September 24, 2020

ERO: Homeschooling

ERO: Homeschooling

Every child in New Zealand has a right to education.

While most New Zealand children are educated in schools, the Government also allows parents to make other choices. Some parents choose to take on the responsibility of educating their children. In order to do this, they will have sought and been granted an exemption from enrolling their children at registered schools. This is commonly referred to as homeschooling or home educating.

In granting this exemption, the Secretary for Education accepts that each child will be taught at least as regularly and well at home as in a registered school. If a child is not being taught as regularly and well as in a registered school the Secretary for Education can revoke the Certificate of Exemption.

ERO carries out reviews when requested by the Secretary for Education, or in other particular circumstances.

For more information please contact ERO.

Education Review Office – Corporate Office
Level 1, 101 Lambton Quay
Box 2799, Wellington
New Zealand

Phone: 0-4-499 2489
Fax: 0-4-499 2482
Email: info@ero.govt.nz

A Bit of Political Advice to Home Educators

A Bit of Political Advice to Home Educators

The Editor would like to mention two things: When to speak and when not to speak.

The news that there will no longer be regular blanket reviews of everyone of us but only reviews of those over which there are specific questions isundoubtedly good news.

But this is the kind of news to keep to ourselves. We do not need to speak of this to anyone outside. Why? Because those who do not like home education could use this news to claim we are not being monitored properly, but that we “unqualified” parents are free to teach — or not to teach — as we please. Ed Balls in the UK is using this argument to
justify vast new interventions by the state to make sure the children are safe. After all, if state agents don’t get to see the children on a regular basis, who will be able to tell whether they are being abused in the home or not? That is, parents are all guilty until proven innocent. There are too many out there who think that way. And there are some within the home education community who think this way too.

Last time reviews were stopped, in 1994 by Lockwood Smith, the NZ Home Schooling Association (NZHSA), also known as the Federation (now defunct), screamed to the press that we were being abandoned, that we needed and wanted reviews!! Their logic was that the Federation wanted to get in on the reviews, and had circulated a document to every library in the country explaining their rationale and offering to do this for the ERO for a mere $6M anually!

Home educators were shocked to find such manipulation for personal gain within our own ranks. And the MoE and ERO declined the offer.

That’s when we should not speak. We need to speak clearly, however, when we write our exemptions. Most of us do, but there is some thinking out there which says, “we need to play games by writing our exemption applications in School-ese, so that MoE staff can hopefully understand. They can only assess the exemption application in terms
they understand, which is compulsory schooling. But we are not schooling institutions, we are families, and most people in the school industry cannot grasp that fairly basic idea.”

OK, we must not let them think of us as schooling institutions, I agree, and so we call ourselves “home educators”  rather than “home schoolers.” But although MoE personel are a varied lot from anti- to pro-HE, they are able to grasp HE (home education) and even unschooling, autonomous learning ideas….they are just biased, some more than others, and school stuff is how they’ve been trained. They have a professional and personal stake in seeing things from  school” perspectives. But they can think, and some are actually interested in learning theory and educational alternatives. Writing exemptions is the primary way we HEs educate the MoE into the mysteries of home education, unschooling, thematic studies, classical, Charlotte Mason, Steiner, mastery, principle approach, delight directed, etc., etc. Because there are no standards, no objective checklist of specific items against which the MoE can measure or even scale our exemption applications (no legal standards), but only their policy documents and professional opinion, we need to insist on our independence and the maximum scope allowed by the legal parameters of “at least as regularly and well as in a registered school.” This is pretty wide, for a registered school is not the same as a state school but encompasses every school in the land from the most straight laced Auckland Grammar and Rangitoto College to the most alternative Tamariki and Discovery 1 in Canterbury.

Writing exemptions in school-ese can make them think we are schooling institutions just like them or that we’re trying to be like them: nothing could be further from the truth. Write just what you are.

If they insist we need to have a technology or social studies component, simply ask them to produce the Education Act chapter and verse that says so, which of course they cannot do. If they get stroppy on that one, let me know and I’ll send you a copy of a letter I have from the MoE making it clear that we do not have to include any specific topic or follow the National Curriculum Guidelines. If they say that they “must be satisfied that the child will be taught at least…” with the emphasis on “satisfied”, point out that they have to be satisfied with “regular and well”, not any particular subject.

And their list of subjects is pretty pathetic compared to all the subjects there are in the world: and they don’t even include law or politics or religion or economics or ethics or philosophy or budgeting or logistics…..subjects we each deal with every single day of our lives. So their National Curriculum Guidelines aren’t too hot anyway.

