Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see – Neil Postman

Why would some families choose not to register?

There are a lot of families who, for various reasons, choose not to register with the homeschool authorities. The media spotlight was turned onto these families in 2011 when, after a high profile case, Bob Osmak from the Home Schooling Association of Queensland, was fined $500 for failing to register his 13 year old daughter for homeschool. According to the news report, he claimed he hand’t registered because it was designed by the department to “protect its own bureaucracy”. In addition, the news report stated:

[That] of the 11,000 children he estimated were being home schooled in Queensland, most were not registered because parents did not want them to come under the control of [the education department]. He said most parents he had spoken to were prepared to risk prosecution to stop their children being bullied and possibly fail to learn as a result. He hoped [the education department] would be provoked into making serious reforms to address problems in the system.

While these are interesting reasons to home-educate, they aren’t compelling reasons not to register. For example, presumably the child is already being home-educated so where is the risk of bullying? In addition, failing to learn implies that the schools are failing to teach, which they may be, however, not registering for home-education will have little impact on this as the children are already being educated at home.

I would guess that the complexity of the registration process may be one reason, why else might parents choose not to register? According to Bob Osmak, as seen in the quote above, one of the reasons is to prevent education departments controlling what families do. The notion that families choose to home-educate in order to free themselves of government control is supported by research.  A further reason might be that they do not understand that they need to send the forms back, when they move or if there’s a change to family circumstances, and that the old form needs to be updated.

Clearly, more work needs to be undertaken to examine the reasons parents who choose home-education often also choose to do so illegally.


2 Responses to “Why would some families choose not to register?”

  1. kmcg2375

    In what ways does the school system still ‘control’ registered homeschoolers? Is it the requirement of getting a “work plan” approved that might be the problem?

    • Rebecca English

      Well, the theory goes that schools control registered homeschoolers because they want to know what they are doing and how they are fitting in to a school model even though these people are trying to stay outside the school model. I suppose, the collection of data on homeschoolers is another aspect of the control idea. It seems that, for some homeschoolers, the attraction is to remain ‘off the grid’ in all forms of institutionalisation, including health (cf. Khalili & Caplan, 2007). It’s a fascinating area of research because of the many motivations and attitudes that are expressed among homeschool families. It seems the attitudes towards registration are as varied as the families that homeschool.


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