October 3, 2023

Scoping Survey: Barbara Smith

Dear Jim, Sonya and Lucy

Thank you for this opportunity to discuss what is working, what is not working and what could be changed in the future between the MoE and home educators.

We have had a good experience getting exemptions in the past. The first couple were with a school Principal. Then the next few were with the Wanganui office before the Lower Hutt Office took over doing the last few. We have 8 children and my last exemption was my most difficult.

First because it was our 8th and last exemption we decided to take a bit of a different approach.

18 July 2011 I wanted to send this into the Lower Hutt Local Office:

Grace Ariana Timmins

Smith 2010March 2010

We have home educated 5 children completely and are in the process of home educating two others. We now need to apply for an exemption for Grace.  Our first five children have been very successful in their careers:

Genevieve is a fully qualified Legal Executive. She worked for many years for a Lawyer as a Legal Executive before getting married. She worked her way to the top of Air Training Corps to Warrant Officer and was part of the Squadron’s champion marching team. She was a Manawatu Representative Softball player.

Zach is Marketing Director for a multi Million Dollar business in the USA. He has many responsibilities with a number of staff under him. Zach did a paper at Massey and got an A. Zach was also an officer in the Air Training Corps and part of the champion marching team.

Alanson is an Avionics Technician for the RNZAF. He got the trophy for academic excellence at the end of boot camp. His graduating course had the highest point average for any Avionics course in recorded history. So Alanson handled his strenuous academic course with ease. He is now doing University studies while continuing to do Avionics for the RNZAF. He has also represented the RNZAF playing sports in England and Australia.

Charmagne Smith Dip.HND  can put her hand to anything and be successful. She is a brilliant seamstress, painter and paperhanger, plasterer and does floor and wall tiles too. She is also an expert furniture upholsterer, tiler, dressmaking pattern drafter, highland dancing teacher, International English Country Dance instructor http://ecdnz.weebly.com/, music teacher and language instructor including sign language. Charmagne has helped (was the Foreman for the job), build, clad, roof and floor a shed 35 x 14 meters, dropping 22 telephone poles into large holes for uprights, cementing them in, managing the project of building nine 700kg trusses (her pattern-drafting skills applied to boards 5.3 metres long as well as to lengths of cloth 53 centimetres long), driving a CAT 930 articulated dirt mover, arc welding, oxy welding, plasma cutting and a myriad of hand tools. She also does gourmet cooking for large crowds. http://www.photoblog.com/charmagne

Jeremiah has just passed all his exams and tests for getting into the Police Force.

Jedediah and Kaitlyn are still being home educated.

We plan to give Grace a similar education to our other children who have become very successful in the endeavours they have chosen. We have always had very good ERO reviews therefore we can confidently assure you that we will and can teach Grace as regularly and well as in a registered school.

This was all we were going to send in. Then Craig decided that he would like to add this to it:

Section 3 of the Education Act gives New Zealand children the right to a free education in state-funded institutions. But Sections 20 and 25 prove that neither the children nor their parents are legally free to choose whether they’ll make use of this right but are instead legally compelled by the state to do two things: 1) enrol the children with a state-registered schooling institution and 2) attend that institution whenever it is open.

So while the Act declares children to have a right to an education, the Act only quarantees that they will be compelled to be enrolled at and attend a state-approved institution. The children are not guaranteed, compelled or even required by law to actually learn anything at all, to actually become educated or to receive an education. They are only required to do their time in one of these institutions.

We praise God that Section 21 of the Education Act exists to give parents and children an escape from this futile scenario.

We cannot imagine what our forefathers were thinking of in 1877 when they passed the original Education Act compelling wee six-year-olds to come out from under the influence and protection of their homes and their parents to instead be intensively instructed in a politically mandated curriculum by agents of the state. This was a radical intervention of the state. It forced a radical re-organising of the family life of virtually every household with children. This radical and legal construct also compelled the focus of each community to shift from the church to the school. As many New Zealand authors and professional educators have said, one of the primary objectives for establishing compulsory, secular schooling in New Zealand was to socially engineer the population into a politically determined profile.

