My 2021 Unofficial Guide To Homeschooling in NSW
If you want to try homeschooling in NSW you are following a growing trend. More and more families are taking up the challenge, especially after they gave it a go during the Covid 19 lock downs.
According to NESA (NSW Education Standards Authority) homeschooling in NSW numbers rose by nearly 20% in 12 months. There are now more that 7000 families registered in NSW for homeschooling.
If you’ve looked at the official documentation for homeschooling in NSW you might be overwhelmed by all the gobbledegook! Don’t worry. It’s not as complicated as they make it sound.
Let me put your mind at ease, demystify the process and break down the esoteric language into words regular folk like us understand.
Quick Links to NSW Homeschooling Information
Legal Requirements For Homeschooling In NSW
If you are an Australian Citizen or permanent resident who lives in NSW then it is a legal requirement to register to homeschool from ages 6 to 16, if your child is not enrolled in distance education, or at a school.
Do You HAVE To Register?
Well there are always exceptions to the rule. Yes you are supposed to but if you are a temporary resident, or have no NSW address then you cannot register to homeschool in NSW. For example a friend who’s children were NZ residents could have registered but didn’t. It was a grey area. I’ve also had people contact me who are living overseas temporarily (or travelling) try to get registered and they have been refused.
However, if you try to register because you want to go travelling then you will probably be knocked back. NSW homeschool registration does not cover extended travel (6 months travelling around Australia as an example). NESA says this is because you are of “no fixed address” and they cannot “approve” your educational facilities. They do online meetings these days so not sure how they are ‘approving your educational facility’ anyway. 😮
NESA suggests that you do distance education while travelling (which I wouldn’t suggest at all, it’s very restrictive – this is the unofficial guide after all). Because of this silly rule many homeschoolers choose not to inform the NESA about their travelling plans. Another state registration homeschooling body suggested to one homeschooling family that since they were of no fixed address while travelling that they didn’t need to be registered in a particular state. I’m not one to set out to break the law but that’s an interesting interpretation I could live with.
After homeschooling in NSW for nearly 20 years I know there are plenty of families who don’t register for various reasons. However it can be difficult/impossible to get some Centrelink payments without registration documentation.
By the way this isn’t legal advice. I’m just sharing what I’ve observed. If you need more information on this, I suggest you try the HEA; they deal with all the complicated questions and they have heard most scenarios before.
Register For Homeschooling in NSW
Before you register your child for home education, get your documentation ready and find out the basics of how to homeschool. Planning your curriculum requires thought and there is a great deal of information and resources to absorb.
If you are in a hurry to register and want to get the process started immediately then send in your forms but you will need to start working out your documentation and resources immediately.
The AP (approved person from the NESA) usually contacts you 2 – 3 weeks after you send in your application and they will want to make an appointment within a week or two. The application does say you need to allow three months prior, in reality I’ve never heard of someone whose registration took that long. Since COVID restrictions all of the meetings have been done online.
There are two forms; one for initial registration and one for re-registration. Send off your form appropriate to your situation.
✔ yes to all the requirements for an AP meeting such as:
- Educational Plan based on the NESA syllabus (You will need to prepare one. More on this down the page).
- A plan for the next educational period (Same as above really)
- Record of progress (or plan for one)
- Records of time allocated to learning. Note: With regards to time allocated to learning, it helps to know the legislation here – NSW Education Act 1990 section 14.4 states that NESA can suggest an amount of time, but not make it mandatory. So as a homeschooler you can say that they are always learning. Here is the direct quote: “Any syllabus developed or endorsed by the Board [NESA] for a particular course of study may indicate generally the period of time that should be allocated to the teaching of the course, but is not to make a specific period of time mandatory. “
- Sufficient resources for learning. (You’ll need to have resources to show).
The application forms and official requirements for homeschooling in NSW can be found on the NESA website .
Application for Exemption
I sometimes ticked this option just because I wanted to see what happened. Nothing is the answer. It is really not an exemption at all. It just means your name doesn’t go on the registration list. You still need to fill in the exact same things and get approval in the same way. But still it is a personal conviction that makes parents choose this path. For me it was more of a protest vote.
How Long Can I Get Registered For Homeschooling In NSW?
It is NESA policy for new homeschoolers to only get 6 to12 months approval. After initial registration you can be registered for up to 2 years.
FAQ – Homeschooling in NSW
Can I Homeschool Part Time in NSW?
Part time homeschooling is not an option in NSW.
When Can I Remove My Kids from School?
Theoretically you are supposed to wait until your registration is approved. This process can take a month to three months (but usually it’s less than a month). However, many parents remove their child before their homeschool registration has been officially approved. Some parents get a doctor’s certificate for stress leave for their child until registration is approved.
Many schools can be quite supportive of homeschooling and will leave the door open for you to return if homeschooling doesn’t work out. However, some parents report having problems with the school administration (they lose funding and possibly a teacher when you leave).
You need to know that schools don’t have any power to stop you from homeschooling. (It’s a legitimate option).
You do not need to show the school proof that you are homeschooling although some schools will be quite insistent they are given documentation. If you anticipate having problems, I suggest you mention as little as possible to the school and get your registration application in ASAP. If you move, don’t leave a forwarding address with the school.
How Much Does Homeschooling Cost In NSW?
It is free to apply for homeschooling in NSW, however you don’t get paid to homeschool
Some people are eligible for Centerlink payments such as Newstart (with a no work exemption) and the Isolated Children’s benefit scheme. You can find more information about those payments here.
Then there is the cost of curriculum. You can do it on a shoestring and you can go crazy expensive. Here are some things to think about with when trying to work out the real cost of homeschooling.
For example: if you were to use My Homeschool for one primary grade the cost would be approximately $650 for the year. This includes the additional books you would need to purchase. That’s a lot cheaper than private school tuition!
Can I Get A Higher School Certificate When I Homeschool?
When you choose to homeschool you can’t get a HSC, however your children can study for a HSC alternative.
All four of my children went to university at 16 without an HSC. One is a medical doctor. Another did a diploma, skipped the degree and finished his Masters in 3D animation. He now works full time for a film company. Another works for an NGO in communications after finishing her degree and the fourth will finish her Business degree in 2022. I’m no special case. Many homeschooled children go on to tertiary study without a HSC.
What if My Child Has Special Need?
Many parents who are homeschooling have children with special needs. NESA allows you to adapt your curriculum to suit your child’s needs.
Preparing Your Documents For NSW Homeschooling Registration
To prepare a homeschool plan need a basic understanding of the NSW syllabus.
To do this you can use:
- NSW Syllabus Outcomes (I don’t recommend this method. It’s really for school teachers not homeschoolers and it’s complicated gobbledegook for most of us).
- NSW Syllabus Content (I find this the best way to work out what is expected). It is much easier to use the Australian Curriculum for content planning as it is set out in one year blocks. And if you are only planning for a one year registration it’s hard to know what to actually incorporate.
- NSW Stage Statements (are summaries of the content for each subject set into 2 year periods. You can use them as part of your documentation but it probably won’t help with planning). Like me when I look at them you probably think what on earth does that mean I have to teach. They are really vague. Nevertheless some people like how vague they are because it means they can pretty much ignore them and just teach what they want. I see the merit in that!
Documentation can be a little daunting and some new homeschoolers go completely overboard when making their first homeschool plan. I’ve helped quite a lot of homeschoolers get their paperwork organised for registration and it’s only taken a few days. And we’ve also done most of the prep to help you through this process.
I just wanted to say thank you for all the effort that’s been put into My Homeschool! I had my AP visit yesterday and it went great! He’s giving me 12 months registration and said if he comes next year and I’m still using the My Homeschool curriculum then he’ll give two years, even for my kindy child who’ll be a new registration. Thank you so much for helping make this transition to homeschooling so much easier and providing such detailed documents. I’m truly grateful!
NSW Syllabus Or Australian Curriculum For Planning?
When documenting your plan for registration NESA Home Schooling package states your plan only needs to be based on the NSW syllabus. You don’t need to follow it identically. It needs only to be BASED ON the state syllabus, so if you find the Australian Curriculum easier to read than your state syllabus that is fine.
Therefore you can use either when planning your documentation for registration because the NSW syllabus and the Australian Curriculum have the same content. The Stage Statement and Achievement statements are also very similar.
I like using the Australian curriculum for planning. Here’s why:
- the Australian Curriculum has less information and is therefore easier to absorb. Much of the information given with the NSW BOSTES Syllabus is not needed for homeschooling.
- the Australian Curriculum website is easier to navigate. It also provides PDFs on each subject for you to print off which includes syllabus content and achievement standards.
- the Australian curriculum is easier to understand because you don’t need to sort through all the elaborations and outcomes to get to the content .
- sharing information with other homeschoolers from different states is easier when the same reference point is used.
- Understanding the Australian Curriculum will help tick the boxes with regards to NSW homeschool registration but it is my hope that you will also be inspired to provide a generous curriculum—one that is broad in its content, generous in its substance and not limited by the constraints of a set syllabus.
So next time someone tells you that you can’t plan using the Australian Curriculum you will be able to politely tell them that they are incorrect.
You can say your homeschool plan is based on the NSW Syllabus because the Australian Curriculum is what the NSW Syllabus is based on.
Knowledge is power!
If you want to research this more here is a comprehensive article on NSW and the Australian Curriculum.
What Are The Subjects I Need To Teach
You also need to incorporate the following subjects into your homeschool plan.
Key learning areas in primary are:
- Science and Technology
- Human Society and its Environment (Includes history, geography and civics)
- Creative and Practical Arts (Includes dancing and music)
- Personal Development, Health and Physical Education – PDHPE (includes health information and sport)
- Languages (This is an optional subject for homeschoolers).
Key learning areas in high school (7 to 10) are:
- Human Society and its Environment (HSIE) – History, Geography, Civics and Politics.
Electives Subjects you can choose to study 2 of the 4 other subjects in the syllabus.
- Creative and practical arts
- Design and Technology
Can You Do The Registration Plan For Me?
There are no generic plans that you can just print off and submit. However, some people offer a planning registration service that will cost you a few hundred dollars.
If you become a member of Home Education Australia they will give you some very basic templates.
In all circumstances you will need to be a part of the planning process because all plans need to be individualised for your child. When you have your registration visit you need to know what is in the plan and discuss how you are going to teach it.
At My Homeschool we do not do your plans for you. Instead we provide a Registration Planning Course and give you templates with an outcome linked scope and sequence for each of our grades. These are only useful to you if you are using our courses. We’ve done about 75% of the work .
My Homeschool is a curriculum package for Australian homeschoolers that has been successfully used for registration for thousands of children around Australia.
We have done most of the planning and linking to the syllabus for you. You just need to add specifics for your child.
We got the ‘go ahead’ for our first year of homeschooling from the Assessor today and he said that he gave us a full year to start us off because he was, and I quote, “Very impressed with the level of detail” I was able to provide him with and that is thanks to Myhomeschool!!
I love the weekly schedule so much, Jo – I know they will make the organisational side of my week much less of a task.
NSW Registration Video
Here’s my Youtube video about the registration process for homeschooling in NSW.
Home visits have stopped during Covid but planning and submission of documentation is basically the same. Many people are using Google Docs to share their rego plans with their AP.
Video Length: 20 mins
Please give it a thumbs up if it helped you 🙂