Friends of NCHENZ

March 10, 2009

What is this  “Friends of NCHENZ” category  ?

NCHENZ have 2 sorts of members :

1. Group membership – affiliated groups  $10 fee  or  $25 for incorporated group member

2. Individual members ($5 if the person also belongs to a member group otherwise $10)

 

We have an informal category called “Friends of NCHENZ”. “Friends of NCHENZ” groups are not joining NCHENZ. They are however acknowledging that they desire to work together in some way. They are willing to distribute information among their members.

For informal groups, for example email networks  that do not charge their members to belong, “Friends of NCHENZ” is an excellent place to start. The home educators within the network have an opportunity to learn what NCHENZ is doing, what we are about and also we appreciate if in turn there might be the odd thing that they can do to help us 🙂 eg put us in touch with adult home educators who will write something for our “after home education” webpages, alert us to an excellent article etc

Groups that charge for membership are welcome to become friends of NCHENZ as well. I think this way the group can learn what we are doing.

 The NCHENZ committee is  hopeful as the “friendship” develops that all our friends in time might consider becoming a member group. The group would need to decide ( in whatever way your groups makes decisions) to affiliate with NCHENZ  ie enter into a formal relationship).  The money could be donated by a few motivated people (ie you only need a 2 individual members of NCHENZ to give $5 towards the group’s membership and they get their $5 discount and so both are no worse off)  or perhaps  gold coins could be collected at one of the support meetings.

 

For example ASHE a South Auckland yahoo group ( which has no membership fees) is going to join: the moderator set up a poll  to check that the membership was happy. The $10 was donated.

Why would a group or an individual want to join when they can receive the information for free?

 Firstly we believe that when people begin to see what we are doing and what the money is used for, that they will want to contribute and join. Affliated group membership is only $10 a year,  eg your group has made a contribution to the running cost of our website where the group’s details are given a web presence.

Secondly we believe that home educators can unite to encourage, promote, inform and advance the cause of home education in New Zealand at a national level. Joining is a commitment to unite, to stand together.

Thirdly, as a service to your group’s members, who get a 50% reduction in their subscription if they join as an individual member. Those that join as individual members join a  NCHENZ Yahoo group for individual members where current issues are discussed and voted on.

Fourthly to contribute as a volunteer, perhaps you have something that would encourage, inform, promote or advance home education at a national level, perhaps NCHENZ is the vehicle that will support you to do this.

Forum for all NZ home educators

March 6, 2009

Luke is an home educating Dad from Auckland who has set up a network for New Zealand home educators. He will be moderating it and has experience in creating online communities.  It is a place where all the different home ed groups can put something about themselves. Individual home educators can also join the forum and can interact, ask questions, share resources etc.

What’s the point?
There are so many groups and it hard to know how they fit together. We hope this would become a focal point where everyone is listed in one place. A hub. It is an organic website so the whole thing will change to fit the needs of those who join.

I’ll give an example: I created a group for NCHENZ ( National Council of Home Educators) you can join “the group” on the website. This doesn’t mean you belong to NCHENZ but you can read what NCHENZ is about, ask questions, and explore then if you are interested in actually joining NCHENZ you would go to the NCHENZ website www.nchenz.org.nz and join.

I hope that local groups will put their info up there too,  so anyone moving can check out what is happening in their new area. Also those thinking about home ed can see what is going on.

In the general forum all those common questions will be answered and the not so common too.

So please consider joining us at
http://homeeducation.ning.com/
Welcoming all New Zealand home educators.

National Standards

March 4, 2009

 
Two committee members met recently with Associate Minister of Education, Heather Roy. As a result of this meeting several questions were put to the office of the Minister of Education on our behalf. A summary of the meeting and responses from the MOE are given below. Perhaps the most important response from MOE is that the proposed National Standards will not apply to homeschoolers.

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Marianne Wilson and Penny Bilton met with Heather Roy, Associate Minister of Education and ACT MP, on Wednesday 4 February. We passed on NCHENZ congratulations to the new ministers in the Education portfolio and our appreciation for ACT’s support for parent’s choice in education and support for home education. A special thanks was expressed to former ACT MP Deborah Coddington for her work on behalf of homeschoolers.

Heather reiterated ACTs total support for homeschoolers and her desire to see us get a better deal. ACT is pushing for a voucher system (by another name). Heather is committed to getting a working party up and running by the end of the year comprising a review of education with a view to more parent choice. She encouraged NCHENZ to present submissions to the working party. Heather herself will not be covering the homeschooling portfolio, this will be taken by Anne Tolley. Heather will have charge of Special Education. She responded positively to our request to be kept informed of changes to education policy which might affect us.

The National government’s policy “Youth Guarantee” is going to be implemented. Heather could not answer our question regarding raising the school leaving age.