The Bible outlines the legitimate powers and duties of the state. Guaranteeing the right to an education and compelling separation from parents and attendance at a state-registered institution are decidedly not among these powers and duties. That is, the Education Act was Biblically illegitimate from day one. This is both highly significant and relevant today because the Parliament that passed the Act and the subsequent Parliaments that continue to administer the Act have all affirmed loyalty to the British Crown as part of their foundational functions and duties. The British Monarchs, from Queen Victoria in 1877 through to the present Queen Elizabeth II have all made certain oaths required of the one who would legitimately wear the Crown. To the question presented to every Monarch since 1689 by the Archbishop, “Will you to the utmost of your power maintain the laws of God, the true profession of the gospel and the Protestant reformed religion?” the Monarchs have responded, “All this I promise to do.”

In addition, a Christian prayer has been read at the start of each parliamentary session in New Zealand since 1854, when it was introduced by the first vote ever taken by the House of Representatives. Here is the prayer in its current form, adopted by Resolution of the House in 1962: “Almighty God, humbly acknowledging our need for Thy guidance in all things, and laying aside all private and personal interests, we beseech Thee to grant that we may conduct the affairs of this House and of our country to the glory of Thy holy name, the maintenance of true religion and justice, the honour of the Queen, and the public welfare, peace, and tranquillity of New Zealand, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

The prayer, the oath of the Monarch, the affirmation of loyalty by each and every MP to the Monarch and therefore to the oath as well, all combine to show clearly that the collective duty of Parliament lies is the maintenance of the laws of God according to the Protestant reformed Christian religion which has a very well-developed Biblical understanding of sphere sovereignty and separation of powers. Consequently, the radical declarations and interventions of the Education Act are both Biblically and legally illegitimate.

We give these background notes to justify and explain my declaration to you, with no disrespect meant to your respective persons or offices, that we do not acknowledge the Ministry of Education to have any legitimate authority over the education and training of our children. We consequently object in the strongest terms possible to the Act’s requirement that we seek from your office an exemption from the compulsory enrolment and attendance provisions of the Act in order to educate our children ourselves and stay within the law. But because the Ministry of Education has never endeavoured to prevent parents from fulfilling their responsibility before God to educate their own children at home but has only insisted that they register their intention to do so and give a credible written explanation of what they intend to do, and because of the Bible’s injunction to do all things decently and in order and to obey lawful authorities where possible, we do hereby register with your office, via the attached exemption application, our intention to educate at home our permanent foster daughter, Grace Ariana Timmins, over whom we have legal guardianship.

The local Lower Hutt MoE office wanted more information so Craig wrote this and we proof read it while we waited in hospital waiting rooms for tests:  CT scans, MRI, to talk with neurologists, oncologists, etc.

28 July 2011

Thank you for your letter of 22 July informing us that your office is not inclined to issue an exemption to Grace Timmins from the compulsory schooling institution attendance laws.

You note that the Act requires you to be “satisfied” that Grace will be “taught at least as regularly and well as in a registered school.” I note that “satisfied” is a somewhat subjective term. There is certainly enough objective evidence in our previous letter to generate a subjective “satisfied.” There is more evidence in this letter.

I note that a “registered school” includes any school that exists in New Zealand, from Auckland Grammar through Hare Krishna and Muslim schools and alternative schools to places like Tamariki and Discovery 1 in Christchurch. These last two hardly fit any traditional profile of a school: regular attendance is mostly voluntary; students decide what they’d like to learn, when and whether by play or other means. Porirua College Principal Susanne Jungersen summarised this very approach as the new state-school philosophy of teaching when she said of her profession that they are “not the sage on the stage but the guide on the side.” (Wellington Dominion Post of Friday 9 May 2008).  This philosophy is known formally as Social Constructivism, and according to the first paragraph of the executive summary of a research paper commissioned by the Ministry of Education and on the Ministry of Education’s own website at http://www.educationcounts.govt.nz/publications/ict/5927, social constructivism is the reigning philosophy of the NZ state classroom. That is, teachers no longer teach: they act as facilitators. They do not accept that there is propositional truth or an agreed-upon body of knowledge that must be passed along from one generation to the next, but they instead try to function on the axiom that bodies of knowledge and reality itself are social constructs rather than objective, historical, stand-alone entities that are available for anyone to examine and review. Consequently, a popular classroom approach is to get the children, as a group (socially) to construct their own bodies of knowledge and subjects which are to them (socially) worth studying.

We utterly reject this philosophy of education and can state categorically that we will not be teaching “as well as” that. Never. Neither will we endeavour to teach “as regularly as” Discovery 1 or Tamariki.

