You are allowed to home educate your child in NSW as per the Education Act 1990 (link). In NSW, the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) (link) oversees home education registration. It is preferable families who are new, or unsure about NSW home education and the requirements, to contact NESA with their questions so they can provide accurate and up-to-date information. However, we recommend you download the Guidelines for Home Schooling Registration in NSW first, available on the NESA website (link), and read through this before making contact, as you will find many of your questions answered there. The NESA Home Schooling Unit can be contacted by phone on 02 9367 8149, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Your child must reside in NSW to register to home school with NESA.
The compulsory school age is from 6 years up to 17 years of age. You can register to home school your child at any time during their schooling, and at any time of the year. Additionally, you can register your child for home education at the beginning of the calendar year if they are turning five years of age on or before the 31st of July that year, however it is not compulsory until they are 6 years of age, but they must be registered by the time they turn 6. Allow at least 12 weeks for the registration process. You may register to home educate your child for up to two years at a time. You can continue to home educate beyond the two years as long as you renew your registration. You can also choose to home educate your child until they turn 18.
If you have more than one child that you are home educating, you may choose to organise yourself so that their registrations all align at the same time.
If you choose home schooling and your child/children are currently enrolled at a school you will need to complete the registration form, and associated documentation, and continue sending your children to school until your home school registration is approved, or you can seek an exemption from the school, or get a medical certificate to obtain approved leave.
You cannot part-time home educate your child in NSW.
The NESA website (link) has lots of information to help with the home education registration process. On NESAs Home Schooling Registration (link) webpage you will find the Guidelines for Home Schooling Registration in NSW document. Please download this document and read it. It has detailed information on registration requirements, including what you need to provide, as well as some commonly asked questions and answers.
You do not need to pay a third-party provider to help you register for home education in NSW. NESA are very helpful and are more than happy to guide you through the process (for free!).
Home school registration in NSW is a three-step process; Step 1: Application Form, Step 2: Assessment Visit, and Step 3: Approval. We have compiled some general information for you on the registration process. For the latest information, or to ask specific questions, you should contact the NESA Home Schooling Unit directly, as per their contact details above. They will be happy to assist you with your query.
NSW Registration Process (New Applications)
Step 1: Application Form
Before you can commence home schooling your child you must complete and submit Form 1: Application for Initial Registration (or Exemption from Registration) for Home Schooling which is available on the NESA website (link).
The form is not onerous, and is straightforward to complete. You must complete one form for each child that you intend to home educate. You do not register for a specific year on the form; instead you must select Primary (Kindergarten to Year 6), Junior Secondary (Years 7 to 10), or Senior Secondary (Years 11 and 12).
At this stage in the registration process you do not need to provide anything other than Form 1, and if relevant (as outlined in the application form), documents such as court orders, or letter of consent if out-of-home care.
In Form 1 you are requested to acknowledge, by way of Yes or No check boxes that you are prepared for the Assessment Visit from an Authorised Person (AP). Prepared means you have read and addressed the requirements for home schooling as outlined in the Guidelines for Home Schooling Registration in NSW, and you will have:
- records of your child’s previous educational history and attainment (except for children that have just turned six);
- an educational program for your child that is based on NESA syllabuses;
- a method for recording learning activities;
- a method for recording student achievement and progress; and
- sufficient resources and a suitable learning environment.
Once you have completed Form 1 you must submit the form via email to the Home Schooling Unit; email@example.com. Upon submitting your form you will receive an automated email response. Congratulations! You have now started the registration process.
Step 2: Assessment Visit
Once you have submitted Form 1, you are invited to attend a compulsory Assessment Visit. All your documentation (items 1 to 5 above) must be ready for this meeting. But, prior to this meeting you may be contacted by the Authorised Person to provide your educational program, this provides an opportunity for NESA to review your program in preparation for the Assessment Visit. So, it is best to ensure your documentation is ready well in advance.
Prior to the COVID pandemic the registration meeting was held at the home educating family’s residence. This allowed the Authorised Person to check the suitability of the learning environment. The meeting is now held via online video conference. Further information about these changes is available on the NESA website.
It can take up to 12 weeks to process your application to home school, but it may also take much less time, so it’s best to ensure all your documentation is ready.
