Who is the OFTP?
The Ontario Federation of Teaching Parents (OFTP) is a provincial homeschooling support and advocacy group. A non-profit association run by volunteer members, OFTP provides information about home learning, enables networking among its members, and serves as an advocacy group and link between the homeschooling community and the provincial government.
We are open to all, inclusive of all languages, all faiths/philosophies, and all educational styles.
A brief history of the OFTP
The OFTP was officially formed in 1987.
In the 1970-1980s, the Ontario Ministry of Education had a working policy that directed homeschooling families to join “private schools” with “dispersed classrooms”, meaning that the individual families were each “classrooms” under the umbrella of their private school. By using private schools, the Ministry felt better able to monitor homeschooling families. At their height, there were 25 of these private schools.
Originally, the OFTP was a loosely organized group of these private schools. The heads of these private schools worked with families who were actively homeschooling and provided a liaison and network between families and the provincial government.
In the mid to late 1980s, the policy changed, and school boards, under the direction of the Ministry, became much more hostile towards homeschoolers. Many of the private umbrella schools were suddenly shut down.
The OFTP was formed to navigate and advocate against the adversarial activities of the Ministry and school boards. At that time, there were no support groups that had any experience in dealing with school boards and the Ministry. OFTP filled that void.
OFTP membership originally consisted of families who were members or owners of these private schools. Over time, OFTP took on true homeschooling families as well, and today the membership is virtually all homeschooling families.
- We believe that parents have the right to choose their child’s education.
- We believe that parents are the arbitrator of what is satisfactory education for their child.
- We respect and support the diversity that exists in home education communities, which represent a broad spectrum of families, each with unique religious, philosophical, and ethnic traditions.
- We believe that families have the right to choose the educational method that best suits their family, according to their beliefs and lifestyle.
- We respect the uniqueness of all children.
- We believe in the significant role of play in a child’s education.
- We believe all families have the right to autonomy and choice in education, under the law.
- We believe in fostering cooperation and unity among diverse homeschooling communities.
What we do
The OFTP provides factual information about homeschooling to the public and to homeschooling families, and provides networking, support and resources to homeschooling families in Ontario, Canada.
Our current activities
- Maintain a website with updated information and resources for homeschooling families in Ontario
- Offer telephone and email support for homeschooling families
- Monitor legislation and regulation about education, parenting and homeschooling in Ontario
- Advocate for policies that support homeschooling in Ontario
- Offer memberships with multiple benefits to homeschooling families
- Help connect homeschooling families with local support and other homeschooling families
- Support research into homeschooling in Ontario
What we’ve accomplished
The OFTP has been part of many projects and meetings to advocate for homeschooling in Ontario. Here’s a timeline of some of our many accomplishments:
- 1997 - began meeting with officials from the Ontario Ministry of Education to advocate for homeschoolers and consult on the creation of a policy for homeschooling in Ontario
- 1998 - filed an official complaint with the Ombudsman of Ontario about the treatment of homeschoolers by school boards and various government agencies
- 1998-1999 - met with the Provincial School Attendance Counsellor (and several school board attendance counsellors) to draft the document “Home Schooling: Successful Practices” to educate various school-related authorities
- 1999 - unsuccessfully took the Ministry of Health to the Supreme Court of Ontario to get access for homeschooled children to “School Health Support Services” (including occupational therapy, speech & language therapy, physiotherapy, etc.) - access ultimately began in 2000
- 2000 - launched the OntarioHomeschool.org website as a way to freely provide information about homeschooling to the public
- 2000 - created and distributed an information package on homeschooling to school board officials across Ontario to help educate them about homeschooling
- 2000 - successfully lobbied the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) to allow home educated students in the Toronto area to apply for a photo pass to use the TTC at student rates
- 2000 - launched the CAS Initiative and began recording incidents of harassment by Children’s Aid Societies towards homeschoolers
- 2001 - launched the Post-Secondary Admissions Project to research admission policies for homeschooled applicants by various post-secondary institutions across Canada and the US. Our 49-page document of the results is available in PDF form for download
- 2002 - as a result of the meetings that began in 1997, the Ministry of Education released Policy/Program Memorandum 131 (PPM131), the current official homeschooling policy
- 2013 - launched private forums for OFTP members on our website
- 2016 - created a Facebook page
- 2019 - launched a Facebook group
The OFTP is run by volunteers. While we have a large membership, our core executive team maintains our website and social media, responds to enquiries by the public and media, and continues to monitor and advocate for homeschooling with our provincial government.
Our current executive team includes
Sarah Wall - general admin and website admin
Updating and maintaining our website, sending out our newsletter, and supporting all our other team members where needed, Sarah is our general administrator and go-to behind-the-scenes support. Sarah is also a long-term homeschooler, beginning in 2006, and ongoing to today. She has 6 children and lives in Waterloo, Ontario.
Gayle Hanlon – treasurer and membership
Gayle handles the OFTP finances and membership details. So when you purchase your membership or donate money to support the OFTP, Gayle is your point of contact. Gayle is a returning executive team member, having served as secretary when she was an active homeschooler, and she has now stepped up to provide the oversight and perspective we need as the OFTP supports the next generation of homeschooling families.
Karen Derrah - executive secretary
If you’ve contacted the OFTP with a general question, chances are you’ve heard from Karen. She keeps us running, answering email questions, responding to businesses and families alike, and forwarding the right info to other team members as needed. She also helps keep us all on track at our monthly meetings and reminds us of upcoming dates, questions and suggestions! Without Karen, we would not be able to function!
Dr. Carlos Ricci - liaison
Dr. Ricci has been a long-time advocate for homeschooling in Ontario and is our media spokesperson. He is a professor with Nipissing University and a researcher into education and homeschooling practices in Ontario. He also provides much of the advice on homeschooling best-practices for school boards, school officials, and governmental agencies that consult the OFTP.
Taucha Inrig - hotline
Taucha is the voice behind our hotline and fields your urgent questions. If you’re in need of support, need a calming presence or quick advice to solve a pressing problem, Taucha is there to help.
Krysten Dilts – social media
Krysten is our social media admin and moderates our Facebook page and group. She helps share many of the resources and unique educational opportunities that come our way. She’s been homeschooling for 3 years now in the Niagara Region. She loves to read and learn herself! She also travels to Walt Disney World with her daughter at least once a year. The OFTP supported her through the early days of homeschooling and is still a great resource for her after 3 years, so she decided to volunteer!
Marie-Claude Dubé - Francophone support
Marie-Claude is an active French homeschooler in Ontario. She provides our hotline and enquiry support to our Francophone homeschooling families and helps make sure that all our materials are both accurate and available in French.
Cat Ochea - special needs support
Our special needs families have unique support needs and Cat Ochea is there to help fill that need.