An important part of HEWA’s role is to liaise with the Department of Education on behalf of home educators. This includes attending meetings with regional offices, building links with key stakeholders, and playing an advocacy role when needed.
HEWA has been involved in this work from its inception and has managed to build good working relationships across the Department and works hard to maintain those relationships. HEWA feels this is an extremely important part of its work, as it gives home educators a voice when changes are being made to policy, procedures and legislation, and helps when advocating on specific issues.
On Tuesday 9th April, HEWA representatives, Saani Bennetts, Liz Read, Lianda Gibson and Kirsty MacDonald, attended a workshop hosted by the Southern Metropolitan Educational Regional Office (South Metro). The stated aim of the workshop was to gain feedback on the Home Education Policy through an examination of processes in place.
The workshop was hosted by an external facilitator, Bevan Bessen of Tuna Blue Facilitation and attendees included Departmental staff, HEWA representatives, Moderators from South Metro, and a number of home educating families who had been invited by the Department.
The Department was seeking feedback on ways to improve the WA Home Education Policy document and discussion about how the Education Department could better support home educators. It was very explicit that the meeting was a brainstorm only and would not necessarily lead directly to specific changes.
Objectives of the workshop were for participants to:
Issues HEWA raised at both workshops include:
- Increase understanding of the policy and the South Metro approach;
- Provide feedback on the effectiveness of the approach;
- Identify key questions and issues;
- Suggest improvements to the current approach
The workshop was very collaborative, with individual tables having a varying assortment of home educators, Education Department staff including moderators, and a HEWA representative.
Issues HEWA raised included:
- Inconsistencies in the requirements of reporting between moderators and even regional offices, North Metro and South Metro.
- The need for more understanding and flexibility for children dealing with anxiety, trauma, health issues or additional needs.
- The need for greater and continuing dialogue between HEWA and the department in the best interests of the home education community.
- The need for more understanding regarding allowing a transition time for children going from school to home education.
- The need to support moderators in understanding different home education philosophies and approaches to education, the validity of student-led approaches and key differences between learning at home and learning in a school environment.
- A greater understanding that as long as forward progress is evident, students are encouraged to continue learning their own pace and readiness.
The meeting lasted about 3 hours and was reflected on positively by all attendees.
If you are interested in being involved in these types of meetings/workshops you could join the HEWA Committee as a general member. We currently have positions available, and if you would like more information, please contact: [email protected]
– April 2019