NSW home schoolers are worried they will have less freedom and flexibility to teach their children under updated registration requirements released by the NSW Board of Studies last week.
Home Education Association (HEA) president Tamara Kelly said the main concern home schoolers had with the new Registration for Home Schooling in NSW information package was that they were not consulted on how any changes would affect them.
She said the new package made it harder for students who wanted to work either above or below the year level their age would place them in at school.
"It's more restrictive, harder to fulfil for the natural learners. They are children whose parents give them a bit more leeway and approach topics as they come up in natural life."
An independent petition is circulating on change.org asking Minister for Education Adrian Piccoli to cancel the new information pack and consult with home educators.
As of yesterday afternoon, it had 1600 signatures.
The NSW Board of Studies said it was aware of the petition, but that it was not clear how many of the signatories were registered for home schooling in NSW.
According to the board, there are 300 children registered for home schooling in the Illawarra.
Ulladulla mum Ingrid McCarthy, who is also treasurer of the HEA, started home educating her two children three years ago, after they had finished year 5 at school, because a traditional learning environment didn't work for them.
Ms McCarthy said while home educators had always worked to the requirements of the NSW syllabus, the new information package pushed home learning in line with how things were done in schools, which would likely defeat the purpose of why most had chosen home schooling.
"We don't make these decisions lightly. Most of the parents have pulled their kids out of schools because it wasn't working for them and their kids are much happier and enjoying their learning again."
According to the Board of Studies, there are no changes to registration requirements apart from the new syllabus that will be introduced across the country from next year.
"It is incorrect to suggest that the updated information package reduces the flexibility home-schooling parents have for providing an educational program based on the child's pace of learning," it said.
"One of the requirements for registration is that the educational program is suitable to cater for the identified learning needs of the child.
"This requirement continues to apply in the updated information package."