Home Education Legalities in Saskatchewan
Homeschooling in Saskatchewan is governed by the Education Act and the Home-based Education Program Regulations, clarified by the Home-based Education: Policy and Procedures Manual. The 2014 third edition of the manual also included an appendix outlining the constitutional and legal context for home-based education. You can read the removed Appendix F directly from that earlier edition of the Home-based Education Policy Manual, or request it from the contact email address provided in the current manual’s Introduction section. School Divisions may also have their own Procedures to follow for implementing the Act and its Regulations.
(Warning: all of the links to the Act, Regulations, and Policy Manual, may automatically download the PDF files instead of opening them in your browser, unless you’re using Internet Explorer. This is not a fault of the CHBL website, it is happening on the government website’s side, and it appears they are trying to fix it.)
Section 156 of the Education Act covers compulsory attendance and section 157(1) (p.67 of the PDF) covers the exemptions therefrom, including homeschooling in subsection c:
(c) the pupil is receiving instruction in a registered home-based education program;
“Home-based education program” is defined in section 2 of the Education Act:
“home-based education program” means an education program:
(a) that is provided to a pupil who has attained the age of six years but has not attained the age of 18 years;
(b) that is started at the initiative of and is under the direction of the parent or guardian of the pupil; and
(c) in which the pupil is receiving instruction at and from the home of the pupil; (« programme de scolarisation à domicile »)
The Home-based Education Program Regulation (regulation 23 of the Education Act) outlines the responsibilities of the boards of education / conseil scolaire and the parents / guardians of homeschooled children:
Section 4 directs the parent to give the board of education (or the conseil scolaire) “notice of his or her intention to register a proposed home-based education program,” along with “a written education plan that is consistent with the policies established by the minister.”
Section 6 outlines the services to be made available to home-based learners:
(a) home-based learner assessments;
(b) education and training in the operation of motor vehicles pursuant to section 189 of the Act.
and directs boards / the conseil scolaire to develop policies for any other services they are “prepared to make available to home-based learners”:
(a) participation in cultural and athletic activities, youth travel, outdoor education and similar activities pursuant to section 179 of the Act;
(b) participation in programs of athletic and amateur sport pursuant to section 188 of the Act;
(c) guidance and counselling services pursuant to section 191 of the Act;
(d) services for pupils with intensive needs pursuant to section 178 of the Act; and
(e) enrolment in distance-education opportunities.
Section 12 outlines the way homeschoolers are to be monitored by their board or the conseil scolaire, including (b) to assess the progress of the home-based learner in relation to:
(i) the written education plan; and
(ii) the home-based learner’s age and ability.
Upon evidence of non-compliance with the Act or Regulations or “evidence that a home-based learner has not made satisfactory progress,” section 13 directs the registering authority (the relevant board of education or the conseil scolaire) to send the parent written notification that they must submit an improvement plan within 30 days. If the registering authority and the parent disagree about the need for an improvement plan or the details of the plan itself, section 13(3) directs each party to provide written notice to the other party that they are referring the issue to the dispute resolution process.
Section 14 of the Regulation covers the procedures to follow when the registering authority wishes to cancel the registration of the home-based education program when they deem it unsatisfactory.
PART III of the Regulation covers Responsibilities of Home-Based Educators:
- Section 15 mandates parental compliance with the Act, Regulations, and the policies and procedures established by their registering authority.
- Section 16 mandates keeping a portfolio of the home-based learner’s work and keeping it for two years after the year in which the work was done.
- Section 17 mandates the submission of an annual progress report.
- Section 18 covers language of instruction: it must be English or French at least 50% of the time, and if it’s not English, the English language must be taught as a subject starting no later than the day of the child’s 8th birthday.
- Section 19 covers switching from homeschooling back to school attendance. After voluntary cancellation of home-based education registration, you cannot re-register for home-based education for the same pupil until the start of the following school year.
Part IV of the Regulation covers the Dispute Resolution Process.and the role of the Ministry in granting or denying permission to homeschool when there is disagreement between the registering authority and the parents.
The Home-based Education: Policy and Procedures Manual puts the Act and Regulation requirements in plain language, and also covers some items not mentioned in them.
For instance, the Manual clarifies that if a group of parents want to get their children together at someone’s home to be taught by either one of the parents or a hired teacher, they must register as a private school rather than as home-based educators.
The Manual also clarifies that compulsory school age is from age 7 to 15 inclusive, but that “Parents who elect to provide home-based education programs for their own children aged 6, 16, or 17 (i.e. not of compulsory school age), and who meet the registration criteria contained in the regulations, are entitled to have their programs registered with a registering authority.” and “The registration of a home-based education program does not:
– award eligibility of the home-based learner for secondary level credits or secondary level standing; or,
– establish the grade, level, or year in which the home-based learner is entitled to be enrolled in a public or independent school.”
Here are a few of the more significant policies and procedures established in the Manual:
The registering official shall consider each Notice of Intent to Home-school from a parent concerning a home-based education program according to the principles of:
– freedom of conscience and religion in education; and,
– fundamental justice.
A parent shall provide written notice on the Notification of a Home-based Education Program form (see Appendix B)
Within 30 days, of receiving the Notice of Intent to Home-school, the registering authority shall:
– review the Notice of Intent to Home-school and determine that the notification complies with the Act, the regulations and the policies;
– register the home-based education program; and,
– notify, in writing, to the parent who provided the Notice of Intent to Home-school that the home-based education program has been registered.
In the case of joint custody both parents must agree to the home-based education program for the child. Where two parents have joint custody of a home-based learner and live in two different school divisions, they shall officially register with only one of the two school divisions, while informing the other school division of their choice.
Until the program is registered, a home-based learner is not exempted from compulsory attendance at a public school according to clause 156 of The Education Act, 1995.
Parents are required to give at least 30 days notice before commencing a new home-based education program, whether at the beginning or the middle of a school year.
There is a whole section of the Manual dedicated to assessments, in which the following statement is made:
Home-based education programs are philosophically and structurally diverse. Some support regular testing of a home-based learner’s educational progress and others do not.
The Manual also makes the following important statement:
Home-based educators are qualified to provide instruction to their children.
In the case of an alleged failure of home-based educators to provide an adequate education for their home-based learners, the burden of proof resides with the public authority.
Read the Manual for more details on all of the above, as well as things like driver education (a requirement by Saskatchewan Government Insurance, currently funded provincially, and given to home-based learners through their registering authority), secondary level credits, distance education, intensive needs, and more.