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 – 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.

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.

Federal Government Funding Initiatives 2020 Blog Series #2

This is the second blog on Federal Government Funding Initiatives. See here for a list of other blogs in this series as they are published:

Any support for home educators in Australia is useful. Over a few posts Ed Consult will list a series of Federal Government policy changes that may be of use to home educators if we ask. It is also worth noting what is denied to the home educated student compared to their schooled peers.

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

Increase HELP loan limit for Aviation Courses

“The Australian Government will amend the Higher Education Support Act 2003 to increase the combined Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) loan limit to $150,000 (indexed by CPI) for eligible students undertaking aviation courses at a VET Student Loans approved provider from 1 January 2020. The increased limit recognises that existing loan limits are insufficient to obtain the licences and ratings required for most practical commercial aviation employment. The increase will improve accessibility to courses and better support students and the commercial aviation sector.”

Those home educators looking into aviation as a course for their students should enquire further.

Strengthening Higher Education in Regional Australia—additional support for students and universities

” The Australian Government is providing $134.8 million over four years from 2018‑19 to strengthen higher education enrolment in regional Australia by funding additional study places, scholarships and enhanced facilities to increase accessibility. The measure includes $92.5 million over four years from 2018‑19 to support more students at five regionally focused universities: the University of the Sunshine Coast, James Cook University, the University of Newcastle, Central Queensland University and Federation University Australia. The measure also includes $42.3 million over four years from 2018‑19 to provide:

  • an additional 1,955 scholarships in 2019, valued at up to $18,000 each, for students undertaking Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Health and Agriculture tertiary qualifications—more than doubling the 1,200 scholarships previously available under the Rural and Regional Enterprise Scholarships announced in the 2017-18 Budget to provide $24.0 million over four years from 2017-18 to 2020-21 as part of the Australian Government’s 2016 election commitments;
  • support for additional Regional Study Hubs, for a total 16 Hubs across 22 locations to improve access to higher education for students from rural and remote Australia. This builds on the Regional Study Hubs announced in the 2017-18 Budget, which provided $16.7 million from 2018-19 to 2021‑22 to improve access to higher education for students from rural and remote Australia by supporting the establishment and operation of regional study hubs. Such hubs typically support regional students to study courses locally delivered by distance from any Australian university by providing greater access to study support and infrastructure; and
  • support for the development of a National Regional, Rural and Remote Higher Education Strategy, as part of the Government’s response to Emeritus Professor John Halsey’s Independent Review into Regional, Rural and Remote Education.

This builds on the Australian Government’s existing commitment of $123.6 million from 2017‑18 to 2021-22 for additional Commonwealth supported places to support expansion into regional areas. The University of the Sunshine Coast will receive funding for an additional 1,200 ongoing bachelor places in 2020, growing to 3,600 ongoing places in 2022, at a new campus in Moreton Bay. The University of Tasmania will receive funding for 1,000 ongoing places from 2019 to support the Northern Tasmanian Transformation Project. Southern Cross University will receive funding for an additional 105 ongoing places in 2019 and 210 ongoing places in 2020. These places, which are expected to grow to 315 ongoing places by 2021, will be utilised in allied health courses at a new campus in Coffs Harbour.”

Australian Apprenticeships—increased support

” The Australian Government has increased support for Australian Apprenticeships, with $27.6 million over four years from 2018‑19 to extend eligibility for the Support for Adult Australian Apprentices Incentive to apprentices aged 21 years and over (the current eligible age is 25 years and over). Extending eligibility to include apprentices aged 21 to 24 increases the support available for all Adult Australian Apprentices and provides a stronger incentive for employers to engage more adult apprentices in areas of skills needs.

To find out more about apprenticeships in Australia, click here.

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.

Need Work Experience Insurance?

One of the big challenges for non school based work experience in Australia, some internships or voluntary work, is the need for insurance cover to participate in the work place to see what job type may fit.

Photo by @thiszun (follow me on IG, FB) on Pexels.com

If your child has their eye set on a future profession or else wants to cultivate more experience trying different work environments, there can be the barrier of needing insurance cover. If the student is attending a school, the school will provide the insurance cover for the limited few weeks during school term. However home educated children are freer to explore their future of work as long as the insurance is attainable.

But what if your student is home educated, or your schooled child wants more experience during the holidays? What if your student is no longer registered as a student at all? What if you are a home educator? What then?

There are three options for work experience or Volunteer Worker’s Insurance:

  • Purchase insurance once off for the particular work experience, however, this can be in the many hundreds of dollars.
  • Whether a home educator or not, you can purchase a membership with the Home Education Network (HEN) for cover excluding Western Australia and Queensland for only $25. HEWA (formerly HBLN) for Western Australia cannot source work experience insurance and that continues to be a challenge there. HEN and HBLN are the only home education associations that have earned the trust of the home educating community to service home educator’s needs as an association for insurance purposes.
  • Some registering bodies also offer work insurance to home educating students, so be sure to contact your state registration body first to enquire if they can help you. Click here for a link to each body throughout Australia.
  • Or you can call your house and contents insurer and see if there is any provision for your student’s work experience to be included with your current package.

For further information on work experience in each state or territory, check out the Home Education Network’s page for helpful advice and links.

Ed Consult. Supporting Home Educators Across Australia.