Records of the Child’s Previous Educational History and Attainment
If your child went to a school before you registered to home school then you can use a school report for this section. If you home educated in another state, your previous registration and reporting documents are suitable.
If your child has not been to school yet because they have just become of school age, you do not have to provide evidence of previous educational history and attainment.
An Educational Program Based on the Relevant NESA Syllabuses
The educational program is also known as the “Plan”. Your educational program must detail the year level and/or stage (see Stages below for further information) your child will be undertaking during the registration period, and the content/outcomes they will cover. The content you propose to cover must meet the outcomes outlined in the relevant NESA syllabus. The NESA syllabuses for each stage and subject area are available from the NESA website (link). NESA syllabuses are also known as the NSW curriculum. See NESA Syllabuses/NSW Curriculum below for further information.
When preparing your educational program be mindful that during the registration period your child may be finishing one stage and entering another. Hence, it is a good idea to have an educational program for the next stage as well. A registration period for home education can be granted for up to a maximum period of two years at a time. Typically, the initial registration is approved for a shorter period (e.g., 12 months).
When writing your educational program ensure you use the syllabuses from the NESA website, this way you will have the most up-to-date version. You can sign-up to NESA notifications (link) if you like, that way you will receive email notification of any changes to the syllabuses. You do not need to include the whole syllabus in your educational program. You can just use the Stage Statements and/or Outcomes. NESA have created a document with just the Stage Statements and Outcomes, you can find it on their Support Information page (link), it is called the Stage Statements and Outcomes Programming Tool K–10. The Support Information page has other very useful information.
NESA also provide examples of Home Schooling Educational Plans (link) (also known as educational programs). You can download them and see what other parents have submitted. The educational program is not onerous, and you can see from the examples they are quite varied in content and length. Your educational plan needs to show the program is suitable for your child, and that you have identified their learning needs.
Remember, this educational program is not set in concrete. Whilst you are teaching your child you may identify gaps or difficulties that need to be addressed. Document this in your records of learning and write about it in your reporting, which you provide when you renew your home school registration.
If you have a child with a disability and/or additional learning needs you may adjust the NSW curriculum to meet their needs. The Year 7–10 syllabuses include Life Skills outcomes and content, and there are Life Skills courses of study for Years 11-12. Life Skills is designed for students that cannot access traditional curriculum outcomes. Information on Life Skills (link) is available on the NESA website.
NESA does not recommend, or provide, a particular method, resource or format for meeting the outcomes of your educational program. In other words, NESA set the outcomes (i.e., the concepts/skills to be taught to the student), but parents decide how to teach it. Your educational program will reflect the particular learning style of your child, and each child is different.
A Method for Recording Learning Activities
You will need to show you have a suitable method for recording how you will deliver the educational program (i.e., the learning activities that your child will participate in). The Authorised Person will want to see you are organised and have a plan for your day-to-day learning, and how you will record it. Perhaps you might like to record what you are doing, and your planning, in a diary. You might also have a weekly timetable, which you use to show how you intend to break up your week. Additional ideas are noted below under A method for Recording Student Achievement and Progress.
Each home school is different. You need to work out what will work for you, and your children, and satisfy the registration requirements. You might like to talk with other families home schooling in NSW for ideas, and then check with the Home Schooling Unit at NESA to confirm your proposed method(s) will meet registration requirements.
A method for Recording Student Achievement and Progress
You will need to show you have a suitable system to record the progress and achievement of learning. There are many ways to record achievement and progress. You might choose one method or a combination. Some families print the NESA outcomes, and then date and tick it when the child has completed one, or note that further work is necessary. You might use the stage statement and highlight when they achieved a learning concept/topic, or note when further work is necessary. Or you might like to go through the curriculum and tick-off everything (which you don’t have to do, it would be an onerous approach!).
Other methods for recording include keeping a diary, or using an app such as SeeSaw to photograph and document a child’s achievements and progress. Other families use an archive box where they store certificates, annotated and dated hardcopy work (e.g., essays, workbooks, art work), and other items produced/achieved by the child. There are many ways to record achievement and progress. Find a method, or combination of methods, that work for you. If in doubt, the Home Schooling Unit at NESA are more than happy to offer guidance.
