Sunday, 15 September 2013

Last Friday the Office of the Board of Studies (OBoS), provided the HEA with the NEW ‘Registration for Home Schooling in NSW - Information Package’. This was conditional to the HEA agreeing the document would remain internal to the HEA committee (i.e. committee members only), prior to its publication. OBoS indicated that while they were open to meeting regarding any issues arising from the new information package, it was at a stage where it could not be amended prior to its publication. They briefed HEA on a number of changes and committed to meet with HEA & other Homeschooling Community Representatives (e.g. SHEN & Muslim Home Education Network) on a six monthly basis. An additional meeting was agreed to at a date to be determined, immediately following the release of the new information package.

On receipt of the new information package, the HEA compared both old and new information package documents. Some of the changes were as disclosed by OBoS in their recent meeting with the HEA. A number of changes were not disclosed. The differences are summarised below.

Expected Changes as per meeting with OBoS.

The document reflects the implementation of the NSW Syllabuses starting in 2014 which is based on the new national syllabus.

  • Home educators are to refer to Syllabus Outcomes explicitly when providing proposed learning plans to APs
    • Home schooling families can now access Program Builder via Scootle (optional)
    • Clarified that registration is specific to the home address (made more explicit - this was in the 2011 pack)
    • Clarified expectation that the child to be registered is expected to be present at the AP visit.
    • The option for renewal by documentation has been curtailed and an AP needs to visit at least every 2nd year.

Undisclosed changes

  • Minor wording changes that consistently refer to "meeting the requirements of registration (Part 2)"
  • Minor wording changes altering the AP visits from "discussing application" to "assessing written evidence"
  • Removal of “acknowledge of a spectrum of home schooling approaches” and any reference to natural learning in the home. The amended pack states:- "regardless of the approach to learning/teaching or the educational philosophy, the requirements for registration must be met at all times in the registration period" - a subtle, but important difference.
  • Removal of the reference to children working above or below their age peers at schools if they have special needs. This is amended to a new requirement that says if you are working above approved year level with a child, then you need to contact OBoS who will send out an AP and adjust the Year Level on the certificate if they approve. This wording will impact the flexibility of a lot of families.
  • Removal of the "curriculum guidelines" from Part 4 of the pack and instead refer to the syllabus links and the stage statements - parents will now have to go out and look these up.
  • Removal of "how is my privacy maintained" FAQ, which in practice probably doesn't mean any changes, but will be concerning to some families.
  • SHEN and the Muslim Home Education Network have been removed as contacts. Only HEA is listed.

The publication has seen numerous amendments and overall there is an increased emphasis on documentation and its compliance with the new syllabus.

HEA representatives will be meeting with OBoS as early as next week to provide feedback on the new pack, raise concerns, clearly articulate the impact of amendments to homeschoolers and to establish what the application of the new package means in practice/application at ‘ground level’ for homeschoolers.

The HEA has been working hard behind the scenes and will continue to do so. What we NEED NOW is for you to have your say. Please provide us with feedback on the new information pack and your perception of its impact in home educating your child/children. Your concerns, questions and feedback will be collated and taken to the next meeting with OBoS. Please be sure to email through to the HEA no later than 5pm Tuesday 3rd September   to collate feedback in readiness for the meeting with OBoS. It would be appreciated if your emails could be kept to a maximum of 300 words.

The link for the Registration for Home Schooling in NSW - Information Package’ can be found here:

http://www.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/parents/home-schooling.html