Home Education Q&A

 

Below are some frequently asked questions and answers about home-education.

Home education means parents take direct responsibility for the education of their children, sourcing their own learning materials and opportunities. It can also be called home-school.

Families home educate for all kinds of reasons; it may be a matter of personal beliefs and philosophies, or a path that better suits a child whose needs are not being met at school. Some families home school just for a while, others right the way through.

To home school/educate you need to register in your state or territory, there is no enrolling. Distance education is different to home schooling.
Yes. All children of school age must legally have access to an education, but attending school is not compulsory. Every child has a ‘right’ to home education.

Home education is legal in all states of Australia, but each state or territory has its own legislative requirements and registration processes.
While the legal requirements of home educators vary between states, every state requires parents to register their children as home educated with their state or territory education department.

Generally, this is a straightforward process and parents who have taken a considered approach to their child’s education and welfare experience few problems. Please see the individual pages on our website for registration information for NSW (link) and ACT (link)

Registration is the responsibility of parents, and not a requirement for HENCAST membership.
You do not need any formal teaching qualifications to home educate your child/children. Whilst there may be many teachers who choose to home educate their own children, there are equally, if not more parents who are not teachers home educating their children.

From birth you have been the first teacher in your child’s life. They have learned many things from birth and you have been there with them, supporting them to learn, communicate and function in the world. Your personal life experience and knowledge is an invaluable resource for your children. You are more than qualified to home educate them.

If your child has a disability or special needs you can still register them for home education. Access to any form of education is available to all children and young people, including home education.
Part-time home education in combination with part-time school attendance is the right of all children in the ACT. This requires negotiation with the school executive, at your nominated school, to decide on an acceptable timetable.

Support from an advocacy service (e.g. ADACAS or Advocacy For Inclusion) may be helpful with this process.

Part-time home schooling is not an option in NSW, however home schooling can offer flexibility as to how the curriculum is implemented and met. As long as registration requirements are met, and applicants can demonstrate that sufficient time is dedicated to meet the curriculum and requirements, then there is flexibility about when schooling takes place.

There are a variety of ways to keep records of the learning and progress in home education, you just need to find what works best for you.

Here are some record keeping ideas:

  • Keep hard copies of everything in a file/folder and date stamp it;
  • Use a diary to document daily learning;
  • Create a private Instagram or Facebook group/page and upload evidence. You can also invite family to view the learning;
  • Use one of the many apps available, such as SeeSaw, Trello, Freely, Evernote to name a few. If you choose to use an app, sign-up as the teacher not the parent, as there is different functionality for parents and teachers. Many of these apps have free versions and they will give you enough functionality to get a satisfactory folio of evidence. In fact, many primary schools use a variety of these apps to document learning. You can also invite family as the “parent” to see the learning evidence;
  • Print out sections of the syllabus, stage statements and/or outcomes for NSW and highlight areas as they are completed;
  • Write a comprehensive report; or
  • Use a combination of the above.

What is important is that you keep records of the educational program your child has participated in to show how it has been delivered and how you have fulfilled the requirements of registration in your state or territory. The records can be paper based, digital or a combination, what matters is that you have evidence of the learning and program of learning.

If you choose to use an app or web interface make sure you are happy with all of the conditions for signing up. HENCAST does not endorse any particular service more than another, we are just giving you introductory information, a starting point from which you can research further.

The home education contact at your state/territory education department can assist you if you are having difficulty deciding how to record progress.

It’s also a good idea to keep a copy of all your registration forms, plans/statement of intent, reports for registration and registration certificates until your child has entered their chosen profession. They may need evidence of their schooling to be registered by a regulatory board.

Families home educate in many different ways, according to their beliefs and preferences, and within the requirements of their state. Some families find it helpful to have a curriculum and stated educational direction, others prefer to follow a less formal educational path. There are many different educational philosophies out there, you can research to see what method you like best. Some educational philosophies used in Australian schools, that are also used in home-school and work well include: Montessori, Steiner and Charlotte Mason. Other philosophies that work well in home school include: project-based learning, interest-led learning, unschooling, and classical education.

For those who want to keep an eye on what schools may be doing at a similar age level, the Australian National Curriculum is available on the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) website (link).

You can choose to use a tutor or teacher, however, you still have to oversee your child’s education as you are responsible as the parent/s. Many children in schools see a tutor after school hours for assistance.

You don’t need to enrol in a curriculum as you are completely in charge of your child’s learning, as long as you meet the requirements of your state governing body.

You may wish to purchase access to a curriculum by a provider, but as mentioned this is not necessary. Check your state’s home education information pages, or give them a call, to understand what is required in your state.

Purchasing a curriculum does not negate the requirement to register for home education in your state/territory.

There are a myriad of opportunities for home educated children to socialise. Home educated children generally interact with a wider variety of adults and school aged children, and they do so in real-world contexts. Children don’t typically get the same exposure in a school setting.

