Homeschooling in Australia
History of Education in Australia
Education in Australia
began with the one teacher school. Because of the sparse population there were
not enough children to separate them by grades. All the children studied in the
one room from their own textbooks.
The day started with the
teacher in the one-teacher school writing the name of each child in the school
on the blackboard. Next to each name was the title and pages of books the
teacher wanted the child to complete for the day. The children would quietly
work though their own books. This was possible because their textbooks were
self-instructional, that is the book contained the explanations, the questions
and the answers.
If the child did not
understand something he would raise his hand and the teacher would come and
help. There was no teaching in the school; the teacher was the person who wrote
the book. If the child had a dozen books written by a dozen different authors
then the child had a dozen teachers. If a second child asked for help and the
teacher was busy an older student, who was given the title "classroom
monitor", would go and help the younger child. This was how the next
generation of teachers were trained, not by going to
university but by on the job training in the classroom during their time as a
Graded schools only came
about because of the shortage of teachers after the Second World War and the
large increase in students due to the baby boom. In the 1950�s half of all
primary schools in Australia
were one-teacher schools. The governments of the day also reasoned that it
would be cheaper to run a school if the students were separated by age.
The next big change in
schools occurred in the 1990�s when smaller schools were closed or amalgamated
with others to form super schools all in the name of saving money, not because
it was better for the students.
The school inspector would
visit the school regularly. He was not there to inspect the school but to
inspect the students. The inspector would ask the head-teacher if there were
any students ready for the Upper Primary School Certificate. He would then take
the student aside, test him, and then issue him with a certificate that allowed
him to attend secondary school. The Certificate was not based on the number of
years in school but based on knowledge.
This is how the home
school operates. It is a one-teacher school with all the children of different
ages working together in one room at there own rate and with self-instructional
material. A homeschooled child cannot fail. If the
child does not know something he can stay with it until he masters it. If he is
a brighter child, rather than allowing him to advance a grade, he can be given
more work at the same level to extend him. This will not disadvantage the
child. If he is given books by different authors one may cover something the
other left out or may look at the topic from a different point of view giving
the child a more rounded education.
A typical homeschooling day
material children in primary school should be working about 1� hours per day,
or 2� hours with break leading to 2� to 3 hours per day for secondary students
for their academic books. This may not seem like a lot compared to school but
we know by testing homeschooled children they are
learning more than twice as much as their schooled counterparts. A half hour
lesson in school may consist of ten minutes set up time, ten minutes teaching
time and ten minutes pack up time. Two hours concentrated study at home can
easily equate to six hours, or a full day�s school. Home schooled children use
two to three times as may books as children in school.
Constitution does not allow the Commonwealth to make laws with regard to
education. Education in Australia
is therefore a state responsibility. Although the laws differ in each state
with regard to detail every state and territory only require
a child to attend school. There is no legal requirement for a child to be
taught anything. The reason for this is to stop parents from suing schools and
schoolteachers for failing to teach their children.
Since there are no
standards there are no set courses. Each school has had to write its own. This
has resulted in secondary schools not teaching children anything new in the
first year because the new students have come from several primary schools with
differing standards of achievement and contents for the core subjects. As a homeschooling parent you do not have to worry if your child
is being taught what he should or if he is keeping up. There are no standards
to be met.
When the Education Act were first enacted homeschooling
was not envisioned and therefore there is no specific provision for it in most
states or it has been put in as an added extra. The law is not very clear about
home schooling and in some cases ambiguous.
The Magistrates have made
some interesting comments with regard to homeschooling
over the years in the handful of truancy cases that have come before the courts.
"I find the parents
guilty of breaking letter of the law but I award no penalty or conviction
because they have complied with the intent of the law, that
is they are teaching their children." Qld.
"From my reading of
the Education Act children are only required to attend school. There is no
requirement for children to be taught. Therefore the NSW Board of studies
cannot ask anything of parents who wish to homeschool."
"The Education Act is
not about teaching children, only knowing where they are, that is they are
attending school. Because the children were with their parents during the time
of the alleged offence I consider attending home to be equivalent to attending
Because the laws are
different in each state parents need to read the law
for themselves if they are concerned about the legal status of homeschooling. For those families who have access to the
Internet copies of the relevant legislation may be found at www.austlii.edu.au
In Victoria truancy laws are also covered by the Community Services Act in
addition to the Education Act.