Victoria in Focus – $ Vouchers for Home Educators?

Democratic Labour Party MP Rachel Carling-Jenkins urged the Andrews government back in 2015 to provide taxpayer-funded vouchers to help the growing number of homeschooling families pay for stationery, curriculum resources, computers and internet access.

Democratic Labour Party MP Rachel Carling-Jenkins urged the Andrews government back in 2015 to provide taxpayer-funded vouchers to help the growing number of homeschooling families pay for stationery, curriculum resources, computers and internet access.

Click on the link below to read the article in The Age newspaper.

https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/homeschool-parents-deserve-state-vouchers-to-teach-kids-says-key-crossbencher-20150424-1msm3z.html

It really takes experienced politicians who have home educated their own children to stand up and speak on behalf of home educators and their needs. Ms Carling-Jenkins knows personally how much it costs to choose to educate children at home.

“Opponents of homeschooling cite concerns about the standard of education children receive without a qualified teacher; the lack of socialisation some children might face; and the potential for religious extremism to be imposed. Proponents say it gives children the chance to excel by catering to their individual needs, particularly if a child has a learning disability or is being bullied at school.” The Age Farrah Tomazin

Ed Consult encourages home educators across Australia to write to any politician who talks about support for home educators. However, Ed Consult would never garner votes for any individual politician on that basis alone because their other political agendas may become divisive in our large and wonderfully diverse community.

Unfortunately, in the recent past a home educator linked a national association to the suggestion that home educators should vote in the Federal elections 2019 for a particular small party Candidate because of their support for a section of the home education community in the NSW parliamentary enquiry into home education in NSW in 2017. This candidate failed to secure a seat. This voting direction caused pain and concern within our LGBTQI Community and the larger home education community as well.

Lobbying for an issue or support for home education is quite OK and open to anyone to do. This is distinct from lobbying for a candidate’s election who is supportive of only a section of the home education community. Linking a diverse home educating community with a socially and politically divisive individual candidate in any parliament has had the effect of dividing and destabilising the home education community in Australia.

Dr Carling-Jenkins said she would continue to lobby Premier Daniel Andrews to give parents “a fair go”.

A voucher suggestion is a wonderful start.

Ed Consult. Supporting Home Educators Across Australia.

NSW in Focus – TAFE Update

The NSW Minister for Skills, John Barilaro, announced in 2017 that home educated students 15 years and over registered with NESA as secondary students could enrol in Smart and Skilled funded courses at TAFE and private RTOs in NSW. This greatly reduces the fees to access these courses and ensures that this remains a viable pathway to work or further education.

Click here for the eligible courses for Smart and Skilled funded placements.

The simple eligible student criteria includes:

  • aged 15 years or older
  • live in New South Wales
  • an Australian citizen, permanent resident, humanitarian visa holder or New Zealand citizen

There is a specific fact sheet for home educated kids interested in a TAFE course or Registered Training Organisation (RTO) here.

The fees that students pay vary widely depending on a variety of circumstances. Students with a disability do not have to pay any fees. Students in low income households (in receipt of the full Family Tax benefit A or youth allowance), or who are Aboriginal, have low fees. If students do not fit into these categories their fees will be more – up to several thousand dollars depending on the course. TAFE has a fee calculator on their website that you can use to help determine what the fees will likely be.  

It is no longer a requirement for registered home educated students to have a year 10 certificate for admission to Smart and Skilled funded NSW TAFE courses. If you are asked by TAFE or the private RTO for a year 10 certificate, explain that the student is registered for home education and meets the requirements for eligibility for a Smart and Skilled funded course. 

There have been some stories in 2018-2019 where home educated kids were being rejected as not eligible for Smart and Skilled funded placements. This was usually down to poorly trained staff and the best ways to deal with a difficult gatekeeper is to ask:

  • Firstly, hand the TAFE admin the Smart and Skilled PDF.
  • If that doesn’t work, ask to speak to the supervisor.
  • If that doesn’t work, contact Smart and Skilled directly on this link and tell them the branch of TAFE or the RTO you are dealing with and get the answers your child deserves.

