I’ve been a registered homeschooler in NSW for 17 years. And I’d like to give you some tips to help you get your registration documents prepared and hopefully answer a few of the questions you have.
Find out about homeschooling NSW
- part-time homeschooling NSW
- how to remove your children from school
- can I get a HSC when I homeschool ?
- homeschooling NSW registration requirements
- Tips for writing your homeschool registration documents.
The NSW Education Standards Austority (NESA) states 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. Having said that some homeschoolers do not register as they feel it is a parent’s right to educate their children.
Many people investigating homeschooling NSW can feel a little daunted when they look at the requirements put out by the NESA. It’s really not as scary as many think.
Disclaimer: This is not legal advice but information from my own research and experience.
Part Time Homeschooling NSW
Whilst I do know that you can homeschool in some other states part-time, in NSW, in the primary years this is not an option. However if you wish to do the HSC part-time this can be an option using the Pathways HSC program over 4 years. You will need to negotiate this with individual schools.
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. If your child is distressed or feels unsafe you don’t have to leave them in the school so some parents get a one month 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). If you anticipate having problems can 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.
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. My four children started university without a HSC and there are many others we know who went to university without a HSC, including courses like medicine, engineering and music.
Register To Homeschool in NSW
Before you register your child for home education I suggest you 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.
Download your homeschool application form from NESA .
The AP (approved person from the NESA who will come to your home) 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. Whilst the application does state you need to fill these forms in three months prior, in reality I’ve never heard of someone whose registration took that long.
The official requirements for NSW homeschooling registration can be found on the NESA .
Note: Application for Exemption . One option is to apply for an exemption. This is really not an exemption at all. You still need to fill in the exact same things for both procedures and get approval in the same way. But still it is a personal conviction that makes parents choose this path.
How long can I get registration for? It is BOSTES policy for new homeschoolers to only get 6 to12 months approval.
Preparing Your Documents For NSW Homeschooling Registration
Documentation can be a little daunting and some new homeschoolers go completely overboard when making their first homeschool plan. I’ve helped quite a few friends get their paperwork organised for homeschooling NSW registration and it’s only taken a few days but their program usually changes over the first 12 months as they learn more about homeschooling and their child’s needs and educational interests. They have had no trouble getting registration approval. Unfortunately I can’t do your paperwork for you but I have written this guide to help you write your own.
You Will Need A Basic Understanding the NESA Syllabus or Australian Curriculum
Plan using Key Learning Areas (KLAs).
For Primary the KLA’s 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).
KLAs In High school
For Year 7 to 10 you need to cover 6 KLAs.
- Human Society and its Environment (HSIE) – History & Geography (Please note these subjects both need to be taught over a 2 year period but they don’t have to be taught at the same time. For example you could teach geography one year and history the next if you desired).
Electives Subjects (you can choose to study 2 of the 4 other subjects in the syllabus).
- Creative and practical arts
- Foreign Language
- Design and Technology
NSW Planning Ideas
To plan your syllabus you can use:
- Stage Statements (which are summaries of the content for each subject set into 2 year periods aka. stages. Good for a copy and paste documentation but not so good for understanding. )
- Syllabus Outcomes (I don’t recommend this method. It’s really for school teachers not homeschoolers and it’s complicated).
- Syllabus Content (I find this the best way to work out what is expected).
I know many of you are starting to think this is all too hard (unless your a teacher or planning fanatic and this excites you). So here are a few options.
1. My Homeschool Complete Syllabus
My homeschool is a complete syllabus for Australian homeschoolers where we have done all the planning and linking to the syllabus for you. Find out more here.
2. Use NESA Syllabus or The Australian Curriculum To Plan
NOTE: Because the NESA syllabus is set out over a 2 year period it is often hard to work out what to do in one year. This is why I prefer to plan using the Australian Curriculum.
If you think you must match the NESA syllabus exactly, do not fret. The difference between the NESA syllabus and the Australian Curriculum is minimal. You will probably find planning with the Australian Curriculum easier.