HENCAST exists to provide social opportunities and support for home-educating families.

Home school families often say that socialisation opportunities are so plentiful that it can be difficult finding the time for formal academic studies.

As there is no set curriculum or assessment process for home educated students in the ACT, the ACT Education Directorate does not provide Year 10 or Year 12 certificates for home educated students.

In NSW, if a child has completed Year 10 through home schooling registration, the parent can apply for a Certificate of Completion of Year 10 through NESA. The certificate is optional, but may be worth pursuing as some home schooled students have found it useful for further study or employment opportunities. NESA do not provide Year 12 Certificates (Higher School Certificate (HSC)) for home educated students.

The requirements that must be met to attain a Year 10 Certificate in NSW are outlined on the NESA Home Schooling Registration website (link)

Young people registered for home education in the ACT can also complete an Australian School-based Apprenticeship (ASbA). Information about this can be found on the ACT Education Directorate website (link), or parents can email VETforSS@act.gov.au.

In NSW, registered children can participate in a School-based Apprenticeship and Traineeship (SBAT). SBATs are available to all Year 10, 11 and 12 high school students in NSW. Information about SBATs is available on the Training Services NSW website (link).
Yes. Home educated children can access tertiary education via alternate pathways, just like others can, such as foreign or mature-age students. HENCAST have further information about university entrance on our webpage Pathways to Tertiary Education (link).

The best way to do this is to come along to a HENCAST event and chat to some of our members. Potential new members are welcome to attend two Thursday activities by invitation from the Secretary before joining HENCAST.

We also have an Enquiry List — volunteers from a variety of backgrounds, age levels, specialist areas, who are happy to chat to you about their experience.

For either of these options, contact the HENCAST Secretary or use our Contact Form (link).

Home educators find resources and inspiration in all kinds of places! A few ideas:

  • Many institutions (museums, galleries, etc.) have education programs which they are happy for home educators to access;
  • Canberra is full of activities, events and exhibitions. Keep an eye on publications such as Canberra’s Child, The Chronicle, Canberra Weekly;
  • Search the internet. The web is full of great materials;
  • Educational suppliers carry textbooks and other educational materials. A quick internet search will find many educational suppliers in Australia;
  • Chat to other home educators and find out what they are doing; and
  • Libraries are great for books and electronic resources. If you have not touched base with your local library contact them for an orientation session. In particular the ACT Public Library (link) has awesome online resources, ebooks and more! If you are in NSW go to your local council library service and see what they can offer.

HENCAST is an inclusive group, we welcome everyone, whatever their situation. It is not our role to provide resources or referrals for specific conditions or needs. We may, however, have other members in similar situations who are willing to share their experience.

Contact Centrelink at Services Australia (link) to enquire about any payments that may be available.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) (link) is also a possible source of support for children with documented physical or mental disabilities.

NSW also has the Life Skills Curriculum (link) which you may find helpful, as well as a page with information on Adjustments (link).

Yes, students in the ACT and NSW can access Distance Education. Home schoolers can enrol directly with a distance education provider of their choice, but in this instance, parents retain responsibility for their child’s education and their child must be registered as a home school student. Distance education is delivered remotely by one or more teachers, they follow curriculum and develop all course content for students.

Alternatively, eligible students can access Distance Education through the NSW Education Department, or ACT Education Directorate. In this instance, students must be enrolled in the school system, and the NSW Education Department and ACT Education Directorate retain responsibility for your child’s educational program (as they do with any public school). Parents simply support their child to complete the learning programs developed by the distance education provider.

The NSW Education website (link) and ACT Education Directorate website (link) provide information on Distance Education for students that remain enrolled in the school system.
One misconception is unschooling is about keeping your child home and not registering them. Registration to home educate is not optional, you must register in your state or territory, regardless of the method of home education you use.

Unschooling is a method of home schooling where there is no formal approach to learning, the child has the freedom to learn in their own time through living, by doing the things that interest them and through life’s experiences.

Unschooling is an effective approach for some children, but it is not for all children. It is important to know if your child requires a different approach to learning.

Whilst the ACT makes it much easier to use the unschooling method, it is still achievable in NSW. The NSW Curriculum/Syllabus documents outline the areas that must be covered during your child’s education. Upon reviewing these documents, you will find that many things are covered naturally through informal learning at home and in the community.

Irrespective of the home schooling method you choose, there is no requirement to declare the style of home education you have selected, because what is relevant is demonstrating the learning that will, and has, taken place that aligns with the relevant NESA syllabuses.

A great Facebook group is The Educating Parents Homeschooling and Unschooling (link)
Travel and home education is not always approved. Each state and territory have their own rules. If you have questions about travel and home education it is best to contact the state or territory you live in to find out the relevant regulations.