As we said in our earlier letter, “The prayer, the oath of the Monarch, the affirmation of loyalty by each and every MP to the Monarch and therefore to the oath as well, all combine to show clearly that the collective duty of Parliament lies is the maintenance of the laws of God according to the Protestant reformed Christian religion which has a very well-developed Biblical understanding of sphere sovereignty and separation of powers.” That is, parents, not the agents of the state (such as members of the Ministry of Education), have the responsibility to educate their children. Let us describe our understanding of our Biblical duty in this area. This is what we do. This is what the New Zealand Parliament should be promoting and encouraging, without the radical interventions of compulsory attendance at state schooling institutions.

God has revealed to us, His creatures, all the foundational truths, axioms and presuppositions we need to know about Him, about ourselves, the universe we live in and what He requires of us. He has made this revelation in two places. First, in a general sense, He is revealed in the universe He has created. Second, and more importantly, He is very specifically revealed in the Bible.  It is obvious, therefore, that God requires us to learn how to read and to comprehend what He intended to convey in His written word, not what we think it means. This requires a mastery of the skill of reading as well as a solid understanding of grammar, logic and the rules of hermeneutics. This is a far cry from what the current New Zealand curriculum suggests on page 18: “students are primarily making meaning of ideas or information they receive (Listening, Reading, and Viewing).”

Very early on in the Bible, Genesis 1:28, God delivers to us the overall task: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” All the hard sciences are required to carry out these tasks: animal and plant biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, medicine, logistics, economics. These, then, are also essential ingredients to a proper education.

In Matthew 28:19-20, the Lord Jesus Christ adds to and expands upon this assignment: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” Here again a large array of essential academic disciplines are needed: languages; teaching, discipling, tutoring and mentoring; communication skills of writing and speaking; Law, justice. These too are essential areas of academic training.

Furthermore, II Corinthians 5:18-20 says, “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us.” Again, look at all the skills required to fulfil this duty: communication skills and interpersonal relationship skills to handle both the message and the ministry of reconciliation between sinful people and an angry God. This is a message most people simply do not want to hear, yet we are assigned not only to deliver the message, but also to effect the reconciliation. Please note, this is not the same as conflict resolution, which is little more than a game of horse swapping. This is effecting true reconciliation, so one must dig deep and deal with core personality issues and emotions. And since we are to be as ambassadors, we must do all things to the highest standard of excellence, including our manners, our speech, our dress, our deportment, the accuracy and earnestness of the message.

Lest anyone be tempted to say that state schools can inculcate these skills and bodies of knowledge just as well, may I point out that these academic disciplines are all aimed at a particular goal: to equip us to serve the Lord Jesus Christ. He says in Psalm 111:10 that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” One may have a head full of facts and a number of skills under one’s belt. But if one does not fear the Lord, he or she does not have the wisdom properly to use those skills or those bodies of knowledge. The secular clause of the Education Act ensures that the beginning point of wisdom – the fear of the Lord – will not characterise the teaching (or facilitating) of a state school. Consequently state school methodologies and curriculum subjects and educational philosophies are all antithetical to what we are required to do in the realm of educating our children. So while the Education Act may say we must teach “as well as in a registered school,” we will not be at all similar to it. In addition, we have little use for a registered school’s “regularity,” which is something like 9 to 3, five days a week, whereas we see education as a 24/7/365 occupation.

The 4th of the Ten Commandments tell us, “Six days you shall labour and do all your work. But the seventh is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work.” Which doesn’t mean we don’t learn. We congregate with others to worship the Lord. This includes listening to the liturgy of the Church and the Word of God preached. The object here is to understand its personal and social relevance and to make personal application. There is much singing and also much socialising.

We work according to priorities. Number one priority is our individual and also corporate walk with the Lord Jesus Christ (This includes personal reading, comprehension and application of the Scriptures, possibly note-taking or journaling, prayer and probably Scripture memory. This may also include other devotional, doctrinal or theological reading and discussions.) Number two is interpersonal relationships within the family. (Looking to see how we may help one another do chores or fulfil duties and meet deadlines is a good way to make sure no one is holding any grudges or bitterness.) Third is developing Christian character qualities. (Biographies and doing things for others outside the family really help here.) Fourth is developing a positive, energetic work ethic. (There is always plenty of work to do around the home, especially when all 7 of us are home most of the time and the family income is generated from this place, and three vehicles are needed for the four drivers and three non-drivers.) Fifth is the rest of the academic disciplines not covered in the foregoing. Each day we start with our number one priority, for it is always number one. If we actually do not get down to hitting the fifth priority, the other academic disciplines, in any one day well, that is most unfortunate. Next day we do not start where we left off. We start, as usual, at our Number one priority, our walk with the Lord, and we work our way down the list as usual.

The skills the children must master (Reading, Writing and Arithmetic) we find it takes a fair bit of one-to-one tuition. All the other subjects can be done with the entire age-range by simply reading and discussing good books together, expecting more from the older ones and less from the younger ones.

This has been our lifestyle for quite a few years now. Grace has already been absorbed into this routine since she was able to comprehend what was going on and respond cognitively…which she did via New Zealand Sign Language taught to her by our older daughter Charmagne. At this point I’d like to quote fellow home educator Craig Mortimer from Northland. He said, “We are supposed to teach as regularly and well as in a registered school. If that’s all I do, I’ll consider myself a failure.” Amen, brother. Amen!

Thank you for this opportunity to explain what we are about. We look forward to receiving an exemption certificate for Grace soon.

Craig wanted to emphasis that we would be “teaching” Grace more regularly and well than in a registered school. We want to give our children the best education that we can. The best education that we can give our children is a thoroughly Biblical Education and for it to be very broad. We want to teach our children how to think for themselves. We wanted to be honest in our exemption application to let you know what we are teaching our children not what we think the MoE wants to hear. We have a very unschooling/natural learning approach to the academic school subjects. But we also want to train up our children in the way they should go, so that when they are old, they will not depart from it.

I want to note here that I am writing personally the way that Craig and I wanted to home educate our children. Home Educators are all different and very independent.

On reflection now, I am disappointed that a MoE staff member could not see that we would be giving Grace an education which would far exceed “as regularly and as well as in a regular school”.  Just as the natural learning/unschooling philosophy is not understood by the MoE neither is a thoroughly Christian education. We want our children to be able to go as missionaries to the most backward Country and be able to be a “Jack of all trades” and help out in every way possible. To be confident in health care, agriculture, animal care, English, geography, history, music, art, horticulture, home economics (sewing, cooking), Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Spanish, French etc, Politics, note taking, book reports, letter writing, essay writing, grammar, drama, medicine, debating, reasoning, logic, research, creative writing, handwriting, spelling, calligraphy, worldviews, Psychology, Bible, critical thinking, farming, Industry, sport, dancing, Culture, nature, memory work, Apothecary, Kitchen Cosmetology, hermeneutics, animal and plant biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, logistics, economics, languages; teaching, discipling, tutoring and mentoring; communication skills of writing and speaking; Law, justice  and all the other things Craig mentioned in Grace’s exemption.

Along with that our 5 oldest children had all graduated from being home educated and are all very successful in their own chosen fields. I feel that this more than anything showed that we were more than capable of teaching Grace as regularly and well as in a registered school. But our exemption certificate was declined at a very emotional time in our lives.

August 26, 2011 Grace turned 6

In the last week of September 2011

This exemption application was declined. We received the letter from the MoE the week before Craig died.

We were told to appeal to the Secretary of Education. Craig always advised parents not to go this way.

Craig died 30 September 2011

So I put in a completely new application based on our previous one for Kaitlyn in 2006. We received Kaitlyn’s exemption in less than 10 days with no questions asked. So I thought I would have no problems with Grace’s application based on Kaitlyns. Because Grace was already 6 and I had no intentions of sending her to school. I then added a bunch more to Grace’s 2nd exemption attempt.

As you will see in the next link I had to send back a book to the MoE when they asked for more information – almost a brand new exemption. So it felt like to me a grieving wife that I had put in 3 exemption applications for Grace. I thoroughly regret giving all the information to the MoE for Grace’s exemption instead of fighting it. But I put that application to the MoE in the first couple of weeks after Craig died as Grace was already 6. I didn’t have the reserves in me to do it after the 7 week battle we had with Craig’s health and then the grieving after his death. Now I feel that I let people down by shovelling more information off to the Lower Hutt Local Office instead of standing up for what was right.

Grace’s second exemption application

Grace finally got her exemption 1 November 2011 – 2 and a bit months after she turned 6.

So now is my opportunity to put things right so that no more people have to go through this. I have heard from several people who are upset with the unreasonable requests for more information. It is as if the people in the Lower Hutt Local Office do not even read the initial exemption application because they ask for information that is already in the initial information. Or they ask for information that is not necessary for a 6 year old.

