By Cam Lucadou-Wells and Kath Gannaway
Home educated children and parents have condemned the State Government for “failing to do its homework” on proposed changes to home-schooling rules in Victoria.
At a meeting of more than 200 in Berwick in February, speakers underlined the value of home education as an option for students who have not flourished in a classroom setting.
Under the changes, each home educator had to submit individualised learning plans for a full year and were reviewed on a rolling basis by the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority.
Alicia Hoppit, a home-educating mother of five, said there was no evidence there was anything wrong with home education.
“There is no evidence that there is any need to change the regulations.”
Ms Hoppit said there was no criteria or guidelines for the plans, and a lack of consultation on the draft changes.
“They failed to do their homework.
“The result is regulations that are based on bias, fear and speculation.”
She criticised the State Government’s proposed requirement of a 28-day waiting period for permission to home educate as a “clear violation of parental rights and free choice”.
Home educator Litsa Grace said home education shouldn’t be regulated by a classroom-learning model.
“It is a widespread belief that children need to be in a classroom, in a school to learn. This just is not true.”
Oriyla, a 15-year-old student, said home education had given her a “remarkable opportunity”.
“In or out of home education, I am not alone with dyslexia,” Oriyla said.
“But home education has certainly allowed me an amazing amount of flexibility to adapt my learning environment to my individual special needs.”
Home Education Network coordinator Susan Wight said 60 per cent of home-education families chose to do so due to issues such as special needs, anxiety and bullying.
“Home education offers an important and valuable education alternative, often when the school system has already failed.
“Unless plans meet (bureaucrats’) narrow view of education, permission will be denied, trapping these students in school where their needs are not being met.”
At the forum were opposition education spokesman Nick Wakeling, Gembrook MP Brad Battin and DLP upper-house member Rachel Carling-Jenkins.
Education Minister James Merlino and Narre Warren South MP Judith Graley were invited but didn’t attend.
A Department of Education spokesman recently told Star News most home school families did a good job, and the regulations had been working well, but the aim should always be for improvement.
“Requiring a learning plan from home schooling families and giving the VRQA powers to review a family’s arrangements for home schooling are sensible steps forward,“ he said.
“It ensures young education they deserve while still leaving home schooling families with considerable freedom.”
The spokesman said there was no requirement to stick to a specified curriculum, no mandatory home visits and registration was ongoing rather than regularly reviewed like in other states.
“Assessment will be done by education experts who have experience in different learning styles, including home schooling.“