Not all children will achieve all outcomes, you however need to provide the learning opportunity. Assess your child’s progress as you provide a learning opportunity. Has your child grasped the concept and is now competent? Are they developing the skill but don’t fully understand it yet? Or are they learning and understanding at a much higher level? If they are not developing an understanding of the concept, how will you adjust the teaching to help them gain an understanding so there is progress? If your child is learning at a higher level, how will you keep them engaged and progressing? These are the considerations that NESA will look for in your records.
Sufficient Resources and a Suitable Learning Environment
This is pretty straightforward… Identify all the resources you will use to teach, for example: games, whiteboard, pens, pencils, workbooks, text books, ordinary books, flashcards, games, using the public library, going to cultural institutions etc. Have a look at the sample Home Schooling Educational Plans (link), see what they have included. Use the examples in your own educational plan.
Step 3: Approval
Once you have completed your Assessment Visit, and have met all registration requirements, you will receive your approval to home educate via email. You will receive a certificate that lists pertinent information, including the period of time you have been authorised to home educate; initial registrations are usually 12 months but can be shorter.
If your application is refused you may wish to contact a support group to assist you, such as the Home Education Association (HEA) (link). HEA do a lot of advocacy work and will know how best to support you. Only a small percentage of applications are refused. Home Schooling Data (link) statistics are available on the NESA website.
Sometimes, if the Authorised Person feels you are not quite organised enough, or your educational program is not sound enough, they may approve you but for a shorter registration period (rather than refusing you outright). This gives you an opportunity to start home education, but also review your documents so that you can demonstrate your competence. If you are refused, or are given a shorter registration period, have a conversation with the Authorised Person. Ask questions so that you understand what you need to address. Don’t be afraid to seek their help.
Renewing Your Home School Registration
As your registration period draws to an end, if you wish to continue home education you will need to renew your registration. To initiate renewal you must complete and submit Form 2: Application for Renewal of Registration for Home Schooling which is available on the NESA website (link). We recommend you submit your renewal form at least 12 weeks (3 months) before the expiry of your current registration. You may like to set a reminder in your calendar.
Once your renewal form has been processed you will be invited to an Assessment Visit (also known as a renewal meeting). Just like your initial registration meeting, you must prepare for the Assessment Visit. Prior to the meeting you may be contacted by the Authorised Person to provide your educational program, this provides an opportunity for NESA to review your program in preparation for the Assessment Visit. So, it is recommended that you have prepared for the meeting well in advance.
As the Assessment Visit is for a renewal, the Authorised Person will want to see:
- an educational program that addresses all the stages your child will be moving through during the forthcoming registration period (e.g., if your child is in year 4 but will move into year 5, then you must prepare an educational program to cover Stage 2 (for Year 4) and Stage 3 (for Year 5);
- records (evidence) of the progress and achievements of your child in the current registration period, and how you intend to record the progress and achievements of learning in the forthcoming registration period;
- records (evidence) of how you delivered the educational program (i.e., learning activities) in the current registration period, and how you intend to record the learning activities in the forthcoming registration period;
- records of the time allocated to student learning (e.g., you might like to use a pie chart such as the example in the Guidelines for Home Schooling Registration in NSW, or a timetable perhaps. Chat to other home school families in NSW or NESA for further ideas); and
- evidence of sufficient resources (including the learning environment).
If your renewal meeting with the Authorised Person is earlier than the expiry date of your current registration, your new registration period will commence from the expiry date of your current registration.
If you are using an app as part of your record keeping, think about how you will show the Authorised Person (especially if your meeting is via video call). Perhaps you may choose to provide them with temporary access, or you may opt to provide screen shots. In any case address access issues before the meeting.
Once you have completed your Assessment Visit, and have met all registration requirements, you will receive your approval to home educate via email. If your application is refused you may wish to contact a support group, refer to Step 3: Approval above.
NESA Syllabuses/NSW Curriculum and the Australian National Curriculum
The NESA Syllabuses, which are collectively known as the NSW Curriculum, are based on the Australian National Curriculum. Both the NSW Curriculum and Australian National Curriculum are free. The NSW Curriculum and Syllabuses (link) are available on the NESA website, and the Australian National Curriculum is available on the Australian Curriculum website (link). You might find the A-Z of the NSW Syllabuses (link) page an easier way to access the NSW syllabuses.
