Home schooling a positive choice

Bullying prompted Brisbane mother Linda Richardson to look at home education for her step-daughter.

''She was in grade 10 at the time and she was really struggling with high school and the whole bullying issue and I am a registered teacher and at the time I wasn't working, so I said, 'Well, I am a teacher, I am at home, do you want to do home school?''' Ms Richardson said.

''So we made a very quick decision one weekend and the very next day … we started home schooling.''

Ms Richardson's step-daughter graduated and went into the Australian Navy before settling into a career with Brisbane City Council.

Her two younger daughters, 17-year-old Lauren and Jasmine, 13, also decided to take the home education route.

''We love it. We love the flexibility and the depth of learning that I have been able to do with my children,'' Ms Richardson said.

''We have been able to cover subjects that they just don't do in school any more, the different languages and so on, and two of my children have been very involved in music, so it gave them the flexibility to be able to get to a higher standard with their practice.''

Lauren graduated last year and has begun studying a bachelor of arts. Jasmine has just begun year 9.

The Richardsons are just one of a growing number of Queensland families choosing to home educate. Queensland open data showed the number of active registrations for home education jumped from 495 in 2008 to 951 in 2012.

It is a drop in the ocean compared with 508,408 full-time students enrolled in Queensland state schools as of February 2013.

However, Jason Caldwell, who has been involved in home education for the past 13 years, said he believed the numbers to be much higher.

''I can't claim to have hard data, but I just know from experience that there is probably a couple of thousand which are still unregistered doing what you term home schooling,'' he said.

Mr Caldwell heads the Faith Christian School of Distance Education, a private school that supports parents with home educating, and which counts Ms Richardson as an English co-ordinator. ''A lot of people are looking for more positive learning situations for their children,'' Mr Caldwell said.

''We have several special needs students who have seen incredible progress. They have come out of special needs units and other situations and what a parent is able to do with their child in that home learning situation, is absolutely mind-blowing in terms of progress.''

Mr Caldwell said parents decided to home educate for a variety of reasons, including religion, which was the basis for his school.

The Education Department's deputy director-general of policy and programs, Annette Whitehead, said the department ''neither encouraged nor discouraged'' home education, but did ''recognise that home education provides choice to parents in determining the appropriate education outcomes for their children''.

Parents are required by law to enrol their school-age children in either a state or private school, or register for home education. Parents who choose to home educate must ensure their child ''receives a high-quality education'' and provide the Education Department with either an educational program or learning philosophy for the child.

The department also asks parents to provide an annual written report detailing their child's progress.

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