Home education (sometimes called homeschooling) is an option in New Zealand. Parents and caregivers who want to educate their child at home need to first get approval from their local Ministry of Education office.
- What is home education?
- Who can home educate?
- How do I apply?
- What information do I need to provide with the application?
- When should I apply?
- Can I get any financial support?
- What other support or resources can I get?
- How do I report to the Ministry of Education?
- What if my circumstances change?
- Who monitors home education?
- Further information
In New Zealand, all children aged between 6 and 16 years of age are required to enrol in and attend a registered school.
Home education is where parents or legal guardians take responsibility for the education of their children, instead of enrolling them in school.
If you, as a parent or legal guardian, wish to educate your child at home, you must first get approval from your local Ministry of Education office.
If you get approval to home educate, you will receive a Certificate of Exemption from Enrolment at a Registered School. This indicates you are legally responsible for providing, supervising and monitoring your child’s learning programme.
If you want to home educate more than one child, a separate Certificate of Exemption is required for each child.
Any parent or legal guardian of a child aged between 5 and 16 years of age may apply to home educate.
To gain approval, your application must satisfy the Ministry that your child will be taught at least as regularly and as well as they would be in a registered school. If your child has special education needs, the application must show that these needs will be met.
You will need to complete an application form and prepare the required supporting documents, then send them to your local Ministry of Education office. There are a number of ways you can do this:
You can download the Ministry's application form and email it along with your supporting documents to your local Ministry office:
- click on the application form to download
- 'save as' the form to your computer
- open the saved form in adobe reader
- fill in the form
- click 'save as' and save the completed form to your desktop
- email your completed application and supporting documents to your local Ministry office.
Or you can email an application of your own design to your local Ministry office. If you do this section one of the Ministry form must still be completed and attached to your application. Read the associated guidance documents to be sure that your application meets the criteria set by the Ministry.
You can print out the Ministry's application form, or use a form of your own design and post it to your local Ministry office.
Once you've submitted your application a staff member from the Ministry will by in touch. They may ask you for extra information. This is a normal part of the process.
The Ministry will contact the most recent school that your child has been enrolled in (if any). This is to get a full picture of your child’s educational context, providing insight into how you will need to individualise your educational approach to suit the needs of your child.
If your application is approved you will receive a Certificate of Exemption and you can start home educating your child. A separate Certificate of Exemption is required for each child.
If your application is declined you will receive a letter explaining the reason the application was declined. You can appeal the decision by notifying the Ministry’s National Office in writing. The application will be referred to the Education Review Office (ERO). The Secretary, after considering the ERO report, will confirm the refusal or grant a certificate. The Secretary's decision is final.
If your child is aged between 6 and 16 and you have not received a Certificate of Exemption, then by law they must be enrolled in and attending a registered school. This includes the time period when you are waiting for you application to be processed.
The Ministry can only issue a Certificate of Exemption when it is satisfied that you are willing and able to be responsible for an appropriate programme of education for your child (ie. that your child will be taught at least as regularly and as well as they would at a registered school).
The application form asks you to provide full details about how you intend to home educate your child, including:
- a description of your home education approach, philosophy and/or curriculum
- a description of intended learning areas and/or subjects
- a description of the resources and reference materials you have available to teach your child, and an explanation of how you intend to use them
- short- and long-term educational goals for your child
- an example of a special project or topic plan covering learning goals, resources, teaching methods, progress and achievement measures
- a description of intended environmental, social and community contact, including educational visits
- a description of how you intend to measure and record progress and achievement in relation to the learning goals
- a demonstration of regularity – when, how often and for how long you will teach your child.
Further guidance is available in the application form and guidance document.
You may apply to home educate any time after your child turns 5 years old, to come into effect when your child turns 6.
Applications usually take 4-6 weeks to process. If your child is between 6 and 16 years old, he or she must remain enrolled in and attending a registered school while your application is being progressed. This is a legal requirement.
The Ministry may ask you for additional information once it has received your application. This is a normal part of the process. Your application may take more than 6 weeks to process while additional information is being gathered. You should factor this in when considering the best time to make a home education application.
Home educators are eligible for the home education supervision allowance. It is calculated on the number of children you are home educating. The annual total paid per child is as follows:
- first child $743.00
- second child $632.00
- third child $521.00
- subsequent children $372.00
The allowance is paid in instalments twice annually - in June and December each year – for the preceding 6 months. The first payment for a child new to home education will cover the period from the date of the issue of the Certificate of Exemption until the next payment round, either in June or December of that year.
