The Unofficial Guide To Homeschooling in NSW 2021
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 lock downs. According to NESA (NSW Education Standards Authority) homeschooling in NSW numbers rose by nearly 20% from 2019 to 2020. There are now more than 7000 families registered in NSW for homeschooling.
All four of my children were homeschooled in NSW. For 18 years I prepared registration applications for my own children and helped others. I wrote this guide for those of you homeschooling in NSW to help you with your application. Through My Homeschool we continue to help home educators in NSW and around Australia with their homeschool registration.
Let me put your mind at ease, demystify the process for homeschooling in NSW and break down the esoteric language into words regular folk like us understand.
By the way before I tell you what I know, I want to make it clear that this isn’t legal advice. I’m just sharing what I’ve observed. If you want the official guide on homeschooling in NSW from NESA you can download it here.
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 My Homeschool!!
I love the weekly schedule so much, Jo – I know they will make the organisational side of my week much less of a task.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Homeschool Part Time in NSW?
When Can I Remove My Kids from School?
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 is a legitimate option. However, they do have legal obligations to fulfil for non-attending students. You do not need to show the school proof that you are homeschooling although some schools will be quite insistent, until 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.
How Much Does Homeschooling Cost In NSW?
Some people are eligible for Centrelink 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, or you can go crazy expensive. Here are some things to think about when trying to work out the real cost of homeschooling.
Do I Need To Buy A Curriculum? Can I Unschool or DIY My Curriculum?
Can My Child Get A Higher School Certificate If They Were Homeschooled?
All four of my children went to university at 16 without an HSC, one is a doctor. Many homeschooled children go on to tertiary study without an HSC.
Will Homeschooling Limit My Child's Options For University?
All four of my children went to university at 16. One became a medical doctor at 22 years old, and another got his Masters degree at 21.
I can tell you many other university success stories. Read about homeschooling and university here.
What if My Child Has Special Needs?
Can I Register for Homeschooling In NSW If Travelling?
There is no written NSW homeschool NESA policy excluding homeschoolers from travelling whilst homeschooling. However, if you try to register because you want to go travelling, they will usually say you should withdraw your application and then suggest that you do distance education while travelling. Distance education can be very restricting whilst homeschooling and is generally not liked by travelling homeschoolers.
Therefore, if you want to homeschool, it is usually best not to mention travelling plans when applying for registration.
NESA says they refuse applications because you are of “no fixed address” and they cannot “approve” your educational facilities.
Another state registration homeschooling body suggested to one homeschooling family that since they were of no fixed address while travelling that they did not need to be registered in a particular state.
Do You Have To Register to Homeschool in NSW?
However, there are always exceptions to the rule; if you are a temporary resident or have no NSW address then you cannot register to homeschool in NSW. For example – a friend of mine who’s children were New Zealand residents could have registered but did not. It was a grey area.
Do People Get Refused Registration?
Another 10% withdraw their application. This may be due to a change of mind, finding another solution or because they were travelling.
What Happens If I Don’t Register?
Here are the NSW laws regarding school absence.
However, it can be difficult/impossible to get some Centrelink payments without registration documentation.
Application For Registration to Homeschool 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.
Registration Appointment With NESA
The AP (approved person from the NESA) usually contacts you 2 – 3 weeks after you send in your application. 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 have been in place, all of the meetings have been done online which has sped up the registration process.
You are not required to send in documentation prior to the appointment although it is often requested by the AP. You can refuse and say you will be showing documentation during the meeting. If you do choose to send your documentation in please specify that these are private documents and not for sharing.
After your registration is approved at the visit you will have to wait about a week before your official NSW Homeschool certificate arrives in the mail.
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!
Filling In the Registration Forms for Homeschooling In NSW
There are two forms: one for initial registration and one for re-registration. The application forms and official requirements for homeschooling in NSW can be found on the NESA website.
Send off your form appropriate to your situation.
Tick YES, to all the requirements for an AP meeting such as:
- Educational Plan based on the NESA syllabus (You will need to prepare one).
- A plan for the next educational period (Same as above really)
- Record of progress (or a 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 will need to have resources to show).
Note: You do not need to DIY all your resources. You can use pre done curriculum. At My Homeschool we have complete NSW curriculum packages that are aligned to the NESA syllabus and we also have provided the documentation with most of the planning already done.
What Is The 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. But still, it is a personal conviction that makes parents choose this path.
How Long Can I Get Registered for Homeschooling In NSW?
Preparing Your Learning Plan for NSW Homeschooling Registration
The planning process is there to help you set goals for your child’s education.
The AP will not read most of your plan, so adding weblinks and short summaries is fine.
If you decide to change your plan three months later which people commonly do, it will not matter either.
Your plan will not be looked at the next time you apply for registration.
To prepare a homeschool plan you will need a basic understanding of a few terms of the NSW syllabus.
The NSW School Stages
Stage Two: Year Three – Year Four | Ages 8-10
Stage Three: Year Five – Year Six | Ages 10-12
Stage Four: Year Seven – Year Eight | Ages 12-14
Stage Five: Year Nine – Year Ten | Ages 14 -16
Stage Six: Year Eleven – Year Twelve | Ages 16 -18
Planning Based on NESA Syllabus
When documenting your plan for registration the NESA Home Schooling package states your plan only needs to be based on the NSW syllabus. You do not need to follow it identically. It needs only to be BASED ON the NSW syllabus.