Some states and territories may say you need to be registered for Distance Education, which is different to home schooling as the child is enrolled in a Distance Education School.
Yes, your child can do work experience as a home educated young person. Work experience is an arrangement between you as the parent/guardian, the business where your child is interested in gaining experience, and the insurance provider.

Yes, the business and/or the student will need appropriate insurance to complete a work experience placement. Some businesses hold the necessary insurance cover for work experience students, whilst others will require the student to have their own insurance. It is the parent’s responsibility to ensure there is appropriate insurance cover in place.

If you are registered in the ACT to home school then your young person has access to work experience insurance cover through the Education Directorate. Contact the Directorate on DETWex@act.gov.au about work experience for ACT home school registered students.

Insurance is not provided by NESA for NSW registered students. You may wish to contact the NSW Department of Education to see if they provide insurance cover.

The Home Education Association (HEA) (link) provide work experience cover for home schooled students in the ACT and NSW. To access HEAs insurance cover you must be a member, and you must lodge an application with them requesting cover. The HEA will work with you to ensure the work experience placement aligns with the terms and conditions of their insurance provider.

Most work experience placements can be covered by insurance, but there may be some placements (considered too risky) that may not be covered by insurance.

The duration of work experience must be negotiated with the business, and the insurance provider (e.g., HEA, ACT Education Directorate, or another independent provider). Work experience placements can be as short as one-two hours, half a day, or a full day. They can be longer, such as a couple of days or longer. Not all work experience placements have to be hands-on (where the student undertakes work), a lot can be achieved by simply allowing students to observe workplaces. In fact, some businesses can’t provide hands-on placements, but they are happy to allow students to observe.

Parents should also be mindful that work experience does not become an avenue for businesses to take advantage of your child. Free labour is an attractive proposition. Work experience is an enrichment opportunity for the student, where appropriate mentoring is provided by the workplace for a defined period of time. Work experience may lead to paid employment which must be provided and undertaken in accordance with legislated employment conditions, the Fair Work Ombudsman's website (link) provides valuable information. Work experience insurance cover does not cover students in paid employment.

Business, and students, also have a responsibility to behave lawfully and to treat each other with respect. Help your student understand what is appropriate workplace behaviour before undertaking their placement. This will help them understand what is expected of them, and how to recognise inappropriate behaviour or requests that may be imposed on them in the workplace.
Yes, your child can do volunteer work as a home educated young person. Like work experience, this is an arrangement between you as the parent/guardian and the charity where your child would like to volunteer. Ensure the charity holds appropriate insurance cover (see Can my child do work experience? for more information).

If HENCAST is participating in a volunteering activity, then the committee will source evidence of appropriate insurance cover from the charity. HENCAST also has its own insurance cover, and all members are covered.
Home schooled Students aged 12 and above who are registered in the ACT can get a student ID card through the Home Education Team in the ACT Education Directorate.

The card is a plastic ID card similar to those offered to students enrolled in ACT public secondary schools. These cards are issued at no cost to families and are not compulsory, families can still use their registration certificate for identification purposes.

To apply for an ACT student ID card you need to email the Home Education Team (HomeEd@act.gov.au) with your registered child's full name, date of birth, and a digital (.jpeg) colour photograph of the student showing their face from the shoulders up, on a white background.

Cards are printed at the end of each month, so make sure you submit your application at least 3 weeks before the end of the month to ensure it can be completed that month. Once your ID card application has been received you will be invited with your child/ren to a drop-in session via video conference so a member of the team can sight the child to confirm their identity.

Whilst home-education associations can supply you with a student ID card, these are not classified as an official card for identification purposes, as they are not issued by a government body. ACT Education Directorate issued student ID cards can be used to access concession travel on public transport, and as proof of identify across many government and private-sector services.

NESA has not returned our email regarding student ID cards for NSW registered home schooled students, so you may like to contact them to confirm the availability of NSW Government issued student ID cards for home schoolers.
Yes, ACT and NSW home schooled students can get public transport concessions.

In the ACT, NSW and ACT home schooled children of primary school age can purchase a MyWay student card without presenting a student ID card from any recharge agent.

As per the advice on the Transport ACT website (link), full-time home schooled students of high school and college age must present a student ID card at the time of purchasing their MyWay card (from any recharge agent), and if requested, they must present their student ID card as proof of concession entitlement on Transport Canberra services. See Can my home school registered child get a student ID card? for information about student ID cards.

In NSW, ACT and NSW home schooled children from four to 15 years of age are entitled to concession fares (under 3’s are free), and eligible home schooled secondary students 16 years and over are also entitled to concession fares on public transport in NSW. Detailed information is available on the NSW Transport website (link), scroll down the page to find the application form for concession cards and specific information for home schooled students.

If you enrol in University, TAFE or CIT whilst you are being home schooled you should be issued with a student ID card from that institution.

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