By Pavlina McMaster
I couldn’t decide on a heading. Read this, then choose one:
- WOULD YOU WANT TO BE HOMESCHOOLING IN NSW? WELL, YOU MIGHT AS WELL BE.
- THE WITCH HUNT HAS BEGUN
- VRQA’S ULTIMATE GOAL
Currently, in Victoria, there is at least one home educator being persecuted. They were reported by someone who lives in the same town as them, who doesn’t know them or their kids, but is openly anti-home education. This family is experiencing the VRQA’s latest version of a “review”, and it looks something like this:
- The VRQA requested information for a review – evidence of learning taking place. A complaint had been made and the VRQA were investigating. Reviews where there is reasonable cause for concern are in line with current regulations although the Support Materials specify the process should be more supportive than it is.
- The home educator supplied a wealth of evidence, from written records to photographic evidence.
- The VRQA came back and said that this is not sufficient, that the home educator must provide evidence of learning, and supplied curriculum documents for her to report against (requiring a home educator to comply with a set curriculum is outside their powers – even under the proposed regulations).
- At the same time, the VRQA also asked for a plan for 2017, and again supplied curriculum pages to be completed (this is also outside their current powers and, although Learning Plans are included in the draft regulations, they must address the 8 Key Learning Areas and there is no requirement to conform with a set curriculum).
- The home educator advised that they are buying Complete Australian Curriculum for this year.
- The VRQA then said that this is “not advised”, and is currently pressuring the home educator to sign up for Distance Education instead.
If this doesn’t scare you, it should. The VRQA have been asking for more with each review and reviews are not being conducted in accordance with the criteria set down in the Support Materials. Under the draft regulations, VRQA could do this to ANYONE (and will), without the family being reported – and the Support Materials (our best protection against bureaucratic abuse) will be rendered obsolete by the changed regulations. The RIS states that a percentage of home educators will be reviewed each year, BUT THERE ARE NO GUIDELINES SET OUT FOR THIS PROCESS. At least the current regulations are on our side, but under the draft regulations (going live 25th June unless we manage to stop them) they have given themselves UNLIMITED POWER to deregister people, and to force them to send their children back to school.
Comments they have made to individuals who have contacted them regarding home ed include “Home schooling is a legal option but you do need to understand the ramifications, the full ramifications of it,” and “You just haven’t found the right school yet.” They are clearly bent on reducing our numbers, by fair means or foul (and foul seems to be the flavour of the month). While the people who work at VRQA are human, too, their job description evidently includes “Send as many home schoolers back to school as possible.”
If you think the NSW system is horrific, you’d be right, but it could actually end up being WORSE than that in Victoria, because at least NSW regulations are more transparent.
If you think that VRQA is trying to get people back into mainstream education (especially school) you would also be right.
Go to this page to find out what you can do: //home-ed.vic.edu.au/hands-off-home-ed/
Make no mistake, this is a 21st century witch hunt. And people, we’re the witches.