Meeting: 31 July 2017 to discuss the formation of a Victorian Home Education Advisory Committee (VHEAC)
- The VHEAC election procedure was agreed. The VRQA will send out an email to initiate nominations and voting and HEN will conduct a poll to elect 6-8 representatives.
[Ed note: this email is now expected to go out 14th or 15th Aug].
- Election participation is on an opt-in basis i.e those who wish to vote will add their own email address to a HEN run mailing list.
- HEN gave a commitment to use email addresses only for the purposes of the VHEAC election.
- HEN indicated that commencing this process later than expected may mean the elected members aren’t available for the first meeting. It was agreed that if this is the case, HEN will nominate 3 or 4 additional people as interim VHEAC members for the 31 Aug meeting.
- Meeting attended by Chris Ingham (Deputy CEO of VRQA)
- VRQA update indicated HEN would be invited to:
- nominate someone for the interview panel for the Homeschooling unit staff commencing with the Manager Homeschooling,
- run a PD session for the VRQA staff,
- speak to the VRQA board.
- We were shown the Job Description of the Manager Homeschooling but unable to take it away. At around 6 pages it was difficult to give meaningful feedback during a meeting but we raised no objections.
- We asked what stage regulatory tools were at and were told the ‘suggested non-compulsory’ Learning Plan Templates and application form are in draft format and almost ready for ‘socialisation’ i.e. Feedback via the VHEAC. These are closer to completion than the arrangements for reviews.
- HEN indicated that the VRQA initiatives are a welcome step in the right direction.
VHEAC Terms of Reference
- Terms of Reference were agreed. HEN suggested that it would make sense to raise individual cases (properly anonymised) while they were live rather than after the event. Chris stated HEN could contact the VRQA direct if the person gave permission for us to advocate on their behalf. VHEAC discussion would then be kept to how anonymised cases should inform policy considerations after the actual case had been decided. We indicated that this was acceptable given the opportunity for HEN to advocate for individuals with the VRQA.
Work plans and meeting dates
- Proposed work plan circulated with agenda. No additional items were added during the meeting but additional items will be added over time.
- First VHEAC meeting dates set [Now confirmed as Thurs 31st Aug 2- 4pm, Wednesday 27th Sept 2:45 – 4:45 , Thursday Oct 26 2-4 pm].
- FAQs were answered much as previously. DET intends to develop an FAQ resource in consultation with the VHEAC to ensure it is responsive to community concerns. These were the answers given:
- The ‘Where and When’ of learning plans is not intended to confine people to their homes “Just as it is not appropriate to confine school kids to their classroom”. Where people educate across two homes, they would register both.
- Whether interstate arrivals need to put kids in school while awaiting registration will depend on the individual case. The 28-day period commences when application is made.
- Australian citizenship is not necessary for registration but it is the applicant’s responsibility to check their visa requirements. Victorian residency is required for registration.
- DECV materials are ‘close’ and may be provided to HEN for our website and/or in hard copy.
- Glenda Jackson has agreed to join VHEAC.
- DET would welcome input on a disability advocate.
- The Regulations Roadshow to explain the new requirements will commence in October.
- DET envisages that VHEAC will run for a year or two but it will be collectively reviewed at the end of 2017.
HEN comments on the meeting and current state of affairs
We appreciate the collaborative overtures from the VRQA and we are hopeful this marks the beginning of a more productive relationship with both DET and the VRQA.
Having said that, our fundamental objections to the regulations remain:
- We very much want parents to have the right to remove children from dangerous school situations. We are not reassured that an absence can be approved by a principal with two levels of appeal if denied – such a system still leaves a child at risk during three levels of application.
- We still don’t know what Learning Plans, Reviews or the Application Form will look like and we remain concerned these details lie beyond parliamentary scrutiny and are vulnerable to change.
There are currently no commitments on:
- The possibility of provisional registration.
- The longevity of the VHEAC
- Regular stakeholder engagement
- Assessors with home education experience
- A dedicated home education support person within DET or the VRQA