You must continue to meet the requirements of your Certification of Exemption to keep receiving the allowance. You must complete a declaration to confirm this in April and October each year.
It is important that the Ministry has your current address to post the declarations to you.
Curriculum and other support documents
Though it is not a requirement to use it, you are eligible to receive The New Zealand Curriculum or Te Marautanga o Aotearoa free of charge.
Ministry of Education Customer Services
P O Box 932
Phone: 0800 660 662
Fax: 0800 660 663
Home educators can access the Ministry of Education's catalogue of teaching and learning resources for schools Down the Back of the Chair
Note: fees may apply on some resources.
Some of the more popular Down the Back of the Chair resources and support are available here:
- English medium literacy instructional series
- Primary literacy mailing list
- Secondary Literacy mailing list
- Artsonline Community
- Technology online newsletter
Home Education and special education needs
If your child has special education needs, then it is important that you can provide the same level of support that is available through school. The Ministry cannot approve your application to home educate without first being satisfied that these supports are in place.
Support for home educators
Children and young people who are home educated and have identified special education needs can access support from the Ministry’s specialist services. Any request for services will be treated in the same way as they would be in a school context.
The focus of the Ministry’s services and support is increasing the capability of the adults around the child.
Information about these services is available in the special education needs section. Parents can apply for the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS) on the same basis as a school for children with the highest needs.
Your local Ministry Special Education office can give you more information.
Support only available at school
Some special education supports are not available to home educators. This is because they are services which are designed to support teachers in a school setting. They include:
- Resource Teachers: Learning and Behaviour (RTLB)
- Resource Teachers: Literacy
- the Severe Behaviour Service
- the School High Health Needs Fund
- direct teaching services related to children who are blind or low vision and deaf or hearing impaired
- additional teacher and teacher’s aide time as part of the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS).
Support after the age of 16
If your child has been verified through the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme, and has a current certificate of exemption at age 16, this exemption can continue until the end of the year in which he or she reaches the age of 21.
To qualify for the supervision allowance and to continue receiving specialist services for their child, beyond compulsory school age, parents need to contact their local Ministry of Education office.
Inclusive Education website - this site provides New Zealand educators with practical strategies, suggestions and resources to support learners with diverse needs.
Much More than Words - a booklet about children’s communication development so you can think about how your child is talking and support them, using their skills and interests.
About Dyslexia - information for teachers and parents about students who show signs of dyslexia.
Ministry of Education Special Education booklets - a series of booklets looking at how different special education needs influence learning and providing strategies for teachers:
- ADHD - Mate Takawhiti Takarepa Aro (ADHD)
- Students who are Deaf or have Hearing Loss - Ngā Ākonga Turi
- Physical Disabilities - Ngā Hauātanga ā-Tinana
- Developmental Dyspraxia - Mate Pūkenga Nekeneke, Whanake Hoki
- Speech, Language And Communication Needs - Ngā Pūkenga Reo Ā-Waha, Whakawhitiwhiti Kōrero Hoki
- Down Syndrome - Mate Pūira Kehe
- Students who are Blind or have Low Vision - Ngā Ākonga Kāpō, he Kaha Kore te Āheinga Kite rānei
Access to Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu – Te Kura (formerly the Correspondence School)
Once you have a Certificate of Exemption, you can purchase tuition from Te Kura. Students aged 15 and under can enrol in up to five subjects as a fee paying student with Te Kura and still retain their home education exemption certificate.
Students aged 16 and over can enrol in subjects free of charge under the Young Adult Gateway category. However, if they enrol in three or more subjects they are regarded as full-time students with Te Kura and will lose their home education exemption certificate.
Qualifications for home educated students
If you are eligible to access courses through Te Kura, then you may earn credits through that school towards a National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) at Levels 1 to 3.
It is also possible for home educated young people to be assessed against NCEA standards through a school that has been granted “consent to assess” by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA). There is no obligation on the part of any school to act as a link school for home educated young people.
The NZQA website has information about the eligibility of home educated young people to access NCEA through link schools.
Cambridge International Examinations
Home educated students can sit Cambridge International Examinations at approved schools annually in October/November as a private candidate.
Not all syllabuses are available to home educated students. Home educated students must negotiate directly with the approved school of their choice and pay the required fees if accepted.
