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Reflecting on Home Education in QLD

2021 HEAQ Pilot Survey re the HEU - Summary of Results

By Leah Moir, edited by Samantha Bryan

In 2021 HEAQ conducted an anonymous survey of current and previously Registered Home Educators in QLD.

The purpose of the anonymous survey was to ascertain

  1. How well the HEU meets the expectations of them based on their employment criteria, the Education Act and various government guidelines for the Public Service regarding consultation and parent engagement,

  2. How well the Qld government has implemented the recommendations of the last review into home education and

  3. Parent opinions on report processing times and other issues.

The survey consisted of 15 questions requiring a response on a Likert scale from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). There were also 3 questions allowing for written responses. 55 people completed the pilot survey.

Thematic Analysis

A thematic analysis of the data identified 4 key themes. Summaries of each of the themes are below.

Support: Professional empathy is reportedly not exhibited by HEU policies, procedures, and staff. The respondents report that the relationship between home educators and the HEU is mostly not positive and requires substantial improvement.

Reporting: Respondents suggest that the HEU reporting requirements are suited to institutional education policies and are less compatible with home education philosophies. They suggest that, in line with home education practices, reporting requirements be more flexible and demonstrative of the students’ progress, and feedback be received in a more timely manner. The most common suggestion for an appropriate timeframe was four weeks.

Procedure: Respondents report that the HEU is inconsistent in their dealings with home educating families. While some respondents expressed appreciation for HEU staff efforts, there is a general view expressed in the survey results that there is not enough staff to achieve results in a timely manner (to enquiries, reporting, or approval of registration), and that administrative processes need to be streamlined.

Communication: Respondents indicated that communication with HEU has deteriorated. They report that any response after submitting reports is 'extremely slow'. Additionally, while some respondents felt that HEU staff are friendly on the phone and via email, others felt that they were treated as a ‘substandard intellectual'. Another respondent felt that the ability to communicate with the HEU was limited due to the move to voice mail and waiting for call-backs. Additionally, respondents reported that they were told that all staff are capable of adequately assisting callers. However, their experience contradicts this.

Key Findings from Quantitative Data

  • 53% of the respondents feel that the HEU does not demonstrate an understanding of home education.

  • 62% of respondents felt that the HEU does not establish productive relationships with home educators.

  • 68% have not seen any evidence that the HEU consults with home educating parents, home education organisations or other external to government organisations.

  • 45% agree that they are able to demonstrate a high quality education for their child using HEU reporting methods, while 37% disagree. 16% remain neutral.

  • Nearly ¾ of respondents experience no collaborative efforts from the HEU.

  • Nearly ¾ of respondents (73%) agree that there is a need for a Home Education Advisory Committee.

  • Over ¾ of respondents would support an independent review into home education in QLD.

  • Respondents’ experiences of HEU staff’s demonstration of respect and care is more evenly spread. 41% disagree with this statement, while 35% agree. 22% are neutral.

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