My position is that they do not have any legitimate or moral authority in the area of education, and I only cooperate with them grudgingly and only so far as needed to stay within the law. But we cannot let them stray outside the law nor require us to adopt subject A or skill B when neither A nor B is legally required. If we do not monitor the MoE, who will?

“State schooling in this country is an inherently political instrument for social and cultural reproduction…[T]he state controls what knowledge is taught in schools…through a regulated core curriculum and…through teacher education and certification…[U]niversal compulsory schooling for the working classes has always been concerned with social control. This was a major theme in the parliamentary debates that preceded the Education Act of 1877, and political
socialization has continued to be an important function of schools…the schools have always been required to transmit state ideology.” Who wrote that? John Codd, Richard Harker and Roy Nash, professors of education at Massey University on pp.10-12 in their 1985 book Political Issues in New Zealand Education. The funny thing is that they  aren’t against this, but were complaining that their pet ideology wasn’t the one being pushed through the schools at that time!

All the more reason to be out of that system, to stay out of that system and to warn all others to get their dear children out of that system of state indoctrination and propaganda.

From TEACH Bulletin

No 130 July 2009

To see the rest of the articles in the July 2009 TEACH Bulletin:

https://hef.org.nz/teach-bulletin/

or

https://hef.org.nz/category/teach-bulletin/

July TEACH Bulletin 2009

NO MORE Reviews!!! Page 1 https://hef.org.nz/2009/no-more-ero-reviews/

The Excellence of Home Education Page 1

Inter-Party Working Group – for increasing parental and student choice in education Page 2

Sweden Page 3

United Kingdom Page 4

NCEA Grades Dubious Page 5

A Bit of Political Advice to Home Educators page 5

Coming Events page 8

NO MORE Home Schooling ERO REVIEWS!!!

NO MORE Home Education ERO REVIEWS!!!

Echoing then Minister of Education Dr Lockwood Smith in 1994, that he could not justify the expense of regular reviews on such a low-risk group as home educators, Chief Review Officer Graham Stoop wrote in February this year that reviews of home educators are not efficient or effective. Posted on the ERO website is the following: “From 1 July 2009 ERO will carry out reviews only when requested by the Secretary for Education, or in other particular circumstances.”

This is in line with the present central government’s drive to cut bureaucratic costs. Minister in charge of the ERO, Anne Tolley, said in February: “I have asked ERO to identify schools that are performing consistently well and, accordingly, from March 1, these schools will be exempt from the current three-yearly ERO reviews and will instead be reviewed every four to five years.”

In December 2008, the Finance Minister advised Cabinet to do a line-byline review of expenditure. Home Education reviews were found to account for $283,000 out of a total budget of $28,675,000 or 0.987% (less than 1%). Graham Stoop wrote: “This programme is considered to be low risk to the education priorities of the Government. In 2007/08 ERO completed 644 homeschooling reviews from a total of 6,169 homeschooled students [at an average cost of $439.44 per review]. ERO could not provide assurance that the terms of exemption were being met in only 35 of the 644 reviews [a 5.4% “failure” rate]. This has been the pattern over many years.”

About 35 reviews a year will continue to be made, reviews initiated by the MoE as a result of concerns brought to the Ministry’s notice about particular home educating families. It was felt by home educators in discussions with the ERO back in the years from 1994 to 1999 when no regular reviews were being held, that the bad eggs rose to the top and became very obvious to everyone. Consequently, more exemptions were revoked during that time, with fewer reviews being held, than in the years prior to 1994.

A senior member of the ERO, with much experience in dealing with home education reviews, wrote the following in an email dated 30 July:

The reality is home schooling has been found to be low risk. Several things stand out in my mind relating to home schooling and they are:

  • home schooling families have support from other homeschoolers and access to people through support networks and
  • through the Internet;
  • home schooling families are no longer isolated unless they choose to be;
  • there is easy access to a considerable range of resources;
  • the skills of home schooling parents are well used;
  • home schooling is being seen more as a viable educational option;
  • ICT is a powerful communication and information gathering tool and home schooling families use this tool;
  • people liked the affirmation that home schooling reviews affirmed good practice; and
  • despite initial concerns the feedback ERO has received relating to the home school review process is mostly positive.

This person also felt that home  education reviews would not be reinstated for quite some time.

Conjecture will not be slow among home eduators in relation to “what will the MoE do now? Will they make it more difficult to get an exemption?” There is no particular reason to believe this, apart from the obvious fact that National has the same totalitarian tendencies as does Labour…they only tend to move a bit slower. This coalition with the ACT Party, however, does change things a bit.

Heather Roy of the ACT Party is an Associate Minister of Education… home education fits perfectly into their philosophy of freedom of choice for parents in education and freedom of self determination in how to order one’s family affairs.