The gaining of NCEA credits as an issue for some families was raised, especially those credits which are internally assessed. We raised the matter of the $1200 per subject for under 16’s to purchase curriculum from TCS. Heather indicated that the voucher system would cover this. NCHENZ suggested part-time school as a good option – attending school for one or two subjects such as science or metalwork. Currently the Act does not allow students to attend part-time or schools to charge fees to New Zealand citizens. Community education classes are available after
the age of 16 but these seldom are courses which give NCEA credits, and not the courses homeschoolers need. Heather indicated she would bring this issue to the Minister’s attention for consideration, and suggested that the “Youth Guarantee” policy might change the situation.

NCHENZ stressed the need for single parents on a benefit to retain their exemption from work requirements while they are homeschooling. We indicated the need of some teenage students for continuing adult supervision and that staying home alone to do their work was not optimal. Heather was not aware of this issue but seemed sympathetic to our cause. The productiveness and commitment of single homeschooling parents is recognized by ACT.

We expressed NCHENZ opposition to our students being subject to the National Standards regime and presented these arguments. Many of our students have special abilities or needs or other reasons why they were taken out of school. Many parents use alternative educational methods which suit their children better and are often linked to the child’s development or learning style. i.e. we don’t want late bloomers or kinetic learners branded as failures. Heather explained that the results of testing children would be used to compare teachers and schools rather than as a reflection upon the achievement of the individual child. She suggested that we liaise with ERO, since we have a good relationship with them, to find out where the consultancy process is at, and how we can contribute to it.

In conclusion, NCHENZ affirmed homeschooling parents as being highly committed and that our children invariable turn out to be well adjusted and productive members of society. ACT is aware of this. We consider homeschooling to be a win/win situation – our students get their needs met, the government saves money, schools have fewer students to teach, and teachers have fewer special ability/needs children in their classrooms.

Heather expressed willingness to assist us where needed, but encouraged a first approach made to the government agency concerned – political pressure from a minister being a last resort.

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Responses from the MOE

Susan Arcus, Heather Roy’s secretary, put these question to the Minister of Education’s office on our behalf.

 
Does the Youth Guarantee Policy mean the school leaving age has been raised?
No, Youth Guarantee does not raise the school leaving age.


·   Currently there is an exemption for single parents on a benefit to stay at home if they are home-schooling their children, which applies til the child is 16.  Will this be raised to 17 so that a parent does not have to apply for an exemption in line with the Youth Policy Guarantee?

 Home schooling is not affected.         

        
·       According to the Education (National Standards) Amendment Act 2008, there are to be National Standards (rather tests) for literacy and numeracy at certain stages of a child’s schooling career.  NCHENZ do not feel it is appropriate to test home-schooled children as it feels that these tests are focused on schools and needing the ability to compare themselves against other school, which does not apply to home-schooled children, and would like this to be noted.

The National Standards apply to all state schools. The standards will not affect those students who are exempt from enrolment in a state school, such as students who are home schooled, and will not affect students enrolled in private schools, as the National Education Guidelines do not apply.

NCHENZ has concerns with the cost of enrolling children in the Correspondence School to gain certain NCEA qualifications (starting at $800 per subject, this is not insignificant).  There seems to be disparity when those over 20 years of age can receive this at a minimal cost.

This last point has been noted ( in addition to the issue of homeschoolers having access to secondary schools for one or two subjects).

Home Education Parents’ exemption from work requirements?

February 16, 2009

For your interest, here (in pdf form) is  the reply from Paula Bennett’s office to a member’s email regarding the retaining of home educationing parents  exemption from work requirements for beneficiaries.

More on The Correspondence School

February 15, 2009

NCHENZ is delighted that the confusion regarding the status of home educated students enrolling under the Young Adult category at The Correspondence school (TCS) have now been resolved: home educators, once they turn 16, can go for NCEA qualifications via TCS at home for free.

A number of home educators were able to work together to resolve the difficulties, including the NCHENZ committee, Craig Smith (director of Home Education Foundation and member of NCHENZ) and some individual home educators. NCHENZ would like to thank home educators who made us aware that TCS was asking the home educated students to give up their exemptions including a member of AHE who contacted me directly. Thank you to Penny Bilton, (NCHENZ chairperson) and Marianne Wilson (NCHENZ committee member and former chairperson of NCHENZ) who flew from Auckland to Palmerton North and met with officials and Heather Roy Associate Education Minister.

I have included Craig Smith’s report for more details. I would urge home educators to know the law regarding our exemptions. Here is a link to section 21 in the Education Act. Our exemptions expire when the student turns 16 years or when a child returns to school. The Ministry of Education continues to pay the homeschool allowance up to age 19 on the basis of our declaration that we are still home educating. 

