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Queensland Drops Homeschooling Laws

by | Mon, Apr 22 2024

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The first attempt to more strictly regulate homeschooling in Australia has failed at the first hurdle. The Queensland Government has removed all anti-homeschooling provisions from an education reform bill currently before the State Parliament following extensive public opposition to the plans.

They sought to mandate that home education programs align with the national curriculum. Parents and caregivers would have been required to provide a summary of their planned home education program at the time of registering for homeschooling.

Answers in Genesis was one of many Chrisitian organisations to make a submission opposing the laws. It said: “We caution against any approach that ever requires parents to justify why home education is in a child’s best interests; casts home education as generally not in a child’s best interests; or leads to government overreach in determining what is in a child’s best interests in how home education occurs.”

Australia Christian Lobby CEO Michelle Pearse told Vision Radio: “This really does show the the power of grassroots activism. There were over 900 submissions and 23,000 people signed a petition asking the Queensland Government to take their hands off interfering with homeschoolers. The Queensland government has said, okay, we’ve heard the public, we understand the concerns and for now they won’t move forward on their plans.”

The homeschooling provisions were stripped from the bill on the same day that conservative advocacy group CitizenGo presented its petition to the office of the State Education Minister. It later warned: “The Queensland Government is talking about having more consultation on the matter, which likely means they still want to impose new rules on homeschooling families. We need to remain vigilant!”

Ms. Pearse observed: “People ask is it really worth signing a petition? Is it really worth sending that letter? Absolutely. It 100% is, even if they don’t read your email, they they see the number of emails that have come in about a certain issue. Submissions are a really powerful way to get your voice heard as well, even if it’s just something very simple that you put one paragraph, it tallies up the number of people that are opposed to a certain piece of legislation.

Last year 10,048 students were registered for home education in Queensland, up from 3411 in 2019. Nationally, 43,892 children were registered in 2023 – double the 21,966 students in 2019.

Queensland Education Minister Di Farmer had said a key part of the legislation would be the establishment of a new “guiding principle” that home education be in the best interests of the child or young person. “It is something I’m confident Queensland families and home educators will support. The bill also sets out that home education programs in Queensland must be consistent with the Australian Curriculum or Queensland syllabus, or senior subjects consistent with approaches in other jurisdictions,” the minister explained.

CitizenGo declared that: “State Governments are coming for homeschooling families.” It argued that the exponential growth in homeschooling “has terrified governments as, unlike in private and Catholic schools which are still subject to a woke national curriculum, the government cannot control what homeschooled children are taught. The sanctity of homeschooling stands as the last bastion of liberty to safeguard our children’s future.”

Home Education Australia (HEA) said the mandate could lead to more parents taking their homeschooling “underground”, meaning their children would not be registered with the regulatory body. HEA’s Samantha Bryan told Australian Associated Press (AAP) most families who are registered with the Home Education Unit were succeeding with homeschooling, even if they were not following the national curriculum.

“If children are already receiving a high-quality education, if the system’s not broken, why are we trying to allegedly fix it,” she queried, saying she would prefer an option for students to attend school part-time with more support for home-educating families. “Families are making great sacrifices because they desperately love and care about the well-being of their child. Some of these families would love to put their kids back in school, so I think a dual enrolment option – part-time home education, part-time school – would be great.”

Private homeschooling provider Euka already uses the Australian Curriculum as the basis of its program. Founder Ellen Brown said parents could still tailor their child’s education using the national curriculum. “If you’re a homeschooling family that prefers to learn in certain ways or about certain things, then they may not spend as much time on some topics as others. There’s still a lot of flexibility in the way a child can learn and the way a family can structure it. We don’t all have to do exactly the same thing,” she told AAP.