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August 31, 2013

Home Visits Imposed on Homeschoolers Down Under

The New South Wales Board of Studies in Australia issued new regulations for homeschoolers that include unannounced home visits, requesting permission to homeschool, and detailed curriculum and evaluation requirements. The Board of Studies (BoS), the department that oversees education in the state of New South Wales (NSW), implemented the new “Information Package on Registration for Homeschooling” on August 26th without any consultation with homeschoolers.

“The new homeschooling regulations are nothing short of a dictatorship,” one Australian mother told HSLDA. “The homeschool community was told that we had to accept the package and that it has already been signed off by the Education Minister. End of story. The homeschooling community is in an uproar.”

The Sydney Home Education Network (SHEN) has stated on its website that the new policy could make it very difficult for many families to continue homeschooling, due to the substantial changes in the registration packet, such as:

  • Board of Studies representatives may conduct home visits at their discretion to check that there is ongoing compliance with requirements;
  • Children have to be taught on the grade level approved by the BoS. Re-registration must occur to get “permission” to teach any materials other than that of peers in the school system;
  • Evidence must be provided to demonstrate a “capacity to comply with the requirements for registration,” including a written plan for the proposed educational program; a proposed system for planning, supervising, and assessing; the availability of resources; and the suitability of the home learning environment for “effective homeschooling”
  • All applications to register or re-register to homeschool may take up to three months, which could have adverse effects if a child has to remain in a bad situation in school until given permission to homeschool; and
  • Although there seems to be a choice whether one can conscientiously object to registering on religious grounds, the grounds for objection are extremely narrow and a family must satisfy all of the requirements for registration as part of the objection process.

SHEN informed its members of a petition started by a homeschool mother in Sydney, which calls upon Adrian Piccoli, the Minister of Education, to “cancel the new information pack and consult with home educators.”

According to an email circulated among Australian homeschoolers, the petition gathered over 500 signatures in the first 24 hours. Australian families have asked homeschoolers and friends of freedom around the world for help. To support families in Australia, please sign the petition. Please also send an email to the Minister of Education in New South Wales, the Honorable Adrian Piccoli, encouraging him to listen to home educators and pull the new regulations and support less restrictions for homeschoolers.

Mike Donnelly, HSLDA’s director of international relations, notes the similarity between the new NSW policy and attempts to change the homeschool climate in other countries.

“It is alarming that this new policy was created and implemented entirely in the bureaucratic echelons of the Ministry of Education, without any input from homeschooling families,” said Donnelly. “It is becoming increasingly apparent that officials around the world—whether in Australia, Sweden, the United States or Germany—are seeking to shift the balance between the role of the state and the role of the parents in the education of children. Please support homeschooling and parental rights by emailing the Minister of Education, signing this petition, and keeping home educators in the land down under in your thoughts and prayers.”

 Other Resources

Learn more by visiting HSLDA’s Australia page