There are hyperlinks from the NSW syllabuses to the Australian National Curriculum, and Australian National Curriculum codes have been added to NSW syllabuses. For example, the code ACELT1619 in the English K-10 NSW Syllabus (the code appears in fine print next to a content descriptor) corresponds to the English content description coded ACELT1619 in the Australian National Curriculum.
It is important to understand the connection between the NSW Curriculum and the Australian National Curriculum. This is because many resources have been developed to meet the outcomes of the Australian National Curriculum, and by using these resources you can meet the outcomes of the NSW Curriculum. This is very handy because many of these resources are free, and the outcomes of the Australian National Curriculum have been applied to educational material in many cultural and educational institutions, such as museums, galleries, and government operated attractions.
Developing an educational program for your child does not have to be an expensive endeavour. You can access curriculum for free, and there are plenty of free resources. One in particular is your local public library. There are also a large number of educational supply businesses that have free resources, as well as many government departments, and businesses/corporations that have an educational resources section on their website. Sometimes all that is needed is some Internet sleuthing.
Stages (Year Levels)
The NSW Curriculum is split into stages. They are:
Each Stage has corresponding syllabuses. Detailed information on the subject areas within each syllabus is available on the NESA website. The following is simply an overview of the subjects you are required to cover at the different stages of your child’s home education:
- Primary curriculum (Kindergarten to Year 6) must include: English, Mathematics, Science and Technology, Human Society and Its Environment (HSIE), Creative Arts, and Personal Development, Health and Physical Education (PDHPE).
- Secondary curriculum (Years 7 to 10) must include: English, Mathematics, Science, HSIE and two more subjects, as selected by the parent, from two different key learning areas, these are: Creative Arts, Technology, PDHPE and Languages. Some of these ‘elective’ areas have a variety of different subject areas within them. Such as Technology which has: Food, Fashion Design and Textiles, Woodwork, Metalwork, Technical Drawing, and Computing to name a few examples.
- Years 11 and 12 are a little bit different as the Education Act 1990 requires the educational program to reflect a pattern of study. The NESA website has extensive information on Year 11 and 12 studies, including a page on Sample Home Schooling Patterns of Study (link).
Year 10 Certificate
If your child has completed their Year 10 education via home schooling you can apply to NESA for a Certificate of Completion of Year 10. This is optional, but your child may find it useful to gain employment or further education.
You can apply for a Year 10 certificate six weeks in advance of completing Year 10, or within 12 months of your child completing Year 10.
There is no “test” that the child must sit to be awarded a Year 10 certificate, but as outlined in the Guidelines for Home Schooling Registration in NSW there are eligibility requirements, including providing evidence (through records, samples etc.) the Year 10 educational program was implemented and completed. The application is assessed by an Authorised Person.
To apply for a Year 10 certificate, you must complete and submit Form 3 Application for Certification of Completion of Year 10, which is available on the NESA website.
There are many support groups out there that can help you with registration. There are Incorporated Associations like us (HENCAST); the Home Education Association (HEA) (link) provide wonderful advocacy assistance, and there are other groups like Home Education NSW (link) on Facebook that can help. Searching historical posts on Facebook groups is a great way of finding information and ideas from people that home educate. And of course, the NSW Home Schooling Unit in NESA are available to provide guidance, which is guaranteed to be accurate and up-to-date. The Unit can be contacted by phone on 02 9367 8149, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional Support Resources
As detailed on this webpage, NESA provide a wide scope of resources for home educating parents. In addition to the support resources we have mentioned, you may be interested in:
- NSW K-10 Samples of Scope and Sequence (link).
- An educational program builder (link) that is accessible through Scootle (link). Once you are registered you can apply for a Scootle account by emailing the NSW Home Schooling Unit, and providing them with your name, your child’s name, and your home address. Scootle is an educational resource hub supported by the Australian Government Department of Education.
- NSW Premier’s Reading Challenge (PRC) (link), you can register by contacting the PRC team on email@example.com.
- WriteOn Competition (link), which is an annual writing competition open to all NSW primary students form Years 1–6, including home schooling students.
- NAPLAN, home school families can pay to have their child participate in NAPLAN. NAPLAN is not compulsory. Further information is available in Guidelines for Home Schooling Registration in NSW (link).
© 2022 Home Education Network Canberra and Southern Tablelands