changes to the forms and processes the MoE use with home educators. These will be ongoing meetings where we can discuss the forms and processes as well as any concerns that we have. We do not know who will be involved in these meetings yet.

“I think its still hard to have a conversation with them when we are speaking different languages.”

This has certainly been the problem in the past. But the purposes for the meetings: the Scoping Meetings, the Red Tape Cluster Buster meetings and the Problem Solving Survey are all ways that the MoE are using to understand home education now. We have our opportunity to speak our language to them in this Scoping Survey – I think we should take this opportunity. I trust that there will be home educators from all perspectives on the team that meets regularly with the National Office of the MoE. At the moment we are talking with the National Office of the MoE, it will take time for this to filter down to the local offices.

From Jim Greening’s letter: “The MoE is seeking to determine any areas where improvements can be made to home schooling within NZ to ensure the success of those young people involved in homeschooling.”…implies that young people involved in home educating are not currently ‘successful’.”

Something those who have been home educating for a long time can do is mention the “success” of those who have finished being home educated. This is an interesting survey by Jenny Barkley (2013) where she received answers to her survey from 162 people who had finished being home educated

 The whole focus on ‘success’ raises quite a few flags – what on earth do they mean by ‘success’?
Success means different things to different people and it is widely applied in the home education movement. It is not all about academics for many of the different philosophies.
Update: Just received this from Lucy:
The term “successes” to us means what’s working well for people or what they would like to see change in regarding to home education.

“The actual form is not user friendly or clear.  I am not even sure where to start with it.”

I agree. I am tempted to come up with our own form. There is a skill in answering media questions. Craig was good at it and tried to help others who were about to be questioned about home education. First you work out what you would like to tell the media or would like your audience to hear. Then you make sure that you get those points made early in the interview. So if an interviewer asks you a question you ignore the question for a start and say “first you would like to make three points” and go for it. By the time you have finished your three points the interviewer has gone past his first question and has lots more from the points you have made. I think we can apply this to the Scoping Survey. Think about what you would like the MoE to know about the problems that are there at the moment and in the past (especially if they have been personal for you) and get that into the Survey somehow. Then think about the best scenario you can think of for the law and policy of home education in New Zealand and get that into the survey. Don’t just look at the Survey and answer the questions – that is an extremely hard way to go about it.

Update: Just received this from Lucy:

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

“I have still not received the survey. Is it possible to just download the survey somewhere and send it in?”

If you would like to receive the survey by email then please send me your email address and I will pass it onto the right person in the MoE. I will not use that email address in any other way. If you don’t want to receive the survey by email and have not received a letter yet – please let me know. I have not heard of anyone receiving the snail mail letter yet. Update 16/09/14: I have been told that the MoE is no longer sending this out as a letter unless it is specifically asked for –  I am checking on this information.

Here are some ideas to write about. If you have any others then please leave them in the comments.Several home educators have been discussing the Red Tape Cluster Buster meetings. Please check out these links: Preparation for the MoE discussions

Discussions home educators had online at Clutter buster group or (for ease of reading as not everyone can get onto the google docs) here…

It would be wonderful if a number of people mention issues to help make the home education environment better in New Zealand. Here are some other suggestions

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

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 detramental to many families during the 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 anything else is policy.

4. Beneficaries being told by some WINZ offices that they cannot home school and be on the benefit.
5. Exemption form on line, 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 stuggles 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 stuggles. Megan is kean to get this information onto the Exemption Application forms.
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”
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.
We need to keep the MoE to the law rather than to their policy. They can change their policy but it is much harder to change the law
I had just finished this post when I got this email from Lucy. This confirms what I have written above:

Thank you for your feedback regarding the work we are doing.

In answer to the key points in your combined emails, I would like to confirm:

a)      The term “successes” to us means what’s working well for people or what they would like to see change in regarding to home education.
b)      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 in what is working well, and what home educators would like to see improved or changed with regards to home education.

These messages, along with the feedback form will be going up on our website today or tomorrow– apologies for not getting it up sooner, we have had some technical difficulties.
Please do not hesitate to convey to your members that we want to know what is working and what is not with suggested improvements.  Please also confirm that feedback does not have to be on the feedback form as we are keen to receive feedback in any way that people feel comfortable submitting.

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… (Also a lot of very good information to aid you in filling out the Problem Scoping Survey)

Record of Progress and Achievement (an exemple 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


While this is going around as many home educators as possible I would like to draw your attention to this post about the elections this coming Saturday: How each Political Party views home education


Please share/forward this link with other home educators.


From the Smiths:

Updated 22 April 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 started


Information on getting an exemption

This link is motivational:

Exemption Form online:

Coming Events:


6 thoughts on “Problem Scoping Survey and the need for us to fill it out

  1. I’ve read the reply from Jim Greeling and…well…call me cynical. The letter reads like a typical politician’s response. What am I missing?

    He says there is provision for another review by MOE “…IF THE PARENTS ACCEPT THE FINDINGS OF THE ERO REPORT…”

    This is part of the problem. What if we DO NOT ACCEPT THE FINDINGS OF THE ERO REPORT?”

    How many referendums have been held recently with overwhelming support in one direction, and the politicians have simply ignored it and done what the global cabal is dictating? If the ‘masters’ do that, what of the bureaucrats?

  2. Yes, Rob you are so right

    We all felt the same when we read Jim’s email. Note it was written 30 June. He took over his role in the National Office 1 July. I don’t think he had had any contact with home educators when he sent me that reply 30 June. He was just sprouting forth the policy without thinking too deeply about it. Since then we have had meetings with him and his team. I have sent a few emails to him.

    I was concerned when we got that letter from Jim, 30 June, but let me tell you that every since he has gone out on a limb for home educators. He personally helped one family who failed their ERO review. Then another family having difficulties getting exemptions for their children were sent them once I wrote to Jim, Sonya and Lucy. At the meetings we have had they and the Red Tape Cluster Buster team have shown that they really want to make the home education journey easier for us especially the exemption application and the process for ERO reviews.

    Jim said that home educators are his largest school. Not that he was wanting to make us into another school but that we were a large number and legitimate. All the people we have spoken to in the National MoE Office have been showing us that they want to improve on the past and to make the forms and processes better for us. We have already seen this to some extend in the links above..

  3. “He says there is provision for another review by MOE “…IF THE PARENTS ACCEPT THE FINDINGS OF THE ERO REPORT…”

    “This is part of the problem. What if we DO NOT ACCEPT THE FINDINGS OF THE ERO REPORT?”

    We have talked at length with Jim about this. This was the policy when Jim took over 1 July.

    He agrees that the wording needs to be changed. So we fully expect to have some say in how the wording is changed in the future meetings with the MoE.

  4. If anyone is still to do this survey another topic to mention is the current cancellation of exemptions when you take your kids out of the country for more than 12 months. I can live with the allowance being stopped for this period but don’t see the need to start the whole exemption process again for everyone on returning to NZ.

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