To do this you can use:
- NSW Syllabus Outcomes – what you are hoping to achieve.
- NSW Syllabus Content – the subject content.
- NSW Stage Statements (are summaries of the content for each subject set into two-year periods. You can use them as part of your documentation, but it probably will not help with planning).
Now I know this all sounds a little scary, but we are not required to plan to the level of a school. Many learning plans are only a few pages long. I do not recommend using outcomes for planning. It is really for school teachers not homeschoolers and it’s complicated for most of us.
The easiest way to plan is using the NSW Syllabus Stage Statements however they are vague and can be a bit hard to understand. Nevertheless, some people like the vagueness because it means they can pretty much ignore them and just teach what they want. I see the merit in that!
I find the syllabus content is the best way to work out what is expected.
Here is the official NESA stage statements planning tool. It includes stage statements and outcomes from Stage 1 to Stage 5.
Planning With The Australian Curriculum
The NSW Syllabus is based on the Australian Curriculum, but it is written in two-year stages (3 years for Stage 1). However, the Australian Curriculum is set out in one-year blocks. I prefer using it for planning. Here’s why:
- the Australian Curriculum has less information and is therefore easier to absorb.
- 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 do not 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.
If you want to research this more, here is a comprehensive article on NSW and the Australian Curriculum.
What Subjects Do I Need to Teach?
- sustainability – which is mostly environmental issues.
- Australia’s place in Asia
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history
If you add something into your curriculum each year that somehow addresses these issues you can comply.
Key learning areas in primary are:
- Science and Technology
- Human Society and its Environment – HISE (history, geography, economics, and civics)
- Creative and Practical Arts (fine arts, drama, dancing, and music)
- Personal Development, Health and Physical Education – PDHPE (health information and physical education)
- Languages (This is an optional subject for homeschoolers).
Key learning areas in high school (7 to 10) are:
- HISE (history, geography, economics, and civics)
Electives Subjects you can choose to study 2 of the 4 other subjects in the syllabus.
- Creative and practical arts
- Design and Technology
Do I Need A Diary Or Timetable?
Here is a quote from the official NESA Guide.
“Each family will vary in the specific types of records to be kept. A diary is one way of keeping a record of how the educational program has been implemented. A timetable is one way of planning learning times for different subjects. Parents may also use other approaches to planning and record-keeping.” p.49
Can I Buy A Plan?
Yes! When you use My Homeschool we give you the essential building blocks for your personalised learning plan.
We’ve done 75% of the work. We provide idea prompts and suggestions to help you personalise your application to suit your child’s specific needs.
With each grade we include:
- A learning plan in an editable Word document. Just fill in the sections we recommend.
- A scope and sequence with all syllabus outcomes and codes linked to resources.
- Editable Term Reports to make re-registration easy.
100% of our members report passing their registration and reregistration when using our templates.
What a relief and blessing for homeschool families to have all the nitty gritty details of daily homeschool and homeschool registration designed for us. It is wonderful to see how simple registration can be. Michelle you have created a method for recording that oozes simplicity and that is what we all want. Michelle and Jo you are a very present listening ear and help on the My Homeschool forum and your advice is all about making homeschool work for each one. I have absolute freedom in how I use this resource. I have not followed the schedule as is but have felt encouragement from you to make it work for my busy family lifestyle, quirks and passions. Year 5 is helping our ten year old to move into written narrations and I have found Our Sunburnt Country broken into small chunks with a notebook page for each reading, is so simple and achievable. My daughter’s confidence in writing has grown in the first term of using My Homeschool following this very natural method. Thank you Michelle and Jo, for your commitment to making homeschool simple. What a blessing you are.
Let Us Help You On The Homeschool Journey
My Homeschool is more than a curriculum, it is a holistic education community that supports parents and children on their homeschool journey. When you buy a graded homeschool program through My Homeschool you are joining a community that supports and mentors parents interested in educating their children academically and spiritually.
We give you a shortcut to help you get straight into giving your child a delightful and robust education without spending days and days researching and tweaking unsuitable content.
We Wanted A Curriculum That Worked For Home Educators
Our curriculum writers have already done the juggle of homeschooling a few children at once.
- We knew how lovely and important it is to learn as a family so we made some lessons and read alouds possible to teach as a group.
- We reduced the time needed for formal academics by crafting our curriculum so our resources and books often teach multiple topics.
- We made each grade fit each state’s syllabus so you can get registered easily.
- We gave you a streamlined intentional curriculum so you could give your children a wholesome integrated education from kindergarten to high school.
- We made sure it was academically challenging so your children will have career options, and a pathway to university if needed.
- We put it all in one place so you weren’t hunting around looking for resources every time you wanted to begin lessons.
- We made it easy to access your lessons and planner when you were out and about or travelling just by picking up your smartphone.
Buy A Course
Become a part of the My Homeschool community. Let us mentor you on the homeschool journey.