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.

NSW in Focus – How to Register for Home Education

Registering for home education in NSW is straight forward and easy. If you know how.

You will need to follow a few steps as listed below in order to successfully register for the maximum first registration period of 1 year. Upon re-registration in 12 months time, you can apply for a two year maximum registration period. NSW home educators register through NSW Education Standards Authority also known as NESA.

How to make the big bad government Authorised Person smile on your home visit. Only joking!

Step 1 – Alert the authorities that you are leaving the reservation

Go to the NESA homeschooling webpage and download Form 1 for initial registration. Fill one out for each child separately and then email them back signed. An AP (Authorised Person, usually a teacher) will then call you to make an appointment for the purposes of sighting your children and to read a written program for each child.…/home-schooling…

Step 2 – Write your plan

The program can be as simple as cutting and pasting the stage statements from each Key Learning Area (KLA), and then list any resources you intend to use to cover those skills sets in the stage statements.

I wouldn’t write any education philosophies down. Stay away from mentioning unschooling or natural learning and save yourself an unnecessary headache. Just list resources or activities that will tick what each stage statement will need.

You only need to register for primary or secondary school. You do not need to list a grade level. This gives you the freedom to alter the skills levels for each KLA to suit where your child is upto. If they are more advanced in Mathematics you may select the stage statement for stage 3 instead of stage 2. This is your opportunity to truly tailor your child’s education.
Click here for all the stage statements in a single document for Early Stage 1 to Stage 5. Stage 6 is separated due to the volume of subjects and different requirements in the Curriculum.…/stage…

If you are using work books, your list of resources under the stage statements for English and Maths KLAs may look something like this:

  • Mathematics stage 2 – Targeting Maths grade 3, Life of Fred, online multiplication games.
  • English – All About Spelling level 4 – 5, First Language Lessons, Writing with Ease, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings for literature, readers from the library, Audio books, speech at home school group.

If you are using a child led approach or unschooling, you will still need to write something down and that may look like this:

  • English – Public speaking at the home school meet-up, writing a journal, creating a recipe book, creating an ad for selling a bike on Gumtree, memorising poetry from a nursery rhyme book, writing some short stories, doing some copy work, keeping a word index book of words learnt with meanings, reading list appropriate for their interest and age.
  • Mathematics – focusing on using measuring equipment especially in cooking, online maths games, chalk and cement for practice problems, building with lego, sorting colours and quantities and following instructions, shopping adding up the purchases, planning a family trip with public transport, playing math based card games like Gin Rummy, playing board games like Ticket to Ride or Rummikub, singing along with the times table song disc.

It really isn’t very hard. Do the simplest paperwork such as listing of resources above is all you need to write. Be polite to the Authorised Person and then get the government out your front door. What you do in your home is your business. The longest registration period you will get for the initial registration is 12 months. Some home educators have really great APs and they are a welcome resource during home visits, but some have reported APs who expect school at home setups and can be highly rigid in interpreting their jobs. Do let Ed Consult know if you have had an experience such as this at

Step 3 Get re-registered for your next home education adventure together

In 12 month’s time you print off the second form on the above mentioned NESA webpage and then have some work samples for each KLA, a photo album, diary entries or some form of record keeping of their learning and the new plan for the next two years. You are not required to compare your registered plan with what work was actually reported on. The AP is simply noting that you have a plan that is consistent with the NSW Curriculum. If you do nothing that you planned to do, that doesn’t matter at all. Just report what was done. Not hard really.

What if I don’t register?

Under the Education Act (see my other blog on this topic) in NSW you are required to register with NESA to home educate. If you are not registered, the only thing that will happen is that you will be asked to register with NESA. If you persist to fail to comply with the above steps, then the end worst case scenario is that you could be charged with “educational neglect”. This is very very rare and reserved for those who repeatedly refuse to register under the act.

If you are reported, simply register your children. Children who have never attended any schools are not on any lists. Children who unenroll from a school will be on the list of the school or a home school liaison officer and you can expect a phone call enquiring why your children are skipping school without a note.

Just say what the government wants to hear.

  • Yes we use the NSW Curriculum
  • Yes we keep records of the learning
  • Yes I considered my child’s learning needs and interests
  • Yes we have resources and space available to facilitate the learning of my child.

Job done.

Ed Consult. Supporting Home Educators Across Australia.

Is Home Education Legal In Australia?

Yes. Home Education is legal to practice in Australia.

There is provision in the Education Act of each state and territory in Australia for parents or guardians of children between the ages 5-6 to a registration period including over 17 years of age.

Photo by CQF-Avocat on

Here is a list of all the legislation and regulations that determine your rights as a home educator.

Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

New South Wales (NSW)

Queensland (QLD)

Victoria (VIC)

  • Education Act 2006
  • Home schooling – as form of compulsory attendance at school 2.1.1 – disclosure of information regarding 4.9.4 – information for school attendance officers 5.8.5 – protection of details of students registered for 4.9.1- registration of students for 4.3.9 – review of decisions regarding 4.8.1

Tasmania (TAS)

South Australia (SA)

Western Australia (WA)

Northern Territory (NT)

There is an academic resource by Glenda Jackson and Sonia Allan, published 2010 which discusses issues of registration and legislation in Australia on home education.

Ed Consult. Supporting Home Educators Across Australia.

Step 1. Home Education Across the Australian Curriculum

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But what do I teach my child? How will I know? Is there a road map or GPS? Relax, there is quite a lot of information provided by each registration jurisdiction across Australia to help you get started with the paper work and road map.

Start with the Australian Curriculum

In all states and territories across Australia, there are links to the State or Territory version of the Australian Curriculum on the state or territory home education pages. When registering you generally refer to your state or territories’ version of the Australian Curriculum however in Tasmania for example you only need to develop a plan that includes subject areas and how you will cover those areas. Go to the registration body in each area to find out more:

Click through the links to find the link of each curriculum and learn the broad areas you are required to have in your Individual Learning Plan (ILP) for each child. This ILP may be over different stages and not all within a single “grade” level. The joy of home education is that the learning plan can adjust to where your child is, rather than what grade their age may place them if in a school.

In general, focus on reading, writing and arithmetic for the primary education years, and then in secondary levels with elective subjects to focus on their interests and special skills to help them develop those skills further. English is a focus for the whole of the child’s education, with maths, geography/history, and science as the core subjects. The other subject areas are at the child and educators’ discretion within the rules for choosing elective subjects of your education region.

For the more stringent home ed registration states in Australia, generally, a cut and paste of each Key Learning Area (KLA) stage statements into a word document with a list of resources or strategies you intend to use for the next registration period, will suffice for the learning plan prior to the home visit in the states and territories where they have them.

In South Australia, when applying for home education, it isn’t called registration due to differences in the Education Act. In SA you need to apply for exemption from school after you register your child at your local school as a student. This process is managed by the principal of the school.

If you have not registered for home education, and somehow the Government becomes aware of this, they will simply contact you and ask you to register or apply for exemption. There are no direct penalties for not registering your child for home education across Australia. If you persist with not registering your child for home education against the directions of the registering body, then the most drastic scenario is that you could be charged with educational neglect. However, this is very rare in Australia with regards to home education.

There is no registration body, that will try to match the ILP with the parent written report upon re-registration the next time. Life happens and learning needs change. The learning that occurred may resemble in a very limited way the learning plan you were initially registered under. Just keep some basic records as you go across the curriculum areas of your child’s educational experiences and the re-registration process will be successful. 

Ed Consult. Supporting Home Educators Across Australia.