Back in 1995, the MoE instituted, for one year only, voluntary written reviews wherein home educators wrote to the MoE about how their home education enterprise was doing. The MoE said they really enjoyed reading the reviews as it was the only feedback they ever got from home educators after issuing the exemptions, the ERO being the ones to contact home educators after that. But the MoE also caught a lot of flak as a result of requesting these reviews, being accused of going outside their statutory powers in asking for such reviews and of trying to get home educators to  incriminate themselves, etc.

What we home educators need to remember just now is that the current coalition government with ACT MPs holding Ministerial portfolios means we have friends in Parliament and an officially friendly MoE philosophy for the time being. This is a time to raise the flag of accomplishments, achievements,  discoveries, the joys, benefits and satisfactions of the home education option to the population at largeand to the MPs in particular.

From TEACH Bulletin

No 130 July 2009

To see the rest of the articles in the July 2009 TEACH Bulletin:

https://hef.org.nz/teach-bulletin/

or

https://hef.org.nz/category/teach-bulletin/

July TEACH Bulletin 2009

NO MORE Reviews!!! Page 1

The Excellence of Home Education Page 1

Inter-Party Working Group – for increasing parental and student choice in education Page 2

Sweden Page 3

United Kingdom Page 4

NCEA Grades Dubious Page 5

A Bit of Political Advice to Home Educators page 5 https://hef.org.nz/2009/a-bit-of-political-advice-to-home-educators/

Coming Events page 8

Preparing for an ERO Review by Craig Smith

Revised edition – October 2008

Preparing for an ERO Review by Craig Smith

New Zealand Home Educator’s Guidebook

Twenty A5 pages of insightful and helpful comment on the imminent arrival of the Review Officer. Chapters include: Overall Strategies, What They”re Looking For, What if You”ve Changed Curriculum, Access to Children, Home or Neutral Venue, Coping with a Negative Report, etc.

Revised edition includes having a review from an unschoolers perspective plus more.

To order do one of the following:

send email to sales@hef.org.nz with visa number

post cheque or visa number to PO Box 9064, Palmerston North

fax: 06 357-4389

phone: 06 357-4399

Trademe (fees added):  http://www.trademe.co.nz/Members/Listings.aspx?member=2366144

Sella (No added fees):  http://www.sella.co.nz/store/4ym9qg/home-education-foundation/display-100

MoE/ERO Reviews

Some-one asked on hefnetnz http://groups.yahoo.com/group/hefnetnz/ and Trademe Message Board http://www.trademe.co.nz/Community/MessageBoard/Messages.aspx?id=29810245&threadid=29810245

“Is it TRUE that the MoE have decided to review every home schooled child in the next 12 months?”

Here is Craig’s answer:

Gidday all,

I think you can relax about this. Back in 1997/8 it was found that
neither the MoE nor the ERO actually had the legal authority to conduct
reviews of home educators. The Education Legislation Amendment Act (No.
2) closed up that loophole by adding sections 328A through 328D to the
main Act plus a couple other bits and pieces. So now it appears that the
ERO (not the MoE) has the power to order either general or specific
Reviews. The MoE buys a certain number of Reviews from the ERO each
year, about 600 or so, I believe. That’s just under 10% of the home
educated children out there.

For all of the approximately 6,500 home educated children to be reviewed
in the next 12 months would be a massively expensive logistical exercise
in terms of money, time and personnel. It won’t happen. They have to
give each of you one month notice (don’t ever accept less than this),
and then some of you will sadly inform them that the date they suggested
is totally out of the question for this or that reason.

It wouldn’t hurt to, at this time, check out what the Education Act
actually says in this regard. You can go to:

http://www.legislation.govt.nz

and click on “Acts” search and then type in “education act” under “quick
search title”, then click the first item in the list, “Education Act
1989” and read through Sections 323 through 328D. It doesn’t hurt to
have a squizz at the enrollment, attendance and exemption bits in
Sections 20 through 35A and the bit about truancy officers in Section
31. It is all very instructive.

I cannot find anywhere in the Education Act or any of its Amendments
that any school is required to teach anything in particular. Section
35A(1)c requires private schools (not state schools) to inculcate the
sentiments of patriotism and loyalty, but I cannot find that state
schools are required to do any more than be open and provide teaching of
a secular character…that is, it doesn’t appear to me that schools are
required by law to teach reading, writing, arithmetic or anything else.
And a read through Sections 60 through 64 does not convince me that even
state schools are required by law to follow the national curriculum
guidelines, which themselves don’t seem to require much of anything
either, except sexuality education all across primary and secondary
years.

Regards,

Craig Smith
Moderator, Hefnetnz

National Director, Home Education Foundation

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