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New Zealand
New Zealand

November 25, 2002

Homeschooling in New Zealand

Homeschooling in New Zealand has been prospering for many years. The legal atmosphere is fairly positive. A parent applies for a homeschool exemption by completing a ten-question form for the purpose of helping the Ministry of Education determine whether the child is being educated according to the law. The compulsory attendance age law states that the child "will be taught at least as regularly and as well as in a registered school." The words "regularly" and "well" are not legally defined. The practice and application of these terms are inconsistent and vague, opening the law to a future challenges.

Thankfully, there is no requirement for the homeschoolers to follow the National Curriculum Guidelines. If a homeschooler can demonstrate that they have a plan for educating, they will be granted an exemption.

The Ministry of Education has appreciated the success of homeschoolers. Since 1991, the Ministry pays parents 763 dollars (NZ) per year for the first child being homeschooled and decreases the amounts for subsequent children. Presently, the only string attached is that the parents must sign a statutory declaration every six months which simply states, "I, the parent, solemnly declare I am still homeschooling my children as regularly and as well as in a registered school." The money received by the homeschoolers is not taxed. A separate Education Review Office (QUANGO) may seek to visit the home and review the homeschool program. The Education Review Office reviews about 12% of homeschoolers in any one year. Unfortunately, most of these reviews are conducted in the home, even though the law does not technically require this. The New Zealand Home Education Foundation tries to dissuade families from allowing the review to be done in their home so that it will not set bad precedent. Overall, the Education Review Office has a fair perspective of homeschool families and has not unnecessarily harassed them.

Homeschoolers comprise approximately 1% of the total school age population. At least 50% or more of the homeschoolers do contact local or national support groups. We urge all homeschoolers to participate and join the New Zealand Home Education Foundation.