Child-led and interest-inspired learning, home education, learning differences and the impact of regulation

Abstract

Research into the impact of non-consultative home education regulatory change in New South Wales (NSW), Australia, identified clear benefits of a child-led, interest-inspired approach to learning and a negative impact on student learning and well-being outcomes, particularly for learning-differenced children, of restricted practice freedom. Autoethnographic research revealed a clear difference in practice and learning outcomes pre- and post-regulatory change. A move from a flexible regulatory process which enabled child-led, interest-inspired learning, to an inflexible, strictly regulated process that restricted the possibilities for such approaches resulted in poorer learning and corroded well-being for learning-differenced students. Analysis suggests these changed regulatory processes were founded upon a particular concept of “children’s best interests” which frames all children’s needs as identical and can make individual children’s needs invisible. In this situation, the question of how children’s best interests are defined, and by whom, becomes urgent.

Keywords

  • home education
  • homeschooling
  • child-led
  • interest-inspired
  • learning differences
  • regulation
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