November 17, 2017
Update on the revised Bill 144: the next step in developing a homeschooling framework in Quebec
Our legal team has reviewed the amendments made over the Assembly’s October sittings. It’s important to note that the passage of this bill, which amends the Education Act, is just one step in the process of developing a legislative framework for homeschooling. The regulations, which will have the greatest practical impact on homeschooling families in Quebec, have yet to be drafted, as does a “best practices” guide for homeschoolers. HSLDA, homeschooling groups in Quebec, and other stakeholders in the homeschool community will continue to be involved in those processes, and we will be in touch with our members as we move into the next stage.
In the meantime, here are the highlights of the new law:
- S 15(4) of the Education Act permitted a student to be exempt from compulsory school attendance where that student receives an educational experience that is “equivalent to what is provided at school.” The wording is now a student who “receives appropriate homeschooling,” not equivalent – a very positive change for the homeschooling community.
- To meet the standard of appropriate homeschooling, you must meet the following conditions under the revised s. 15(4) of the Education Act:
- The parent must submit a written notice of intent to homeschool to the Minister, and to the school board with jurisdiction (the child would attend if they went to school). School boards receive notifications and ensure that homeschoolers are providing notification. Refusal to notify will trigger the involvement of social services (DPJ).
- The parents must submit and implement a learning project to educate, socialize and to qualify the child, through the development of basic skills, including literacy, numeracy and problem-solving, and the French language. This learning project will be submitted to the Minister, who monitors the homeschooling. We expect the regulations to set out in greater detail what the process will be after the parents submit the learning plan.
- The parents must comply with any other conditions or procedures determined by the government, including more detail about the learning project, an annual evaluation of the child’s educational progress, and a process to deal with difficulties around the learning project or its implementation. What the annual evaluation will consist of has not yet been determined, but Education Minister Sébastien Proulx noted that insisting on standardized testing for the annual evaluation is not appropriate in the homeschooling context, given differences in the learning schedule and curriculum content.
- The regulations will clarify standards for homeschooling, which must specify how the Minister will monitor homeschooling and how the school board will support the child. When developing regulatory standards, the government shall take into account the instruction provided in the school system. This provision provides some minimum requirements for the content of the regulations.
- S. 18.0.1 of the original Bill 144, which prohibits acting in a manner that compromises a child’s school attendance, does not apply to parents with respect to their children. Likewise, the fines that can be imposed for compromising a child’s school attendance do not apply to parents with respect to their children, either.
- The Ministry of Education will be able to cross-check data from the Ministry of Health to review Quebec children’s educational status.
- The Minister can establish a distance education pilot project, which could benefit homeschooling families interested in this educational option.
Keep an eye on the following dates:
- January 1, 2018: The advisory panel to the government on homeschooling will be set up by this date rather than the initial date of 1 July 2018. We expect to see representatives for homeschooling parents, homeschooling groups, school boards, and researchers on the panel.
- June 1, 2018: The Education Act regulations, which will provide more direction on requirements and standards for homeschoolers, must be determined by this date. We will continue to work with the government and other stakeholders on the content on these regulations, and to communicate with you on this very important issue.
- July 1, 2018: The requirement that homeschoolers provide written notification that they are homeschooling comes into effect on this date. We will be communicating with you well in advance of this date about your obligations under the Education Act and the coming regulations.
- July 1, 2019: The Ministry of Education guide on good homeschooling practices – in which the homeschooling community will have input – will be released by this date. We expect that HSLDA Canada and other stakeholders will have input in this guide.
HSLDA remains in contact with the office of the Ministry of Education. We will be consulting with and keeping our members informed, as the full text of Bill 144 is published and the process of developing the regulations begins. If you have any questions, please feel free to call or email us.