If you have experienced discriminatory practices in your state or territory with regards to higher education access, please email at contact@edconsult.com.au or leave a comment below this blog or the YouTube video. 

Ed Consult. Supporting Home Educators Across Australia.

NSW in Focus – How many home ed students are there? 5,429 in NSW.

New South Wales

The latest numbers of students registered for home education are from a report March 2019 from NESA (NSW Education Standards Authority). From 2014 with 3298 to 2018 with 5429 home educating students. The number of unregistered students is unknown but anecdotal evidence suggests it could be a similar figure.

“New South Wales has experienced a 24% growth between 2014-2016, following a dip after the introduction of new regulations in 2014. At the time, there were 3,327 students registered for homeschooling with the NSW Board of Studies [now NESA], which has now grown to 4,100 respectively.

Victoria and NSW account for 54% of homeschool registrations nationwide.” – The rise of home education in Australia February 2019.

Home Schooling Data reports relating to 2018 – March 2019

This graph is interesting as it shows the percentage of home educators who are being given shorter registration periods. Using 5,429 as the 2018 figure, the students registering for the first time who got the full 12 months initial registration was 78% with renewal of registration receiving the maximum time period of 24 months was up at 87%.

It would be interesting to see what plans or reporting is being rejected or given shorter registration periods by NESA so that we can all learn what not to do when registering.

How many schools would it take to educate 5,429 students in NSW?

Not home education.

Approximately 105 Primary School classes just like the one above, and 90.5 high school classrooms to accommodate all the home educated students with a 50/50 spread of primary to high school students. This is just a representation of what that many students may actually look like with the average primary school class of 26 students and high school class of 30 students. Financially, at an average of $16,000 per student for tuition (not accounting for additional learning support funding or infrastructure funding) would cost the Federal Government approximately $86,864,000 if all home educated students were to enrol next week.

If we were to acknowledge the 1/4 of all registration applications in NSW that choose to state that they home educate with a child with special needs, including levels 1-6 of $6,400 to over $60,000 per student per year, this could equate to a total funding for all home educated students to over $115,000,000 per year.

Just as soon as the latest numbers from NESA on registration for home educated students are available they will be shared with you here. Don’t forget to subscribe.

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.

https://educationstandards.nsw.edu.au/…/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.
https://educationstandards.nsw.edu.au/…/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 contact@edconsult.com.au

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.

Video – Federal Government Funding Policies 2020

Video

Any support that home educators can take advantage of is a help. As home educators, you cannot ask to partake in funding initiatives if you don’t know about them.

Read a series of blog posts below exploring possible funding policies that may be utilised by home educators across Australia if you ask.

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 contact@edconsult.com.au to explore your options together.

Ed Consult. Supporting Home Educators Across Australia.

HEN – Home Education Survey Across Australia

The latest survey run by Susan Wight of the Home Education Network also known as HEN, a national association for the promotion and support of home education in Australia.

This year’s survey saw the highest participation rates from outside of Victoria with a total of 592 respondents from every state and territory across Australia. It is an anonymous survey as no identifying information was collected. Click here to see the results yourself.

Some of the questions covered included:

  • categorising their reason for home educating. 45% stating it was a matter of philosophy and 55% as a response to school experiences.
  • The section of the survey for rating the main factor for home educating initially was for “a tailored education” 
  • whereas the main factor for continuing to home educate was “happier kids” with 223 respondents.

When looking at the different styles of education being provided at home, “Unschooling” is most popular in Victoria and Queensland, and “Project-based learning” is most popular in NSW and Queensland.

The socio-economic status of respondents showed a fairly even spread through low to high household financial status.

The occupation of respondents with the most frequency of 8% was “teacher”.

The registration status of the respondents was around 92% nationally however Queensland had the fewest registered home educators of 74% of respondents. 

More survey participants are needed to give a broader view of the actual registration status of home educators in Australia, registered and unregistered. As Susan Wight from HEN said “If we could hit 10% across the country, that would really help home educators in each state make solid arguments when advocating. Without our own stats, the government owns the narrative.”

