How the process is supposed to work (in theory)
If the student is enrolled in 3 or more subjects, then their exemption is ceased, and they are no longer entitled to the homeschooling supervision allowance. If they are enrolled in only 1-2 Te Kura subjects, then the exemption and allowance continues.
At least, that's the theory. However....
Weak links in the chain (or where things can go wrong)
1) Te Kura itself first updates the student on ENROL, the national database. They tell me that if they note that the student is currently listed as exempt, then they try to make a point of contacting the family to ask how many subjects in total they intend to enroll in (as initial enrolment does not necessarily reflect full intended subjects), and to explain if it's 3 or more the exemption will cease. That's an excellent idea, but I'm confident from the comments of many families that does not always happen. In the process of updating the student on ENROL, unless they have checked and found/acted otherwise, their action of adding them as a Te Kura student will automatically cease the exemption.
2) If the Ministry fails to check with Te Kura, or Te Kura fails to return confirmation of subject numbers to the Ministry, then things won't get corrected as they should.
3) Even if the above does happen, there is no guarantee that follow up will be correctly done. In theory, because of the above process, there should not be the current issues occurring - the sheer volume of them shows that things are not being done property at some point in the chain. And from my conversations with the Ministry and Te Kura, no one actually knows where it's going wrong, making it hard to fix.
4) There is no set regularity to the process of sending through lists, responding to them, and taking follow up action, which doesn't help the efficacy of the process.
5) In theory, the student's learning advisor is also supposed to make notes on the record that the student is home educated and only doing 1 or 2 subjects, but how/if that is picked up on and actioned is unclear.
As I said to the lovely folk at Te Kura today, it shouldn't be this complicated! I will therefore be submitting a suggestion to the person currently working on improving the online enrolment forms, which should help:
On the online enrolment form for Young Adults, add the following questions/information:
- Does this student currently hold a homeschooling exemption? Y/N
- If yes, what is the total number of subjects this student intends to be enrolled in this year?
"We have had situations where students have enrolled in 3 or more subjects, but then have only attended 2 of those subjects. If this is the case, the parents need to ensure that they have withdrawn the student from those subjects formally with Te Kura and advised us of this change."
So if that applies to your student, make sure you follow up.
How to get it fixed if this has happened to you
The Resourcing department is responsible for issuing a declaration if one was not already done, and making the missing payment. You will likely also want to contact them, quoting your homeschooling reference number and stating the issue. You might write something like this:
"My child (insert full name) has a home education exemption, family reference number (insert number). They were enrolled in Te Kura for 1 (or 2) subjects from (insert date). Their exemption/supervision allowance should therefore not have been affected, but we have not received the expected payment amount [OR: we have not received the declarations or payment]. Attached is evidence that (child's name) is only enrolled in 1 (or 2) subjects [OR: we have been in contact with Te Kura and requested that they ensure the record reflect he/she is enrolled in only 1 (or 2) subjects.]. We therefore request that you ensure that our exemption remains in force or is reinstated if necessary, and that the missing payment is processed."
You can email Resourcing at Resourcing@education.govt.nz
Any payments that need to be made will usually happen within a month or so once Resourcing has things sorted.
Other things to be aware of
When you enroll a student, either for the first time, or when enrolling them at the start of a new year for continuing studies, or if you have made changes to the subjects they are enrolled in, I recommend you communicate with Te Kura to make sure they are aware, and appropriately note, that your student is exempt, and should remain so.
However, note that if you do enroll in 3 or more subjects at any given time, the exemption will cease, and along with it the allowance. If they later drop out of Te Kura, or drop subjects, it is unlikely that they will be able to get the exemption back.
If this situation has only now come to your attention, and you have been historically "short changed" over the last couple of years or so, you may have a case to make for back payment with the Ministry - though you'll need to take that up with them.
If your student is enrolled in Te Kura full time (3 or more subjects) under the young adult gateway, there is also no student support payment (aka Te Kura supervision allowance) payable from Te Kura.
If your student is enrolled in Te Kura full time under another funded gateway, they may be eligible for the student support payment, however, that is a completely separate system, managed entirely by Te Kura, and none of the above applies. This is also true if a previous exempt student transfers to full time free Te Kura (eg due to geographical isolation).