HEN reps were asked to attend a DET meeting at short notice on Friday allegedly to discuss our submission.
We were told the regulations will be tabled in parliament soon. There will be no changes to the home ed section.
Typically, the department would not give a date but available dates are 24/5, 25/5, 6/6/, 7/6, 8/6, 20/6, 21/6, 22/6.
DET claimed the regulations are light-touch and gave the impression the home education community has over-reacted.
The most senior DET person present admitted to not having read many of the submissions. Of the two others present, one (in charge of the republication procedure) had read every submission, the other many submissions.
We were somewhat surprised to receive a call to come in to discuss our submission when DET has had it since 28th Feb and shown no interest in discussion. The meeting did not address HEN’s submission at all and there seemed not point in doing so (given the decision for the regulations to proceed unchanged had already been made.)
Instead they wanted to talk more about the policy which will follow the regulations but were vague on the detail. They gave away no information on what stage the guidelines and forms are at or whether they’ll be tabled with the regulations. They didn’t commit to any home ed input on policy but said they were “interested in our views” especially on a Home Education Advisory Committee (which they didn’t commit to having). We need to engage in the process but not depend on it. i.e. We still need to fight the regs and work on a disallowance motion.
We discussed plans and they insist it is not their intention to require full scale lesson plans, more for people to identify where their kids are, where they need to be and how they intend to move forward. We pointed out that the detail given in the regulations (full year, resources to be used etc) together with the fact that the detail is deferred to the VRQA, creates the impression of a much higher level than they are talking about. We got no acknowledgement this was a problem. Instead, Andrew said it created the ability to shape policy over time, after learning what is working etc. and that if the regulations were too proscriptive, there would be limits to what they can change – both the good and the bad. We reiterated that a good policy to start could easily be changed six months down the track with no obligation on them to consult us. We said the regulations contain no safety net to ensure home education input. They kept coming back to statements beginning ‘There is no intention to…’
Privacy breach & republishing submissions
David Howes (Assistant Deputy Secretary – Schools) said the department’s regret over the privacy breach could not be overstated. We asked who is conducting the inquiry and they said it was an independent legal firm who have interviewed DET staff involved in the publication. (If any home educator has been interviewed, please email Sue at firstname.lastname@example.org). Their report is due Tuesday with a focus on recommendations for DET’s systems for the future. It will be shared with the Privacy Commissioner, and a summary will be published.
Submissions go live again on Tuesday. Every person with a submission being republished will be emailed letting them know it is live. If you have not yet responded to the consent email, you can still do so. 360 people had responded as at 3pm Friday with 351 of them consenting to republish. If people respond afterwards, DET may consider putting up a second batch of submissions subsequently.
So as DET move forward, basically, they are saying ‘just trust us, we wouldn’t do anything unreasonable’ while:
- The VRQA actively discourage home ed.
- Consultation on the regs has been farcical, why will consultation on policy be any different?
- DET haven’t changed the regulations one iota in response to 500 home ed submissions.
- They’ve been massively dismissive and careless of our submissions and our privacy.
- They have given us no commitment to meaningful input on the policy, guidelines, forms, training, staff to support their whole plan.
- They won’t commit to having assessments and reviews done with home ed experience.
- They have not committed to the formation of a HSAC.
Discussion welcome in the member group