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Home education keeps adding to its numbers

May 18th, 2010 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

HOME GROWN: The growth of homeschooling between 1998 and 2009

HOME GROWN: The growth of homeschooling between 1998 - 2009 (Photo by samie.shake on Flickr)

THE EQUIVALENT of a small primary school of children is being home-schooled in Wellington.

Over 300 children from about 120 families are homeschooled in the capital, which is following national trends.

Home education numbers have risen 28.7 % since the Ministry of Education began publishing numbers of students granted an exemption in 1998.

Between 2008 and 2009 alone there was an increase of 286 students, a growth of 4.4% in just one year.

In the same period, the number of students starting homeschooling increased by 6.9%, with 1369 students starting homeschooling.

Julie Ward, coordinator for the Wellington Home Education Network (WHEN), says the reason more people are home educating is because more people are aware it exists.

“The reason it is growing is because more people know about home education. This means that as support groups get larger they can provide more for people who home educate. Success breeds more success.”

I WILL DERIVE: 16 year old James Ward and WHEN co-ordinator Julie Ward work on a maths equation.

I WILL DERIVE: 16 year old James Ward and WHEN co-ordinator Julie Ward work on a maths equation.

Section 21 of the Education Act allows children to be exempted from school as long as their parents establish they will be taught as regularly and as well as in a registered school.

Homeschooling parent Adrienne Middlemiss has been homeschooling her three children, Aaron (32), Joel (30) and Ariel (17) for 22 years consecutively. Her family was only the sixth in New Zealand to apply for an exemption under the present system.

Adrienne puts the growth down to the fact that there is more support available.

“There has been a huge amount of growth. It’s just increased so much and the supports are so much better,” says Adrienne.

“Basically way back in that day with Aaron, we thought we could do a better job than the school. I went up as mother help and found his teachers were struggling and the children weren’t really listening.”

She describes the process to get an exemption as long and stressful. “We met two school inspectors and had a three hour interview. It was grueling. They didn’t have any homeschool packages like you get now.”

Adrienne says the expansion of homeschooling since she first began has been exponential.

“At that stage the homeschoolers group was very small. I didn’t even know about it when I started homeschooling. It was sort of like we were on our own for awhile. We only knew one other homeschooling family.”

The total number of home educated children in New Zealand is 6,787 students made up of 3,541 families, with an average of two children per family.

Most students beginning home education were primary school age, with 81.2% being between the ages of five and twelve. 36% of those students undertaking home education were six years old.

72.9% of homeschoolers reside in the North Island with 23.3% living in the Auckland region.

The West Coast, Northland and Marlborough regions have the highest proportions of homeschoolers compared to the total school populations.

Wellington region is near the bottom with 0.60% of students, relative to the total school population, opting to homeschool.  This still equates to 120 families educating over 300 children.

Julie says the growth of homeschooling has created more opportunities for homeschoolers.

“The growth in numbers of home educated children has enabled support groups nationwide to provide a greater range of services for homeschoolers,” she says.

The Wellington group has a library, website, email group and local support groups in almost every suburb in greater Wellington and members regularly organise educational visits to suit students at all ages and stages.

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