By Sue Wight
The Draft Education Regulations
Home educators have good reason for concern.
In brief the changes proposed are:
- All new home educators to submit a plan for approval.
- Children to remain in school until/unless approval has been given.
- All home educators to be reviewed on a ‘random sample’ basis against their plans – effectively this means existing home educators must develop a plan also.
What’s wrong with that?
To the public, plans and reviews might look reasonable. The problem is that assessment of both would be done by VRQA staff who have no experience of home education, no knowledge of how it works, no empathy with it and, most concerningly, a habit of attempting to bully parents back into school, and giving out blatant misinformation about home education, namely “home educated kids are all unemployed and can’t get into university.”
The VRQA blithely continue to distribute this misinformation despite the countless numbers of home educated alumni who have both degrees and employment!
This is the calibre of assessor that can be expected and that the Department is happy to countenance. The Department has been made aware of this issue and not bothered to respond. DET wants to reward this bullying behaviour with more power.
Further problems with the proposed regulations:
- Natural justice dictates that parents have a right to remove children from an unsafe environment. The requirement to leave children in school until plans are approved WILL confine children to environments where they are being bullied or abused unless a bureaucrat says they can leave.
- For families who decide on home education as a last resort (around 25%), the stress level is enormous. Expecting such families to calmly construct an education plan for an entire year while coping with the daily stress involved in sending their child into an unsafe environment is not only unreasonable, it makes a mockery of the government’s commitment to child safety.
- For around 60%, home education is a refuge after a less than ideal school experience. Instead of admitting that the school system has failed and letting parents get on with the task of educating their children, the department wants parents to be answerable to bureaucrats from the same failed system. Essentially the government’s response to schools failing is to lock the gates.
- There is no evidence that submitting plans or conducting reviews will improve the outcomes of home education.
- There is no evidence that the outcomes of home education need improving! As opposed to the school system where standards continue to fall (as evidenced by recent PISA, TIMS and NAPLAN results).
- If, as the RIS alleges, some parents lack the capacity to home educate, why not make Distance Ed available to them?
- Much of the detail on plans and reviews has been deferred to guidelines. This then becomes a policy matter and the Department can change the requirements at will. And make no mistake, they will do so regularly.
To cap it all off, there is no evidence whatsoever that home education requires increased regulation and the government has undertaken no research to inform the regulation they propose.
The only problem identified is that DET don’t have enough data, and yet they have not bothered to institute a research project to gather such data. Instead, they’ll just increase regulation blindly. When it doesn’t give them the data they want, they’ll just increase regulation again.
What should you do?
- Read the Draft carefully.
- Think abut the implications for yourself, other home educators and prospective home educators.
- You should make a submission but there is no rush. You have until the end of February to submit your own personal response to it. Make it a considered one. Your submission should detail the impact the Regulations would have on you and your family Also include concerns you have on behalf of others e.g. prospective home educators.
- Circulate information to other home educators
- Make an appointment with your MLA and MLCs. Their office may already have closed for Christmas, if so they may not be back until mid January. It is worth phoning today to check.
In January we recommend you:
- Write Letters to the Editor of local and state newspapers
- Volunteer to help HEN whether by being interviewed in the media, research, proof-reading, admin tasks.
- Organise local get-togethers to assist each other to write letters and submissions.
- Join HEN.
- Circulate our Alumni Survey as it could provide valuable evidence to resist change.
- If the VRQA has ever tried to discourage from registering or suggest that home education was a bad idea, contact Sue.
HEN will hold a special general meeting about the Draft Regulations. This will be a member-only event. We just need to tee up a venue and we’ll be in touch with details.
HEN members will also be supplied with a marked-up copy of the Draft Regulations and RIS to assist them in preparing submissions and initiating discussions with their representatives.