Since writing to you last month about a couple of families I am still hearing about people who feel that they are being asked for too much information from the Lower Hutt Local Office. They are being asked for too detailed a timetable when the exemption form gives options. We don’t have to give a timetable at all – our choices are:  timetable or integrated curriculum description or description of typical routines used. Has Gail even read the exemption form properly? The Lower Hutt Local MoE office does not understand home education at all. They are expecting us to be like little schools – it seems keeping to school hours and packing in the academics – way too much for a 6 year old.

The majority of home educators do not have their children sitting exams – some do. Over the years we have been encouraged by this survey by the Dominion newspaper:

This Wellington Dominion survey is probably even more relevant today than it was back in 1995.

Almost half of all unemployed people hold educational qualifications but in a recent survey employers ranked qualifications at the bottom of a list of 20 desirable attributes for selecting potential employees, the Employment Service says.

In a survey of 500 randomly selected employers, qualifications came last in traits employers considered most desirable for employees. Top of the list was:

  1. attitude followed by:
  2. honesty
  3. tidy appearance
  4. amiability
  5. enthusiasm
  6. reliability
  7. communication skills
  8. motivation
  9. punctuality
  10. experience
  11. flexibility
  12. fast learning
  13. efficiency
  14. commitment
  15. knowledge
  16. education
  17. interest
  18. personality
  19. stability
  20. willingness to work
  21. skills AND
  22. qualifications

(From Wellington Dominion, 6 October 1995.)

This list above is another wonderful curriculum for home educators – something which is very easy for us to be working on on a daily basis with our children as we interact with them in our homes, activities we are involved in and in the community. In fact we are hearing stories about this more and more. In Te Anau employers are waiting (more like fighting over) for the next home education graduates. They would much rather employ home educators because of the qualities in the list above are seen more in home educators than in school children. Then today I heard of another young man who was commended because of the above qualities. This is something that home educators excel at because we don’t have to deal with peer pressure. Our children’s friends are of all ages from 99-0. We don’t need any curriculum to instil these qualities into our children – just our daily living, it all happens in a very natural way and something very hard to write out in the exemption form. In fact it happens all day – when we sit in our homes, when we walk by the way, when we lie down and when we rise.

Deuteronomy 6:4-7

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

I would also like to share with you a couple of verses that have been foundational to our home education over the 28 years that we have had an exemption to home educate our children.

Psalm 111:10-112:1-2

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all those who practice it have a good understanding.
His praise endures forever!

112 Praise the Lord!
Blessed is the man who fears the Lord,
who greatly delights in his commandments!
His offspring will be mighty in the land;
the generation of the upright will be blessed.

I have attached 5 booklets that Craig wrote. He was the writer in our family and he expressed his thoughts and convictions much clearer than I can. I am also couriering you these 5 books so that you have them in hard copies as well.

These first three books are general books for everyone
1. Applying for an exemption to Educate at Home: I would love for you to read “You Can Do IT!” It is also here on our website  https://hef.org.nz/2012/home-schooling-what-is-it-all-about/

2. An Introduction to Home Education in New Zealand

3. The Evidence Of the Superiority of Home Education Over Conventional Schooling

These next two books have been written from a Christian perspective
4. Your Worldview Has Implications

5. The Christian Imperative

5 Attachments

Preview attachment Ebook Exemption.pdf

Preview attachment Intro complete booklet.pdf

Preview attachment 24 pages of research quotes.pdf

Preview attachment YourWorldviewImplications.pdf

Preview attachment Why Christians Must Rescue.pdf

I would also love to have put everything that I mentioned in the Home Education Foundation Problem Scoping Survey in this survey.

Thank you for this opportunity to express the things that are working well between the MoE and home educators, the things that are not working well and what we would like to see improved for the future.

I look forward to seeing a copy of all the feedback and the summary of this collated feedback by the end of November 2014.  I look forward to being a part of, and being able to comment on, the feedback on this document to ensure you have accurately captured what is working well and what people would like to see changed.  I would love to be a part of the next steps and to comment on them as well.


Barbara Smith


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

Don’t forget to get your Problem Scoping Surveys into the MoE NOW. We have now run out of time. So please email your Problem Scoping Surveys now.

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 andrelevant 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

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

– The last of Craig Smith’s writings before he died 3 years ago

– MoE Problem Scoping Survey


Please share/forward this link with other home educators.


From the Smiths:


Updated 1 October 2014:  Three 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/