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

Changes to the BoS requirements for NSW home educators

As many of my Australian followers will know, there is a change that has just occurred to the NSW home education legislation. Basically, the legislation changed and now it will be impossible to legally unschool your child. The legislation now states (this is from the K-6 curriculum requirements but the 7-12 is no better):

The Education Act 1990 establishes minimum curriculum requirements for primary education (Kindergarten to Year 6). Part 3, Division 1, Section 8 of the Act provides that the primary curriculum must meet the following requirements:

(a) courses of study in each of the six key learning areas for primary education are to be provided for each child during each Year

This requirement suggests that unschooling is no longer possible because the child must study from the six KLAs (Key Learning Areas).

(b) courses of study relating to Australia are to be included in the key learning area of Human Society and Its Environment

Again, this requirements suggests that unschooling is no longer possible because the child has to (1) study HSE and study something about Australia. It doesn’t matter what the child’s interests are, they can no longer lead the learning.

(c) courses of study in both Art and Music are to be included in the key learning area of Creative and Practical Arts

Again, this requirements suggests that unschooling is no longer possible because we can forget the numeracy skills associated with music, it’s all about the creative and practical arts. BTW what are ‘practical arts’? I ask because it suggests lurking somewhere are some impractical arts.

(d) courses of study in each key learning area are to be appropriate for the children concerned having regard to their level of achievement and needs

While this looks unschool friendly on the surface, it again restricts a family’s right to unschool because they have to be studying from each of the KLAs.

(e) courses of study in a key learning area are to be provided in accordance with any relevant guidelines developed by the Board and approved by the Minister

Thus, unschoolers must comply with the Board and with the requirements set out at government level. It doesn’t take a cynic to know that the minister is guided by his bureaucrats.

(f) courses of study in a key learning area are to be based on, and taught in accordance with, a syllabus developed or endorsed by the Board and approved by the Minister.

Again, unschoolers are no longer free to set their own curricular. The curricular requirements are laid out in the (National Curriculum) documents produced by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA).

The timing of this is interesting, there is a move to make vaccination a requirement for all families, suggesting the government is moving to control families’ rights to choose for their own children. A failure to allow unschooling suggests that the only home education model allowable is school at home.

This post does not consider the right of the Board to enter homes and check what the children are doing. That’s another post. The requirements home educators must meet are more stringent than those required of school teachers. And, we must remember the Steiner and Montessori schools who are able to use their own syllabi, and are thus not as strictly controlled as the home education community for whom the National Curriculum documents are implied as the only ones that will be approved.

There is a petition that I encourage you to sign.


7 Responses to “Changes to the BoS requirements for NSW home educators”

      • Karleen

        That we really don’t know Rebecca. I suspect that there may have been a change of staff at the OBoS and that new staff decided that the previous practice was slack and needed to be tightened up but I really don’t know. No I’m not doing research but am involved in the lobbying to get the new policies withdrawn. The new practice has been devastating to some families. Those with children with special needs seem to be those who are worst affected and the pressure on these parents and kids is enormous. One child even ended up in hospital because of the registration process.

    • Karleen

      The Minister’s Office is aware of the situation as is the OBoS. I’m an adjunct in the School of Nursing and Midwifery at UWS and also a long time (15 year) home educator.

  1. Rebecca English

    Maybe we can write a paper about it for Principal Matters? It’s a principals’ journal. It will massively impact on principals too, especially if kids get ‘forced’ back to school.


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