There is also an email group for home educated students using the Cambridge system, find out more at the NZ Home Ed Cambridge Yahoo Groups page
University entrance requirements
The University of Canterbury has an entry pathway specifically designed for home educated students
Massey University also accepts home educated students who can provide evidence that their work is at an equivalent standard to their discretionary entrance requirements
Home educated students can enter university if they have Christian Education New Zealand (CENZ) Level 3 certificate or CENZ Level 3 certificate with Honours.
For other tertiary providers and for home educated students who do not hold a suitable CENZ qualification it is recommended that they contact the provider's admissions departments (or equivalent) directly to establish what their entry criteria are. This should be done up to two years in advance so a suitable entrance pathway can be developed.
There are a number of useful tools to help home educated students as well as their parents and whānau explore career pathways:
Access to healthcare services
Your child is entitled to a number of free or subsidised healthcare services, including but not limited to:
Your child may be eligible for zero–fee visits to general practices.
Eyesight and Hearing
For information about eyesight and hearing checks that occur when students are age 11, contact your local District Health Board.
Under the Talk Teeth programme, children get free basic care for their teeth until they are 18. For information on this service, including arranging access, contact your local Community Oral Health Service.
To find out about other healthcare services your child may be eligible for, contact your local District Health Board.
Advice and guidance
There are a number of independent home education groups around the country.
These groups can give you information about learning activities, outings, social events for the group. Joining a local home educators group is one way to receive support when home educating or considering home educating.
- Find out more about support groups at National Council of Home Educators New Zealand (NCHENZ) website
Find out more about the CENZ/ACE home schooling curricula and qualifications:
You must complete a declaration twice a year, in April and October. This will:
- assure the Ministry that the home educating is continuing
- ensure your Certificate of Exemption is valid, and
- allow you to receive the home educator supervision allowance.
Even if you do not want to receive the supervision allowance, you must still complete the declaration twice a year.
The declaration will be sent to your home address, so you must advise your local Ministry of Education office if you change your address.
If the Ministry has still not received the declaration by the date set in the reminder letter your supervision allowance payments will cease.
You need to let the Ministry know if:
- you change address
- you are no longer home educating your child
- you have registered your child in school (full time or for a trial period), or
- you go overseas long term (a period longer than 28 days).
Trialling a school
Home educated students may trial attending a school. For more information about this process, contact your local Ministry office.
You will lose your exemption certificate if you enrol at school. Your home education supervision allowance may be impacted, depending on how long your child attends school:
- 0-28 days – No effect on your allowance and you will usually not need to reapply to obtain your exemption certificate.
- 29 days – 10 weeks – your allowance will be reduced, based on the length of time that your child was attending school. You may be required to reapply for your exemption certificate.
- More than 10 weeks – your allowance will be ceased and you will need to reapply for your exemption certificate.
If you and your family plan to be away from New Zealand then it may impact your supervision allowance (depending on how long you are away):
- 0-28 days – no effect on your allowance
- More than 28 days, but less than 6 months – your allowance will be recalculated and only paid for the time in New Zealand.
- More than 6 months – your allowance will stop and you will need to apply for it again when you return to New Zealand.
If you are going to be away for more than 28 days then you need to let your local Ministry of Education office know.
Home educating parents and legal guardians have the primary responsibility for monitoring the quality of their children’s education. By designing a robust curriculum and regularly reflecting on progress made, you can ensure that your child’s needs are met by the education you provide.
As the administrator of the Education Act 1989, the Ministry of Education also has obligations regarding the monitoring of home education. To meet these obligations, staff from your local Ministry office may contact you for information about your home education practices from time to time.
In some circumstances, the Ministry may request the Education Review Office (ERO) to conduct a review of a home educator. The Ministry will inform you if you have been referred for a review and explain why. ERO will then contact you to provide information about the process and arrange a time for a review.
To help ERO, the Ministry will provide them with a copy of your application. You do not need to provide ERO with a separate copy of this unless your approach to teaching has changed since your original application.
You will be given the opportunity to comment on the draft ERO report. If the ERO report raises concerns, the local Ministry office will ask you to show how you intend to address these. If ERO and the Ministry are not satisfied that these concerns will be addressed, your Certificate of Exemption may be revoked.
Unlike school reviews, the ERO home education reviews are confidential and are not published on the ERO website.
See the ERO website for information for parents about home educator reviews.
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