PARENTS are tipped to take their children out of traditional schooling at an even greater rate in 2022 than they have in the past few years, with Bendigo homeschooling groups among organisations reporting surging enquiries.
COVID-19 protocols are being pointed to for the rising interest in homeschooling, with many parents saying they were apprehensive of mask rules for young children and the need for regular testing.
The Victorian Government's Registration and Qualifications Agency reported a 20 per cent jump in the number of children registered for home school at the end of 2020.
"The number of children registered for homeschooling grows each year," it stated.
"In 2020 there was particularly strong growth in registrations, coinciding with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The number of children registered increased by 20 per cent, or 1224 children, compared to 2019."
Samantha Rowe of the Waldorf Homeschooling Group Castlemaine, which follows the Steiner philosophy, said there had been a spike in the number of local parents getting in touch.
"I have received 20 enquiries this year alone," she said.
President of the Home Education Association Karen Chegwidden said she expected an increase of up to 30 per cent in Victorian homeschool registrations this year.
"We are seeing a lot more interest from Victoria than we usually see," she said.
"We have a national hotline parents can call to discuss homeschooling and a lot of them are saying 'I would never consider homeschooling normally but I have had enough of the disruption - we cannot tell if school will be on or off' and now they want to do it."
Ms Chegwidden said some families reported wanting to switch to homeschool until all of their children were vaccinated and others wanted a permanent change.
Ms Chegwidden said teachers were also calling through due to their concerns about educating in classrooms.
"We are seeing a huge amount of teachers in the current surge of interest in home schooling as well," she said.
"They are exiting the school system and want to keep teaching children. But the way the Education Act is worded there is not really any room for that. What we are seeing is lots of pop-up schools.
"Teachers are taking little groups of kids and saying to parents: 'I will design a curriculum and mark the assessments for you and do group classes'. It's more of a distance education model but the parents are still registering for homeschool. "And we are concerned about this. Home education is led by parents, not teachers. It's a lifestyle choice, not a career pathway."
Ms Chegwidden said Victoria was one of the most flexible states in Australia for home educators, as children could still go to school part-time and home educate part-time if they wanted.
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