By Bekah Carman
The Victorian government is trying impose new regulations on home education in Victoria. These would create an ability to reject applications for home education as well as increase the power to cancel existing registrations. Ostensibly, the reason for the changes is to ensure all our children are receiving a quality education, and to make home educating parents improve our approach to educating our children.
I question this assertion – if quality education is what matters, then why would anyone have their application rejected or registration cancelled?
An application for registration would, presumably, be rejected if the accompanying learning plans were deemed “not good enough”. A registration would be cancelled if either a family refused to comply with the VRQA’s request for information, or if during a review, it was shown that the education provided was “not good enough”.
My question is, how does this ensure quality education? I don’t think it does. A rejected application or cancelled registration would ensure one of two things – the family home educates under the radar or they send their child to school. Now, we could say that the latter would ensure quality education – to the states standards perhaps, but that is contentious in the extreme as we all know too well. So really, neither of these possible consequences actually ensures quality education.
Especially if the child has been removed from school for safety reasons – such as the young boy on the Autistic Spectrum in NSW who was, for three weeks, sexually abused in the school by another student. He is scared, traumatised, anxious and suicidal, even sometimes homicidal. He cannot enter public or school toilets because of what happened to him in the school toilets three years ago. The education system failed him, three teachers failed him by ignoring him, accusing him of lying and even punishing him for what happened to him. And yet the Education Department is trying to force him to go back.
How can such a child learn in an environment that only fills him with fear? How can a child learn when he is trying to keep from wetting himself in class because he is too scared to go to the school toilets? What sort of education will such a child gain in school? He won’t be able to learn, he won’t be able to absorb information, he won’t be able to listen, he might not even be able to think or function properly.
Where does quality education come in here?
If quality education is what truly matters to our government, then we shouldn’t need permission to home educate, we shouldn’t need to be approved. We certainly shouldn’t face the possibility of having a registration rejected or cancelled. Because this doesn’t create quality education, in fact it does, in some cases, ensure the opposite.
What should happen then if someone sends in a “bad” learning plan, or shows “bad” education during a review? How can we make sure that a quality education happens when it seems obvious, to the state, that it is not happening?
The state should work for it. Instead of rejecting an application because of an unsatisfactory learning plan, help the family create a better learning plan. Instead of cancelling a registration because of an unsatisfactory review – help the family improve the educational opportunities within the home. Provide resources, workshops, information, support and help to those families who need it.
If you want quality education in our homes, then work to help make that happen in those rare cases where it isn’t happening.
Or is quality education not the real agenda here?