So stay tuned for the next call for nationwide participation in this important voluntary project to support home education in Australia by the Home Education Network. Subscribe to my blog Ed Consult and this youtube channel to keep informed by clicking on the subscribe button or clicking on the links in the information below this video.

Consider joining the Home Education Network to further support the research and support projects for home educators across Australia. HEN costs only $25 per year for membership with a magazine and tonnes of online support. Click here for more information.

Find out why people home educate, and much more. Jan 2020

Ed Consult. Supporting Home Educators Across Australia.

Federal Government Funding Initiatives 2020 Blog Series #5

This is the fifth blog on Federal Government Funding Initiatives for 2020.

Here are the next excerpts from the Australian Government Department for Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development for 2020.

Online Teaching and Learning Courses—support mathematics and phonics

The Australian Government will provide $9.5 million over four years from 2019-20 to strengthen the capacity of teachers across Australia to teach mathematics and phonics through freely available, nationally coordinated, high quality professional learning and resources. This initiative will deliver:

  • Mathematics Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) for teachers of Foundation to Year 10 students, provide supporting face-to-face professional learning and a repository of teaching and learning resources through an online Mathematics Hub. It aims to inspire Australian school students to learn mathematics and equip them to become our future mathematical and technological innovators.
  • Online learning and teaching resources to support phonics education for the early years of school. This initiative will provide teachers with ready access to teaching and formative assessment resources to ensure the students who need the most support to learn to read get the help they need.

The online courses and resources will be freely available to all Australian teachers and students, with resources being readily accessible to those living in rural and remote locations, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The mathematics and phonics online resources are designed to support teachers and provide professional learning opportunities.

Ed Consult has written to the Federal Minister for Education Hon Dan Tehan, to enquire where these resources can be found and if home educators are able to utilise these opportunities too. Stay tuned to find out more when a reply is received. This may take many months though.

See a list of other blogs in this series as they are published:

Follow this blog to find out about other initiatives that are being rolled out by the Federal Government in 2020. Perhaps it is time to start asking for a piece of the pie?

Ed Consult. Supporting Home Educators Across Australia.

Ed Consult Youtube Channel is Here!

Video

The Ed Consult Youtube channel will be another avenue of support for home educators across Australia. The videos will link to blogs at edconsult.com.au and provide information for people who prefer video to text to learn more about home education in Australia.

This first video is explaining what Ed Consult is all about. We encourage anyone who has a question or issue they would like explained or explored to email at contact@edconsult.com.au

Ed Consult. Supporting Home Educators Across Australia.

Feeling Overwhelmed? How to get your head straight as a home educator.

What if phonics is the way to go? This program says it is easy to teach but it is so expensive. But I am sure I don’t know what I am talking about. What if my 6 year old won’t be able to write an essay? What is unschooling anyway?  The dishes are not done, and the washing is getting smelly. The garden is overgrown. “Garden? I have a garden?”. 

Feeling overwhelmed about your choice to home educate your child? Let’s break that anxiety down and help put your issues back into perspective.

Here are a list of common issues that home educators in Australia face. Each area will be featured in future blogs and videos by Ed Consult:

  • Not knowing much about what a curriculum is, let alone how to implement the learning.
  • Confusion as to whether you need to follow a set of lesson plans at all
  • How will my child go to university without sitting the year 12 exams of all the other 17-18 years old around Australia?
  • How will my child socialise without school?
  • How can I teach my child if I have no experience as a teacher in a school?
  • My therapist for my child’s condition is questioning if I can provide a full educational experience.
  • Commentary from family or friends that you will ruin your child’s future by not including your child in an institutional school setting.

Be in the moment.

Too often as home educators and parents we exist in the future, planning and pressuring ourselves for the next contact with the state or territory education department or the future university graduation day with honours of our child, when they are just 6 years old. Bring your mind to the immediate present and stop drowning yourself in unnecessary future uncertainty. 

