What is a Home Ed Review Like?

What is a Home Ed Review Like?

Both new and experienced home educators tend to find the idea of a review intimidating. The VRQA will be sending out letters soon, so it seems a good time to look at what to expect. 

First the facts: 

Every year 10% of registered home educators are selected for review. 

If your family is selected, you will receive an email, and the VRQA will follow up by mail, then telephone, if they do not receive a response. 

The VRQA are reviewing your education program, not your child’s progress. You demonstrate that you have provided a suitable education by outlining the opportunities provided – if you have more than one child registered, you can choose whose education will be reviewed. You can choose any child, of any age, with or without additional needs.

The review can be written (desktop), or conducted via telephone or video conferencing – you choose the option which suits you best.

If you choose a desktop review, there are optional templates available. Although you are not required to use the template, it provides a good guide to the amount of information required.

These templates are available on our website:

https://home-ed.vic.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/ 2019/01/hsrreviewtemplatebylearningarea.pdf

https://home-ed.vic.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/ 2019/01/hsrreviewtemplatebyActivity.pdf

Your email will include a provisional review date, if this does not suit you you can contact the VRQA to request a different date. Families who are reviewed, will not be selected for review again for two years. 

If you receive a review email what should you do? 

Don’t panic! Nobody has ever failed a review, and there’s plenty of support available to ensure that you won’t either. 

The VRQA wants you to pass, they are not trying to trip you up. They have no preference for a structured or secular approach over natural learning or faith based. 

You do not have to link to grade levels or curriculum outcomes, and it’s not required to show examples of your child’s work. 

You can base your review on what you have done over the last year, or last week, or any other time period that suits you – and you don’t have to state the time period selected. 

HEN volunteers can check a review before you submit, and we also run Zoom sessions to help you work out what to include. However, this is just for those who wish to have a little extra support or certainty, it’s not required.

What the VRQA wants to see is that you have provided a balanced program of learning activities. 

As an example, for the Science KLA you could talk about nature study, visiting the Zoo, kitchen science experiments, excursions, a rock collection, and building with snap circuits. If you create a written review you could write a sentence about each of these, and include a photograph of the rock collection, or experiment if you wish. If you have a telephone review, you simply chat about each item, and the reviewer will ask questions to draw out more information if necessary. 

The VRQA does not want reams of paperwork, copies of every maths assignment your child has done this year, or links to the Australian curriculum. The quantity and depth of information expected is similar to a Learning Plan, and a written review of 2-4 pages (including photos) is fine. They reviewers like to hear about interesting opportunities, ways you have integrated KLAs and a variety of resources and activities. 

But surely it’s a stressful experience? 

For some people perhaps, but the stress usually comes because people are scared that they will be judged, and possibly found wanting. The greatest reassurance comes from hearing about the experiences of others, let’s see what people said (please note that face to face reviews are no longer available):

I chose a face to face interview . The people were lovely and it was extremely relaxed and low stress . Felt like they were supportive of homeschool 

I had an in person review, she was lovely and it was so relaxed, I got lots of compliments along the way. And to think I was nervous beforehand, no need to be. 

I chose a phone interview. I emailed a few work samples ahead of the interview. We had a great chat which lasted about 45 minutes, with very positive and supportive feedback. 

I had an over the phone review. The lady was lovely and very relaxed. 

In our home. She was incredibly encouraging, interested to chat away to the kids and barely looked at the things I had prepared ! So glad I chose this option as she was super kind and interested and loved chatting to us. Was actually a ‘fun’ visit believe it or not! 

We had an over the phone chat, I enjoyed it, the lady was lovely and interested to learn more about how we do things. 

These responses were given in response to a request for feedback on Facebook, nobody had anything negative to say. Thank you to those who allowed Otherways to share their comments, and also to two HEN members who provided a more detailed description of the process: 

“We were chosen for review in the second lot during the first year the VRQA ran reviews. I chose to submit a written document, being more comfortable with writing than talking. 

As an unschooler for years, I had never kept regular notes but I did take photos. My photos were mostly from behind, as in, looking over the kids’ shoulders at whatever activity they were engaged in. . 

When it came to writing the document, I was frustrated that I had to prove myself and I felt very anxious. Others told me I had nothing to worry about because we live an enriched life. Upon reflection I saw that our kids really did have a rich variety of experiences. But ‘regular and efficient instruction’? 

My first step, after choosing which child to focus on, was to list the 8 KLAs on a sheet of paper. Next to each, I listed activities the kids had participated in over the last several months. I looked through photos for memory triggers, and chose a total of about 10 photos that demonstrated experiences across the KLAs to include in my document, including a couple of photos of my child’s written work. Luckily, my daughter had made charts of her sales at a craft market and also a character planning sheet from a writing workshop she had attended, and she didn’t mind including photos of these samples. 

I could have written a paragraph for each KLA, but since that is not how I ‘plan’ nor how I recognise my child’s learning, I opted instead to write a narrative of how our home educating life flows in line with my daughter’s natural learning style. 

Overall I spent about 10 hours preparing my document, spread over several weeks. I asked for feedback from a few people before submitting. I received acknowledgement of my submission promptly, and after a few weeks I received an email indicating there was no issues to further address. It was 8 weeks total from my submission that I finally received notification that my review was successful. I understand that the process has been streamlined and has greatly improved since those early days. 

I was not happy with the process of having to prove myself, but I did receive heaps of moral and logistical support along the way from HEN. And one benefit for me is that when people ask, I can say that, yes, my child’s education does indeed tick the boxes with the education department. “ 

“My daughter was reviewed by the VRQA when she was 12 years old. We chose the email method of submission, and I actually quite enjoyed the process; having to think about and formulate what we did together every day, and then view the finished product! 

I divided up my submission into categories of her subjects at the time, and wrote a small paragraph blurb for each one, detailing the curriculum name and what it involved. In each section I put a couple of photos (which took up a nice amount of space :)) of work samples, her journals, drawings etc., or made lists of books read or places visited etc. This is how I divided the sections; Maths, Second Language, English, Science, The Arts, Health and Physical Education, IT, History, Geography, Art/Design, Excursions, What’s up ahead, and a copy of her weekly timetable. 

Every person that I dealt with in the department was polite and encouraging. My initial email response had this quote, which has become a memorable quote in our home since then… that the Department of Education thinks I am fun! (I have to remind my children of this true fact on many occasions). 

‘I can clearly see that you have taken considerable effort to compile information and photographs. The details look very thorough and I must say the photographs look like {your daughter} has had a lot of fun! ‘.” 

In previous years, HEN has run Zoom support sessions, and in addition to seeing how reassured people were once they understood the process, it was fascinating to see how much some experienced home educators can doubt themselves. This was particularly true for those who follow a natural learning approach, or who keep minimal records. Some of them signed up for the session concerned that they would not have enough to satisfy a reviewer, but by the end of the Zoom call they realised they had ten times more content than required. They may have preferred not to be reviewed, but as the experiences above show, many families actually enjoy the chance to share the home education journey. 

This year the VRQA will select the review cohort in August, and notify the families directly. They hope to process the majority of reviews by the end of 2022. HEN will be running support sessions for those who have been selected.


Last updated on
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap