Northland principals call for greater monitoring of homeschools

Helen Castles
Source: 1News

The rising popularity of home schooling has prompted calls for great checks and balances to be put in place to monitor the quality of education.

A young child playing with blocks (file).

Some education leaders want regular reviews re-introduced after they were abandoned a decade ago.

More than 10,000 students in New Zealand are now learning from home, but there is growing concern their learning methods aren’t being scrutinised.

“These families are not teachers," says Marilyn Dunn from Te Tai Tokerau Principals' Association.

“They’re doing it with the best of intentions, but if nobody is there supporting them and making sure the kids are getting what they need, then that makes it very difficult for when those children do return to school.”

“Often we’ll find there are huge gaps in their learning.”

The Education Review Office (ERO) stopped regular reviews in 2010 after finding home school practises were of good quality.

But some want the reviews reinstated as applications for home schooling grow.

There have been 5,000 new applications in the last year.

Kaitaia Primary School’s Principal, Brendon Morrissey, says “that’s a big number.”

“If we really want to have good, consistent education in our country, we do need to scrutinise a lot more.”

Home Schooling New Zealand says it’s happy to have more reviews but argues most parents do a good job.

"When a family chooses to reduce themselves to one income…because they’re not happy with what’s going on elsewhere, you need to understand they’re highly unlikely to take them home and do a worse job," says Home Schooling New Zealand Principal, Todd Roughton.

ERO told 1 News it’s taking a look at its processes in light of the surge of home schooling applications.

It’s speaking with parents about their reasons for homeschooling and the quality of their education.

ERO says the results from its investigation will be available next month.