 Craig Smith writes

“Getting our home educated 16 year olds into the Young Adult (YA) scheme recently opened by The NZ Correspondence School (TCS) has caused a few issues recently. (The YA scheme gives 16, 17, 18 and 19 year olds, who are not enrolled in another school, TCS lessons free of charge. That is, home educators, once they turn 16, can go for NCEA qualifications to get into Polytech, University, Air Force and other places via TCS at home for free.) I talked to one mum who had been given the royal run-around at both TCS and the MoE. She spoke to five people at TCS, two who said it was no problem, three who said she had to ensure her 16-year-old’s exemption was cancelled. She got similar treatment at MoE and still didn’t know what to do.  

“Well, it turns out that TCS was labouring under the mistaken notion that home educators with exemptions retained these exemptions until the 1st of January after their 19th birthdays. I dare say some home educators thought this as well. After all, doesn’t the MoE continue to pay out the home education allowance until the 1st of January after their 19th birthdays? Yes, they do, but in fact, the exemptions are cancelled automatically by law on the 16^th birthday. The MoE, out of the goodness of their hearts, bless them, according to a policy they adopted way back in 1989, do continue to pay out the home education allowance, even though the exemption is cancelled. They do this solely based on the home educator’s response on the statutory declaration in relation to the young person who has reached the age of 16.

“I had a very friendly chat with Kathryn Sweet, Enrolment Services Manager at TCS on Wednesday 4 February. She had just been made aware of Section 21(8)(a) of the Education Act, a bit that was added by the infamous Education Legislation Amendment Bill (No 2) of 1998, which was nearly totally ignored and overlooked from then until now.1 Sure enough, this bit says an exemption granted under Section 21 is automatically cancelled when the exempted person turns 16 or enrols in a registered school, whichever comes first. “The confusion was happening because when TCS (which is a registered school, by the way) checked the enrolment status of home educators who applied for the YA scheme at age 16, 17, 18 or 19, they found that home educators of this age were still listed by the MoE as exempted from enrolment. One cannot be exempted from enrolment in a registered school (as home educators are) and enrolled at a registered school (as TCS is) at the same time. It was for this reason of logic that TCS has recently been giving home educators a hard time about enrolling them. The MoE listed home educators aged 16 and over as exempted for their own administrative purposes, when in fact, according to Section 21(8)(a) of the Education Act, their exemptions were cancelled and no longer valid. “This confusion has now been cleared up. There should be no trouble with home educators or anyone else aged 16, 17, 18 or 19 enrolling in TCS.  

“ Now the question is, once my home educated 16-year-old or over is enrolled with TCS, can we still continue to receive the home education allowance from the MoE? This is an internal policy decision of the MoE which they are going to have to iron out themselves. Home educators who have rung and/or emailed the MoE about this have been told a variety of things. To date, I have been unable to contact the correct people in order to get a definitive answer. “For what it is worth, TCS students who have been full-time with TCS do continue to receive the TCS supervisory allowance (a similar allowance to the home education allowance, but not exactly the same in either amount or perceived purpose) until the 1^st of January after their 19^th birthdays as long as they remain full-time TCS students and return assignments regularly. “ There was another area of confusion. School students aged 15 who got early release exemptions under Section 22 of the Education Act are allowed to get into TCS YA scheme. Wording on the MoE website does not specify that */_only_/* 15-year-olds with Section 22 early release exemptions can get into the YA scheme, but only mentions exempted students…which would seem to allow home educators of any age. Well, Kathryn Sweet of TCS was one of the negotiators with MoE when that policy was devised, and is adamant that the intention was only to include early release exemptions under Section 22. She is working to tighten up the wording on the website.  

There was talk in 2008 about raising the school-leaving age or somehow ensuring 16 through 18-year-olds were still on the MoE books and either in school or work or some kind of training. It was Labour’s “School Plus” scheme. They were also going to repeal Section 22 and get rid of all early release exemptions forevermore. The Bill proposing this apparently sank out of sight along with Labour at the elections. However, the new Government is still formulating its own policies, deciding what Bills it will introduce. John Key has already mentioned his “Youth Guarantee” scheme, the details of which are still hazy, but the idea being 16 and 17-year-olds would get free access to further education and training via a range of options. Stay tuned for further developments. Notes: 1. The infamous Education Legislation Amendment Bill (No 2) of 1998 made many changes, but the ones home educators were concerned about at the time were the increased powers given to ERO Reviewers. These are now in Sections 323, 324 and 328 of the Education Act. The wee bit about exemptions being cancelled, now Section 21(8)(a), was in another part of the Bill and consequently was mostly ignored at the time and ever since because of the scary nature of the powers being given to ERO in the Bill. The vast majority of submissions, both written and in person, on this Bill were by home educators. The Hansard comments of the day show various MPs had some very complimentary things to say about home educators as a result of their submissions. See /TEACH Bulletin /No. 19 of August 1998 or Hansard of 23 June 1998.. *Craig & Barbara Smith*

