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Queensland Backtracks on Homeschool Curriculum Mandate

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In March, the Queensland government attempted to mandate the national school curriculum for homeschooled children but has now backed down.

Under proposed education reforms in Queensland, home-schooled children will not have to follow the national curriculum but will instead have their progress checked by a new government advisory group.

Currently, there is no set homeschooling curriculum, but parents or caregivers are required to develop an educational program based on the eight core learning set out in the Australian National Curriculum, which includes English, maths, science, humanities and social science, arts, technology, physical education, and language learning.

In March, the government attempted to mandate the curriculum via a Queensland parliamentary committee tasked with drafting the Education General Provisions Amendment (EGPA) Bill, which proposed changes to homeschooling.

However, after consultation with education stakeholders, doubts were cast over whether such a mandate would alienate the stay-at-home students and their families.

As a result, Education Minister Di Farmer has announced that a new Home School Advisory Group will be established.

The government said it respects the right of parents to home-school, but the advisory group will check on whether children are receiving comparable learning.

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“I will also be establishing a Home Education Advisory Group to consider in detail how we ensure children being homeschooled are receiving the high-quality education,” Ms. Farmer said.

“Additionally, a review will commence into the role of the Home Education Unit to how best it can help not only better regulate, but provide important support to families who choose to home school.

“All Queensland children are entitled to be safe wherever they live and learn and as a former child safety minister, I understand too well that this is not always the case.”

Queensland Premier Steven Miles said he listened to Queenslanders on the changes made to the homeschooling issue. (Jono Searle/Getty Images)
Queensland Premier Steven Miles said he listened to Queenslanders on the changes made to the homeschooling issue. (Jono Searle/Getty Images)

Homeschooling in Australia has been steadily growing in popularity as an alternative to traditional schooling, initially taking hold during the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of children now staying home from the traditional classroom surged by nearly 300 percent in 2023.

Families choose homeschooling for a variety of reasons, including a desire for more flexibility in their children’s education, dissatisfaction with the schooling system, or a wish to provide a tailored education that meets their child’s individual needs.

Proponents of the method say one of the key benefits of homeschooling is the ability to customise the educational experience to suit the child’s learning style, interests, and pace.

Homeschooled children often have more freedom to explore subjects in depth and pursue areas of passion. Additionally, homeschooling can provide a more flexible schedule, allowing for travel, family commitments, or other activities.

Critics of homeschooling often point towards potential issues with a lack of social interaction with children the same age, hampering adult development, and failing to maintain a consistent schedule required when entering the workforce.

Response to the Homeschool Changes

Free2Homeschool campaign manager Patricia Fitzgerald, who is hosting a “peaceful picnic” at Parliament House in Brisbane to celebrate the withdrawal of the national curriculum, said parents and caregivers should be kept in the loop.

“Queensland Home Educators want to ensure they are recognised, supported and are consulted appropriately so that any legislation reflects the actual needs of home education in the community,” Ms. Fitzgerald said.

Shadow education minister Christian Rowan saw the backdown as a failure for Labor.

“Labor has descended into a government in chaos and crisis which utterly failed to consult and listen to Queenslanders on this issue and now has been forced to abandon its reckless plans,” Mr. Rowan said on April 15.

Queensland Premier Steven Miles disagreed with Mr. Rowan’s sentiment.

“I have always said I will listen to Queenslanders and act when I need to, which is why I worked with Minister Farmer to ensure we heard the concerns of teachers.”

“I look forward to seeing updated consultation proceed,” he said.

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