Here is a quote taken from the NSW Home Schooling Registration Package 2017:
“the educational program is based on and taught in accordance with the relevant NESA syllabuses ”
Since the NSW syllabus is based on the Australian Curriculum, differences are minimal and your program only needs to be based on the NESA syllabus which is, as mentioned, based on the Australian Curriculum anyway.
These guides will help you familiarise yourself with the NESA syllabus & the Australian Curriculum.
You will need to have made some decisions on what curriculum you want to use and you will have to have some of it to show the AP. Please only buy a few things for now. You do not need to show them everything you have on the visit just enough to show you have started.
If you are using set curriculum like ACE with lots of American content the main thing you need to remember is that you need Australian content in your curriculum. It will still be helpful for you to know the syllabus because you will be asked questions about it from the AP.
Your Written Plan
You need to show the NESA assessor (AP) a written plan of what you intend to learn in your homeschool. NESA don’t take the documents that you prepare and they usually only spend a few minutes looking at it. They don’t use it for a reference when you apply the next time either. It is really just a tool to show them that you have thought your educational program through.
To help you get organised I suggest you make your own homeschool planner.
- Write out your plan referring to each subject (KLA). It can be as simple as what textbook you might be using. If it’s your first time then the plan only needs to be for one year. If you are reregistering then it needs to be for two years. You do not need to follow your worked out plan exactly. It is your starting point. You will find as you homeschool it will change as you work out the needs of your homeschool students. You just need something to show the AP. It doesn’t matter if it’s not perfect. You can perfect it as you work out what works for your child after registration. The sample plans below are based on plans I have shown for registration.
- Kindergarten Homeschool Planning Form
- Year One Homeschool Planning Form
- Year Two Homeschool Planning Form
- Year Three – Four Homeschool Planning Form
- Year Five – Six Homeschool Planning Form
- Make a term planner at the beginning of each term. It shows what we are hoping to achieve for each child that term. I write in how many pages of the maths textbook I want to cover, what read alouds we will be doing, what copywork and dictation I hope to achieve. I do this for each subject. It is only a brief note but quite specific. I type this up as a table on Microsoft Word and save it so that I can review my work at the end of term and use this document as the basis for my end of term report. See Term Planning Records
- Make a schedule, don’t make a timetable. Record the basic pattern of your week and what you hope to achieve. I do not ever record specific school hours. Instead I work from a basic routine. We run on a four term schedule. Term times run closely along with those of the NSW schools, as this works well for other scheduled holiday activities. At times we do vary when certain situations arise. Home education is a lifestyle and it happens far beyond the boundaries of 9-3. You will need to shift the way you look at learning and see what your children are naturally learning. Record what you achieved and don’t get sucked into hours of schooling just for the sake of it. You will find you can achieve much more in a shorter space of time than schools. Don’t feel guilty about that–enjoy it! Student Term Schedule Sample
Begin A Record Of Learning
You will need to show a record of learning and I believe the best way to do this is using a portfolio and a term report. I have never kept a diary in my 17 years of registered homeschooling.
If this is your first time homeschooling then you can tell your AP of your intention to use a portfolio to record your child’s learning. Portfolios are an excellent keepsake and a helpful documentation tool.
In your portfolio you can put:
- work samples from each KLA.
- certificates obtained
Make a Term Report And Forget About Daily Diaries
I do this at the end of each term. The electronic version of the Term Planner that was commenced at the beginning of the term is resurrected and filled in with what has actually been achieved. Page numbers, chapters, specific book narrations, field trips and unit studies are added. Also I put in the extra learning things that I can remember for the term such as specific DVDs watched and other projects usually associated with their hobbies.
I have never kept a daily diary and although AP suggest it you do not need to do it. Some of my friends have started one but they quickly abandon them and use checklists or date work. You will find that it becomes a tedious strain on your homeschool day. It really is good enough to keep a term report going. If you think that you will forget events attended then write that into a calendar and refer to it when you are writing up a term report.
After documenting what we have achieved I make sure I give an assessment of how I think each child is progressing. I also mention what they are struggling with and what their interests and strengths are and what subjects may need attention. This is very important for the registration process as the assessors usually want to see that you are assessing their progress. It is also helpful if you decide to enrol your child in school at a later date.
See my sample of Sample Term Report