Bringing your attention to the moment everyday, even for just a minute can have profound changes on your concentration, resilience and stress levels. Put the baby in the bouncy, lock the dog in the other room, sit and close your eyes for one minute. 

Priorities, priorities.

Keep in mind you are not on display. You are in your home without an audience. You are in charge of your day, your child and a home education is a marathon with lots of rest breaks; not a sprint race.

Your priority is to help your child to be healthy, happy, life long learners, entering the world as creative problem solvers. Solving problems is the key to a happy life. How you get to that point requires many, many years. It is a skill that comes through experience and not a completed paid curriculum. 

Choose something, from somewhere and start. It doesn’t matter if the schedule you wrote with all the hopes of a new home educator, lay ignored on the floor. It doesn’t matter if the curriculum your bought is not being used (well it is an annoying waste of money, but you can always resell it). You have had your thinking time. What matters now is just choosing something to do and then doing it.

This learning activity may be a quick grammar lesson, a read aloud book, an art project, a movie session, a maths problem or a cuddle on the couch with a discussion on butterflies. Stop and be in the moment and your kids will begin to respond and peace will have a chance to descend upon your home. You will feel calmer, and more capable of thinking through where your child will go and how they are going to get there.

Start with the Australian Curriculum

If you want to have an idea of what is being taught in schools to help you frame the education that your child would have received in school, simply go to the Australian Curriculum and select the year level your child would have been assigned and read it. Go to this blog post to learn more about where to find the curriculum for your region.

In general, focus on reading, writing and arithmetic for the primary education years, and then in secondary levels focus on their interests and special skills to help them develop those skills. 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 of your education region.

“Relax. Getting organised with homeschooling is not as important as you think it is. Relaxing, on the other hand, is more important than you know.”

Beverley Paine –

What about access to tertiary education for home educated kids?

Projecting forward to tertiary education while the child is 6 years old is a real concern for home educators and friends or family members who are not so sure about your choice to home educate. There will be extensive information supplied on this blog and through videos and extra page resources to put this concern to bed once and for all. Home educated kids have just as much access to tertiary education as a schooled child has. Subscribe to this blog to be fully informed.

What about socialisation?

Again do not concern yourself about socialisation. It is a myth that the only way to truly socialise a child is by placing them in a school 8.30 to 3.30, 5 days a week organised horizontally by age, religion, socio-economic status, or sex for 7-13 years with the same kids is the only way to successfully socialise a child. Home educated kids socialise in a vertical way with all ages, and with a broad spectrum of community members and of course their families in a far deeper and enduring way than their horizontally socialised cousins. Sign up to this blog to learn more about vertical socialisation.

Do I need to be a teacher to home educate in Australia?

You do not need to be a qualified teacher to home educate in Australia. The majority of subjects taught to budding teachers involve classroom management, cultural diversity, and education policy. What is useful is learning theory, and learning practices, which all home educators will observe over time and become proficient in developing for their own children. There is no point in wasting $20,000 on a degree for teaching our own children, however interestingly, there are many teachers who also home educate as shown in the survey by HEN in 2019. Click here for more information.

Managing doubt with family and professionals.

It can be really disheartening when you hear negative opinions from people you trust; you will be ruining your child’s future if you don’t send them to an institutional school, or that you are failing them in the management of their medical therapies if they are not left in the classroom settings.

These “well meaning” comments only come from ignorance, as those people only know the school route. They simply have no experience of just how valuable growing up as a home educated child can be. There has been fantastic research started by Susan Wight of the Home Education Network (HEN) called the Home Educated Alumni Project which follows the journeys of home educated kids into adulthood, tertiary study and professional careers in Australia. Again these topics will be discussed in future blog posts and videos, so do subscribe.

However ineffective you feel you are for your child’s education right now, it is worth a reminder that the 1 to 1 engagement that you can provide everyday is 20 to 30 times more than your child can reasonably expect to receive at school in the classroom. A little bit of attention goes a really long way. Now relax.

Ed Consult. Supporting Home Educators Across Australia.