Clarity for Stages 4-5 HSIE Subject choices in NSW with NESA

HSIE has been an area of confusion for home educators in NSW when writing learning plans for their students in years 7-10 in the History Society and Its Environment subject area.

Home educated students enjoy the most freedom of choice when choosing what they will study, when compared to their schooled peers who are required to study History and Geography for all of stages 4-5.

NESA has acknowledged that their Guidelines for Homeschooling document is misleading, suggesting that it must be History or Geography however they are in the process of updating this document to express the true requirements rather than simply what state schools generally do.

Home Educated students must choose to study at least one of the following subjects during stages 4-5 but can change what that subject is throughout the period of study:


Aboriginal Studies 7–10 Go to syllabus

Commerce 7–10 Go to syllabus

Geography K–10 Go to syllabus

Geography Elective 7–10 Go to syllabus

History K–10 Go to syllabus

History Elective 7–10 Go to syllabus

Work Education 7–10 Go to syllabus

A student may study History and Geography as an integrated subject. It is rather difficult to teach History without Geography given the events all happened in a place somewhere.

The nice thing to remember is that as a home educated student, you can choose to study Commerce for four years rather than History or Geography and can exercise more choice in their study plans than their schooled peers. Yet another reason to choose to home educate.

Ed Consult. Supporting Home Educators Across Australia.

Difference Between Home Education and Distance Education

In home education groups online, there is often confusion over what the difference between Distance Education and Home Education entails.

Distant Education is still school, but done in the home environment. A school is still responsible for delivering the subjects covered with the students sometimes expected to be online at certain periods of the day or on the phone to the teachers at specific times. The parent acts like a teacher’s aide responsible for the supervision of the educational materials emailed to the students or delivered on an online learning platform.

For this kind of education, you generally need to be home 5 days a week (or at least within internet access) during school hours of the distance education provider, so if you are interstate, you will need to keep the time change in mind.

The benefit of distance education is that the parent is absolved of developing any learning plans and registering those plans and work samples with the state education departments.

The downside to distance education is that you lose the right to choose how you spend your days. Without the freedom to go to home education meet ups, valuable social opportunities are lost. The learning opportunities provided are also still a one size fits all with minimal modifications for the individual learning needs of the student.

Distance Education really can work well for some kids, but not so great for others. It is a real choice, however in order to gain access to the state run distance education as a public student, you would need to have a medical reason or a geographical reason for not attending the local public school near you. The only other way to access distance education is through registered private providers that can be interstate and expensive. But if that is a good option for you then explore it. There will be further blogs in the future on some funding that is provided to eligible distance education students so subscribe to Ed Consult blog to learn more.

Home education on the other hand is all delivered, and developed by the parent or guardian of the student and the requirement is for that home educator to register for home education or in South Australia’s case, to apply for an exemption from schooling after enrolling in their local state school. 

The benefits of home education over enrolling in a distance education provider is that your days are you own to do with as you please. You can also tailor a personal learning plan for your child rather than a one size fits all.

Home education is a particularly good option if you are travelling with kids. You can tailor the learning to be relevant with where you are on your journey to really help make the learning stick.

The number of family trips around Australia that I have heard being ruined by the need to be near a good internet signal to connect with their teacher, is rather high. Home education is definitely the way to go for that year long family journey around Australia. If you would like any support in developing your registration plan for your big family holiday, don’t hesitate to email to explore your options together.

Ed Consult. Supporting Home Educators Across Australia.