BC Homeschool Laws
BCHEA encourages all home educators to register. Not doing so places you outside the law. Currently, BC still has the best home education laws in North America. Any parents refusing to register their children as home school learners while our laws maximally safeguard our parental freedoms simply lose public sympathy; consequently, credibility for home education wanes.
Please take the time to read through the School Act Laws pertaining to home schooling (Part 2, Division 4, and specifically Sections 12 and 13, of the Act) on the BC Government Ministry of Education site. Every home educating parent needs to be familiar with BC home education law. Know your legal status; you will need to inform others.
NOTE: Due to copyright issues, we cannot keep a copy the laws on our website. The above link takes you directly to the School Act on the Ministry of Education site. As per the copyright laws, you may make one copy of the laws for yourself for personal study, if you wish.
Registering Home Education Learners
The deadline for registering our children as home education learners is September 30th each year. BCHEA encourages each home educating family to fulfill the demands of the law. You need to re-register each home learner annually. In BC we have some of the greatest freedoms to be totally responsible for our children’s educational programme with the least amount of interference by government or school districts.
At the same time, home educating parents are free to seek out support from the registering school (whether public, independent, or correspondence). The choice is yours according to your individual needs. We need to cherish the flexibility allowed for in the BC home schooling laws.
You can decide to homeschool at any time of the year. If you feel you need to take your child(ren) out of school during the school year, BCHEA recommends writing a letter to your school principal stating your intention to begin homeschooling your child(ren) as per Section 12 of the BC School Act. Your school will then be able to change the child(ren)’s enrollment status to ‘registered’ and they will be aware that the child will not simply be truant.
If the school is unwilling to change the child’s enrollment status, you may wish to consider transferring the registration to an independent school in BC or to a regional Distance Education school.
Personal Education Numbers and Funding
The PEN is the individual number allocated to every child either entering school (enrolled and attending) or registering as a home education learner for the first time. The numbers are assigned to each and every child by the Ministry of Education. The same number stays with the child throughout his/her years of schooling regardless of the education option taken.
The Ministry of Education in Victoria assigns the PEN number for:
- those entering the school system in Kindergarten
- those moving in from out of province when they enroll in a school or register as a home education learner at any time in the year
- home education students who have never been enrolled in an institutional school when they are first registered as a home education learner
Schools are requested to submit the PEN number for each child on Form 1701 if known. It is the responsibility of the school to ensure that a PEN has been assigned for each home education student. Parents can find out the PEN number of their child by contacting the previous school of registration or enrollment. This information is open to parents. In commenting on the Form 1701 and the information collected, Mr Tom Ellwood, then Director of Independent Schools with the Ministry of Education, stated in a letter dated November 25, 1995:
“The information, with one or two additions, remains the same as when first introduced in 1989, although it may be formatted differently. The school must provide the school name and identification number, and the parent is responsible for providing the new PEN…” (See BCHEA News 9-1, Jan 1996 for the whole letter) The purpose of the numbers, in part, is to help in the allocation of funding to schools as of the September 30th cutoff.
Public school districts will receive a grant:
- for each enrolled and attending student, based on a funding formula starting with a base rate and adding on other costs according to the needs of the individual child (e.g., bussing, special needs, etc.)
- for each home school learner, a grant which is one eighth of the FTE (Full Time Equivalent)
Independent schools receive a grant that is half what is received by public schools for registering home education learners. The funds allocated are to cover the administrative costs for registering home education learners and to defray costs of providing materials, such as borrowed textbooks, to the home learner. The intent is not for the funds to be given to the parents. However, the Ministry of Education leaves to the discretion of the registering schools the decisions on how the funds are utilized in supporting home learners.
The PEN numbers ensure that there are no duplications, in which grants are given to two different schools for the same child. Checking for duplications happens at the Ministry level. However, home education parents are encouraged to notify a previous school of registration if a new school of registration is chosen by September 30th. There is no provision made for home educators changing the school of registration past this deadline, although previously unregistered home learners will be accepted by a school for registration simply to meet the demands of the law (e.g., in the case of someone moving to BC). In this latter case the registering school still receives no grant because the registration deadline has passed.