Problem Scoping Survey: ideas and deadline

The Problem Scoping Survey is due back 3 October (revised date).

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

Click on this link to go to the MoE website:

I have been trying to write this post for a couple of days now. Then Dr. Yumiko Olliver-Gray sent me her email to the MoE. Yumiko’s email explained very clearly what a lot of people have been thinking. Comments I have been getting about Yumiko’s email are all similar “Thanks for this, Barbara. Dr. Oliver-Gray expressed the thoughts I had had very eloquently. Look forward to MoE’s reply.” “I have been reluctant to fill out the form for many of the reasons stated.” “I felt anything that I say could be used against me so I am reluctant to say anything.” “I have tried to fill the form out more than once but haven’t known where to start. I couldn’t figure out why.  This explains why!”

I believe that it has been a progression for us as well as for the new MoE staff.

1. The Red Tape Cluster Buster team started contacting us about the getting rid of the non essentials in the forms and that got extended to anything in the forms and the processes the MoE use.

2. Then the new staff in the National Office contacted me, NCHENZ and several Support Groups to have “Getting to know you meetings”

The next thing we know Meredith and I get this email from the National Office asking us to get the word out about the Problem Scoping Survey that they were sending out that day either by email or snail mail.

It didn’t get sent out that day, nor for several days – technical problems. Not everyone got it. And they decided not to send the snail mail version of it.

It has been so confusing for most people. The MoE are looking at every area of the MoE not just home educators. I have written a few emails recently to them and have seen positive results. I am expecting to see some good results from the Red Tape Cluster Buster meetings, the getting to know you meetings and these surveys. It will be interesting to see how they answer this email from Yumiko tomorrow.

A few days ago I wrote this post to help everyone see the benefit of filling out the Survey.  If you have not read this post yet then please do.

Background information included in link above

– New Staff in the National MoE Office since 1 July

– Correspondence with the National Office of the MoE in April and more recently

– Getting to Know you Meetings

– Cluster Buster Meetings

Some Concerns people have (with answers from my perspective) included in link above. Some of the concerns include (check this link for my answers):

  • “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.”
  • “I think its still hard to have a conversation with them when we are speaking different languages.”
  • 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’.”
  •  The whole focus on ‘success’ raises quite a few flags – what on earth do they mean by ‘success’? (with an answer from the MoE)
  • “The actual form is not user friendly or clear.  I am not even sure where to start with it.” (with an answer from the MoE)

Here are some ideas to write about – some from the link above and some extra ones – 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.

UPDATE: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?)

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.

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 anything else is policy.

4. Beneficiaries being told by some WINZ offices that they cannot home school and be on the benefit.
5. Exemption form on line-to be filled out 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 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.”


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:
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.
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 of the MoE to do 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 not working
2. What is working
3. How things can be improved
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.

It does not have to be on the form. You can snail mail it into them with no return address.

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.

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 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


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 started


Information on getting an exemption

This link is motivational:

Exemption Form online:

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