Home educators win fight for more consultation before rule changes

Vivienne Wynter

Home schoolers have been successful in their campaign against plans to make them follow the Australian Curriculum, after telling a Queensland Parliament Committee on 4 April ‘it feels like this review is seeking to eradicate home education’.

Home Education Association (HEA) Queensland representative Samantha Bryan told the Education Committee the Queensland Government should not make an ‘unwitting blunder’ with ‘restrictive legislation’ on home schooling.

In March,, the Minister for Education, Di Farmer, had tabled proposed new laws changing requirements for home education.

Minister for Education Di Farmer

The rules are changing

Minister Farmer said changes were needed because the number of students being home schooled had tripled since COVID.

According to Education Queensland, there were roughly 10,000 students registered for home education in 2023, up from three and a half thousand in 2019 and only a few hundred in 2006.

Minister Farmer said: ‘The legislation will require home education to be provided in a way that is in the best interests of the child or young person, taking into account their safety and wellbeing, including the requirement to follow the Australian Curriculum.’

HEA opposes the new laws and appeared before a public hearing of the Queensland Parliament Education Committee on 4 April to argue against them.

Ms Bryan told the committee the government had not provided evidence to support the proposed changes.

School system questioned

The HEA’s submission to the committee said the majority of home schooled students had been in the school system and more attention was needed to why they left.

‘Imposing the same curriculum… used in schools would seem to be forcing students to take with them what is potentially a key reason for their departure from the system,’ the submission said.

Ms Bryan said following the curriculum would stress parents and children.

‘Having to align to the Australian curriculum would take a lot of work to learn what it is and then how to follow it’,’ she said.

‘A significant difference between school and home education is that school starts with the curriculum and then tailors that’ (to the child).

‘Home education starts with the child and asks what do they need to become a functioning adult and then they gather the resources, which may include curriculum, to achieve that.’

Home educators say they need more flexibility than curriculum allows

The HEA is asking Queensland residents to sign and share a petition to parliament ‘to have the concerns of home educators and other members of the public heard by the government’.

Minister Farmer said the best interests of students were the government’s priority.

“With the increase in the number of families choosing home schooling, we need to make sure that the interests of the student are the priority especially in regard to their well-being and safety and this what this legislation will do.’

To be home educated, a child must be registered with Education Queensland’s Home Education Unit.

There currently are no requirements for home schooling parents or carers to follow any curriculum.

Minister withdraws home schooling provisitions from bill

In mid-April Minister Farmer announced she had listened to stakeholders and was withdrawing the proposed new laws around home schooling in from the new education bill, in order to extend the consultation process.

“I will also be establishing a Home Education Advisory Group to consider in detail how we ensure children being home schooled are receiving the high quality education,’ Minister Farmer said.

“Additional, a review will commence into the role of the Home Education Unit to how best it can help not only better regulate, but provide important support to families who choose to home school.regulation around home schooling in Queensland.

PHOTO of girl on device at top of story by Carl Jorgensen

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