Government looking at DPB work requirements

December 31, 2008

The Government is looking at reviewing the work requirement for those on the DPB.
Currently a parent or guardian is exempt from Work and Income work tests  obligations if they are home schooling a dependent child or a foster child. 
http://www.nchenz.org.nz/government_liaison/work_and_income.htm 

One member wrote “This is a very personal issue for me since being a solo parent on the DPB has helped me continue homeschooling and provided security for my children during difficult years for them.”

You read a letter from Paula Bennett to a blogger “Kiwi Polemicist” 
http://kiwipolemicist.wordpress.com/2008/12/22/will-national-force-homeschooling-beneficiaries-to-go-to-work/
http://kiwipolemicist.files.wordpress.com/2008/12/paula-bennett-letter-22-12-08.pdf
Herald on the release of the proposed policy
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/winz/news/article.cfm?o_id=247&objectid=10526497
and the Policy is here
http://national.org.nz/Article.aspx?ArticleId=28386
The requirement would be 15 hours of work.

We hope that the Government will continue to exempt parents or guardians who are homeschooling from these requirements.

You may like to email Paula Bennett or the Ministers of Education ( follow the links to be taken to the Beehive pages where an email address is provided).

The Correspondence School- Keeping your exemption

December 31, 2008

NCHENZ has had feedback that a number of homeschooled students this year have been told that they have to give up their exemption if they enrol in classes at TCS in the young adult category.  

 Homeschooled students do not have to give up their exemption. They are not enrolling in TCS, just as an adult student is not enrolling, because they are not eligible to enrol. The adult and the young adult student are purchasing tuition ie Caregivers who homeschool under the Ministry of Education can purchase courses provided by the Correspondence School as part of their child’s education programme (see also here on the WINZ website).

Published on our website is  a helpful guide to enrolling at the Correspondence School.

A link of interest

November 5, 2008

Statistics on the number of NZ home educated students

The Correspondence School and Home School Exemption

November 5, 2008

One of our members wrote

“Yesterday I heard of another person who had been (incorrectly) told by the NZ Correspondence School that they had to give up their HE cert.

The MoE says that we don’t have to, as we are still supervising the kid’s studies, but sometimes NZCS staff can’t get past the thought that a kid can’t be at school and enrolled as an adult with them “so therefore” the kid must leave the (home)school to be able to enroll. – Wrong. Our kids “left school” at 6 yo (or whatever), and our home is not a school. (For the question “When did you leave school?” – My kids usu put something like, “I have never been to school.”)

Please pass this info around to as many people (or email lists) as possible, so that no other HEers unnecessarily lose their exemptions. ”

I quote from the NCHENZ informational web-pages
“Homeschooled students keep their exemptions as they are not enrolled in the school, they are purchasing curriculum, and their parents are still eligible for the homeschool supervisory allowance.
We recommend you keep your exemption active as long as possible, since new exemptions are not granted to students over 15 yrs, and once it lapses it will not be reactivated.” see NCHENZ web-page here

see this page also ( although it is from WINZ regarding work requirements it spells out the policy

“2. Partners who home school under the Ministry of Education can purchase courses provided by the Correspondence School as part of their child’s education programme.”

National Party’s Education Policy

October 31, 2008

“Of interest to us [NCHENZ] is the National Party’s policy on education, which plans to introduce a national curriculum and standardised testing of primary and intermediate students.

”We assume that homeschoolers will be exempt from such testing since we have exemptions from school attendance granted by the MoE. Homeschooling parents use a wide variety of educational methods which are chosen to suit the specific needs of the student. Home educating parents are highly motivated, and that our varying methods produce well educated children is verified by our excellent results from ERO reviews.

”Prior to the election, can you please reassure our members and contacts throughout NZ that home educators will continue to have the right to choose the educational method which best suits their family, without being subject to a standardised curriculum or testing?

”Kind Regards
Tarnya Burge
committee member NCHENZ

 

 

Here is Judith Collins reply

 

Tarnya

First of all it’s important to note it’s not national testing. It’s about setting benchmarks/national standards about where children should be at a particular age or time spent at school, and then picking up those children who are not achieving the standards and supporting them to achieve them.

ERO will be focused on these standards in all schools and also for home schooling, but the extra support will only be available to state schools. So as and when ERO evaluates homeschoolers, as they currently do, it will be focused on those literacy and numeracy standards.

Regards

Judith Collins