This information is also available in a pamphlet format.
What does the law say?
In Victoria, the law requires children to attend school or be registered for home education. While you wait for your home education application to be approved, your child must attend their school.
However, there is provision for non-attendance in The Education and Training Reform Act for matters such as illness, suspension/expulsion, child’s disobedience or a situation where a parent has provided a reason to the principal for the non-attendance and the principal has accepted that reason.
You do not need to send your child to school if they are unsafe there or suffering in some way.
In this situation, inform the principal that you have applied for home education and that your child is unsafe/unable to attend school in the waiting period. State the reasons and request that the principal approve the child’s absence. It is important this notification is in writing and dated, as this creates a paper trail.
Keeping school communication open and polite can help avoid escalation and also counts in your favour, however such escalation is uncommon.
What happens if a principal refuses to accept my reason for non-attendance?
In the vast majority of cases parents are able to withdraw their child from school, and keep them home, without a problem.
If the principal refuses to accept your reason for non-attendance, this is the process that would follow:
- Referral to a School Attendance Officer
the School Attendance Officer makes enquiries. They would consider the reason you supplied together with your pending home education application and the process is likely to go no further.
If they decide to take it further (and this is rare) the next stages in order are:
- issue of a School Attendance Notice
- the parent has 21 days to respond
- the Regional Director assesses the parent’s response
- if they don’t accept the parent’s response they can issue an official warning or Infringement Notice
- the parent can appeal against the Infringement Notice
In the meantime, while the above process is happening, the parent can also appeal to their Regional Office, with the response taking up to 10 days. If this is unsuccessful, the parent can appeal to the Independent Office for School Dispute Resolution which takes another 10 days.
For the safety of children who need immediate removal from school, it is important that this process is not abused by families who aren’t in that uncommon situation. If you are in this situation, please contact HEN for advice on 03 9517 7107 (voicemail service, a volunteer will return your call).
Will I be fined for truancy?
Truancy is when a child does not attend school and the parent is reported and fined. If you are keeping your child home from school while your homeschooling application is being processed because your child is experiencing health issues or difficulties, please don’t worry about being fined for truancy.
Nobody in Victoria has ever been fined for truancy related to a homeschooling approval period. In order for truancy fines to be imposed, a process must first be followed and that process takes longer than the actual home education registration application process. So if you have sent in your home education application, the VRQA must respond within 28 days with most approvals coming in well below 28 days.
Do I need permission from the school to home educate?
No. The law does not require you to obtain permission from the school. You have the legal right to choose home education for your child, without permission from a school. The school has no involvement with your decision and your subsequent home education. The school does not have a legal right to see your educational plans.
What do I need to tell the school?
You can tell the school you have been approved for home education and will be withdrawing your child. HEN recommends you inform the school as a general courtesy. The school may ask to see your registration letter from the VRQA so they can officially note your child is no longer enrolled. You can show them your letter but you are not obliged to give them a copy for their records.
Keep your correspondence with the school in writing as much as possible. This helps you keep track of conversations.
If you are happy for your child to remain at school while you are waiting for home education approval from VRQA, you aren’t under any legal obligation to tell the school you have already applied.
Can the school stop me from home educating?
No. They have no legal right that overrules a parent’s right to choose home education. Home education is legal and the school can not stop you.
What is the Transition From School form? Do I need it for home education?
The Transition From School form is not required to withdraw your child from school for home education. This form is used only for students aged under 17 who wish to undertake a TAFE course, employment or a situation where an exemption from school attendance is required. Home education is not considered an exemption, as home education registration fulfills the attendance requirements of the Education and Training Reform Act.
If your school (typically a secondary school) insists you need to provide this form for your child to be home educated, they are incorrect. Please contact HEN for assistance and HEN can write to the principal on your behalf, outlining the relevant legal information.
More information from HEN
Home Education in Victoria: Summary of Legal Requirements
School Attendance During the Approval Period
HEN Home Education Network: a volunteer run non-profit group in Victoria, established to support home educators. HEN is not a government body.
DET Department of Education and Training: the state government’s department responsible for education.
VRQA Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority: a division of DET that is responsible for the implementation of the homeschool regulations such as registrations and reviews.