Goulburn Valley Home School co-ordinator Cheryl Jandesu is worried new Victorian Government draft education regulations could make Victoria’s homeschooling the most regulated in the country.
The key proposed legislation would require parents to re-register and submit individual learning plans for each home-schooled child that would be subject to approval from the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority in 2018.
‘‘Parents choose homeschooling because of the flexibility to teach to the needs of their children and learning style that helps them reach their education and life goals,’’ Mrs Jandesu said.
‘‘We are concerned that the people who would judge learning plans have no experience with homeschooling and will make it so hard for homeschoolers to follow their plans they may just give up and enrol their kids in school.
‘‘We want to know how tough are they going to be and what is going to be enforced; will parents be made to follow the school model?’’
Mrs Jandesu said the draft regulations had not been researched and there had been little to no correspondence with homeschooling groups and families before the proposed changes were brought out for community consultation towards the end of December.
She said parents were giving up an income for their children and they went above and beyond for them.
‘‘There’s an assumption that homeschoolers are lefty-green types who lay around planting flowers — which is not true and often they are learning at a faster rate than their school peers,’’ Mrs Jandesu said.
‘‘We work really hard for our children and it isn’t easy; and anecdotally I don’t know any homeschooled child who has not gone on to tertiary education or straight into the workforce.
‘‘There are no guarantees if it (legislation) was passed they could not change homeschooling later on.’’
The Goulburn Valley Home School group is encouraging their families to write applications to the VRQA community consultation which closes on February 28.
‘‘I’m not sure what we can do but if we put enough pressure on politicians hopefully they will take note of our concerns,’’ Mrs Jandesu said.
Victorian Government Education Minister James Merlino said most homeschool families did a good job but they should always aim for improvement.
‘‘Whether that’s in the classroom or learning at home,’’ he said.
‘‘Requiring a learning plan and giving the VRQA powers to review a family’s arrangements for homeschooling are sensible steps forward that will make sure all children get the education they deserve while still leaving homeschooling families with considerable freedom.
‘‘These changes are not onerous and they are about putting the best interests of our children first and making sure they are getting a good education.’’
Homeschooling families will need to provide the VRQA with a learning plan which shows how they will meet eight learning areas (the arts; English; health and physical education (including sport); languages other than English; mathematics; science; studies of society and environment; and technology) when they begin homeschooling — they will not need to produce a new learning plan for every year.
Support will be provided to homeschooling families to create the plan, potentially including template plans.