Registering for home education in Australia is different for each state and territory. This makes it tricky to write a ‘one size fits all’ method. Another factor that will impact you will be if registration bodies are attempting to change procedures in your state or territory. Registration methods are in a state of flux.
DO NOT take this as a sign that you won’t be able to register, or that you’re not allowed to home educate. Home education remains a legal practice in Australia for all students, just as enrolling in a school is likewise legal. Parents have both the right and responsibility to choose an education for their children that meets their needs.
NSW has had many changes and battles over the past 5+ years, including parents lobbying successfully for a Parliamentary Inquiry into the then Board of Studies (now NESA) procedures and practices. Things are slowly changing in NSW after NESA implemented the consultation process they were instructed to do. The new Information Package, used for registration, is currently in the draft stage and available from their website. It continues though, that home educators need to be vigilant in ensuring that home education practices are supported, and not impeded, due to the lack of experience in home education that the registration bodies have. Thankfully, they are listening to home educators. It is a shame that it took an expensive inquiry and over 10,000 signatures to force the communication.
Victoria and Tasmania are now involved in changes to processes there. Tasmania has had the highest compliance rate of registration. Many in the community attribute that to there always being an experienced home educator involved in the registration process. Tasmania has enjoyed a supportive rather than regulating registration process, including a much needed ‘provisional registration’ to ensure children needing to leave school quickly due to anxiety, depression or bullying can do so without waiting for registration processes to be completed first.
Slowly we are educating registration bodies to understand the true nature of this educational choice. It is somewhat alternative because it’s not schooling, however, it is focused on the learner and the whole world becomes the ‘classroom’. When professional educators who haven’t home educated take the time to learn ‘what is home education’ they see that it’s also one of the best educational experiences available for children who are ‘school aged’. Learning is a natural human experience. Children who are free to undertake self directed learning continue to learn as they did before reaching school age. Parents, and other adults, become tutors in this respect. Rather than a whole class waiting to see what the teacher will present to them, each child follows their own path of learning, encouraged by their parents, and others, but they are not prevented from learning, as often happens in schools due to routines and systems.
Home education is not like running a school in your house. It’s more like getting on with life as though schools don’t exist. Registration usually involves an experienced school teacher overseeing registration documents arranged in sometimes a similar way that teachers working in a school must write up. This is NOT best practice. This is a CONVENIENCE for people without home education experience.
I strongly urge all parents who are considering registration, or require assistance, to contact the HEA and have a home educating parent volunteer, especially a parent who lives near you, to help you through whatever process you will have to go through. Look at the ‘Contacts’ for your state or territory. There you will find a list of volunteers. They can also connect you with your local community of home educators for meet ups, excursions, activities, resources etc, and to generally say “welcome to the community.”
Now that I work as an administrative coordinator for the HEA I’ve ceased volunteering, as per constitution guidelines. However, you are more than welcome to contact me via email if you would like to book a consultation.